FROM THE PAVED parking lots with the broken bottles next to Key Bridge and along the waterside to the huge rising frame of the Washington Harbour development, the famed Georgetown Waterfront is not much to look at -- and difficult to walk along. But piece by piece, battle by battle, a transformation is under way; and though there are those who bleed whenever even an inch of empty space goes for something other than park land, the waterfront of tomorrow may well be a lively, inviting part of the capital city -- a blend of development and park land that need not offend the eye.

It's hard to visualize, when what you see now is nothing close to what Washington Harbour eventually is supposed to look like with its park land around it as well as along the riverside from there to the bridge. That is what Mayor Barry, planners and the U.S. Park Service have worked out, along with a landscaped narrow strip between 30th Street NW and Rock Creek, where a hotel and office building are to be built, starting in March.

True, there can be more than a few horrors committed between blueprints and ribbon-cuttings -- and scrutiny is in order all the way. But it would have been unrealistic as well as unnecessary to turn this entire area into park land. There is much green along the canal, and there will be more on the downtown side of the bridge as well. And, yes, there will be money made by people. There should be a tidy little amount added to the city's coffers too, which wouldn't be the worst thing ever to happen to taxpayers, either.

We still wish that the future skyline there wouldn't include an ugly Whitehurst Freeway hovering over everything; but here again, there are some ambitious designs that may camouflage the thing rather well. Add to this a floating restaurant in the one-time presidential yacht USS Williamsburg, and you may be looking at a top attraction. That's a far cry from what you look at there today.