Proposals Presented for Poplar Point

By Chris Kirkham
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 4, 2006

The Anacostia Waterfront Corp. last week presented the first proposals for Poplar Point, 100 acres of parkland along the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington that is expected to be transferred soon from the federal government to the District. The plans are still months away from being final.

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the design group hired by AWC, presented two different proposals: one with a stadium and parking for the D.C. United soccer team and one without. Both plans show office, retail and residential development clustered in three neighborhood areas: near Good Hope Road SE to the east, W Street SE in the middle and Howard Road SE further west. The soccer field scenario shows the soccer field in place of the development near W Street, with a 4,000-space parking garage and a 500-room conference center and hotel. In addition to Major League Soccer games, the stadium would probably be used as a concert venue.

Each of the neighborhood clusters would be linked by new roads.

The preliminary plans call for 1,400 to 2,300 residential units -- 30 percent of which would be priced below market rate, to make them affordable to residents of the surrounding Anacostia neighborhoods -- two to four office buildings and one or two hotels.

Congress has approved a bill to transfer the land from the federal government to the District, and President Bush is expected to sign it. As part of the land-transfer agreement, 70 of the 150 acres are designated as public park land. Both sketches call for the green space to be along the river. The space for development would be further inland, close to the Anacostia Freeway.

The design group's ideas for the park portion include an amphitheater, interpretive trails through the wetlands, bike paths, picnic areas and a motorboat landing. The existing Frederick Douglass Memorial Garden would be incorporated into any park development.

Although the master plan is still in its early stages, nearby residents are concerned about increased traffic, set-asides for local businesses and recreation opportunities for local children. And area business leaders are interested in bringing in popular restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse or Ruby Tuesday, saying they don't want Poplar Point to be what they call "another Rock Creek park."

"What I think is happening is that they are trying to bring 'across-the-river' ideas over here," said James Bunn, a representative of the Ward 8 Business Council. "On this side of the river we want to see park land with a certain type of entertainment as well . . . That way we don't have to go across town, go to Georgetown so we feel like a part of the city."

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