Welcome to Buzzard Point, the neighborhood where the D.C. United soccer team would like to move. Just a few blocks southwest of Nationals Park, the area is one of the District’s last swaths plots of industrial land, centered between an Army base, a quiet neighborhood of row homes and the Anacostia River.
Buzzard Point is two miles from the U.S. Capitol and feels decades removed from the building boom taking place in many other parts of the city. The Pepco plant, with its rusting metal towers, would have been torn down years ago in a more tony part of town. Cranes in other neighborhoods are erecting luxury apartment buildings; one prominent construction machine here clutches scrap metal at the Super Salvage lot. There are no sidewalk cafes or beer gardens. In some places, there are no sidewalks at all. Abandoned railroad tracks run through the asphalt.
But as the city’s urban renaissance expands, Buzzard Point’s industrial surroundings are destined to change, whether or not D.C. United opens a 20,000-seat stadium between 2nd, Half and T streets and Potomac Avenue.
Already a streetcar line that would connect to the Metro is being designed, and Southwest’s first new apartment building in many years opened on nearby South Capitol Street.
Developers may frown at the marketing limitations of the name Buzzard Point — short for Turkey Buzzard Point — but they are coming nonetheless. Take a look around. If you get lost along the way, consider opening this map in a separate tab.
D.C. United’s vision for a new stadium and pedestrian plaza, looking northeast. On the left is 2nd Street SW. Potomac Avenue is at the top, leading diagonally up to South Capitol Street and Nationals Park. The buildings surrounding the stadium are conceptual (they do not exist). The traffic oval pictured on South Capitol Street is not yet there either but is envisioned as part of a rebuilt South Capitol Street bridge. Here’s the current view of Nationals Park, looking northeast along Potomac Avenue SW, from what would be the main entrance to the D.C. United Stadium. On the right is District-owned land that Mayor Vincent Gray (D) would like to contribute to the stadium plan.
Near the proposed main entrance to United’s stadium today, at the corner of First Street and Potomac Avenue SW, is the Super Salvage metal processing plant, where engines, hub caps, radiators, lawn furniture and other discarded items are scrapped and salvaged for future uses. The scrap yard is privately owned and the city is trying to acquire it for the team.
Walking through the stadium site on First Street, here is a view from the sideline of the proposed field at about where the goal box would be. The southern goal would be on the left, where there is currently a parking lot owned by developer Akridge. In the center, S Street runs through the field. At right is the Super Salvage lot, where the rest of the field would run.
Back along the northern end of the stadium’s footprint, forgotten train tracks run along Potomac Avenue SW. Up ahead mixing trucks from a cement plant nearby are parked.
The northwestern corner of the proposed stadium, at 2nd and R streets SW, is a city-owned lot that Gray has proposed contributing to the stadium plan.
The stadium’s southwestern corner would be at 2nd and T streets SW. Fort Lesley J. McNair, the Army base that is home to the National Defense University, is behind the brick wall to the left. The empty lot in the foreground is what D.C. developer Akridge would like to trade to the D.C. government in exchange for Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center on U Street NW.
Coming up Half Street SW now, along the proposed stadium area’s eastern edge, are decommissioned Pepco facilities, including these lovely towers brought to you by General Electric.
A peek through the fence on the west side of Half Street shows where United’s pedestrian plaza would be. Right now it’s a lot owned by Pepco, which is negotiating to transfer control of it to the city.
If you stand in the right spot on Half Street, you can catch a glimpse of a famous landmark about two miles to the north. On the right is a cement plant that remains in operation.
Finally, back at the stadium’s main entrance, at First Street and Potomac Avenue SW, is a view that is almost identical to one for which United has been showing renderings. Compare the smoke stacks on the far left in the above shot with...
...the smoke stacks on the far left in this rendering. They are about the only things that still remain.
Photos by Jacqueline Dupree. Renderings courtesy of D.C. United.
Jonathan O’Connell and Jacqueline Dupree are on Twitter at @oconnellpostbiz and @JDLand
Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.