The NoMa Parks Foundations, operated by the NoMa Business Improvement District, purchased a vacant lot on Third and L streets NE in October to house the neighborhood’s first park.
“It’s a great neighborhood now, and it deserves to have great parks and that’s what we are hell-bent on doing,” said Robin-Eve Jasper, the NoMa BID president.
The fact that NoMa doesn’t have any parks was a city planning miscalculation. When officials were planning to develop the then-rather desolate neighborhood in the nineties, they envisioned it to be a downtown area, filled with office buildings. And that happened. In 2013, for instance, NPR moved its headquarters into a brand new building along North Capitol Street NE.
But in addition to office buildings, apartments—expensive apartments!—were constructed. With those apartment buildings came residents, and the concrete district didn’t really have the infrastructure, like public green space, to provide neighborhood amenities. Jasper says there are around 36,000 people currently living in the neighborhood.
To remedy this, the District budget allocated $50 million in 2013 for NoMa to build new parks. That money would be used to acquire land from developers, and then to actually construct the parks.
In mid-October, the NoMa Parks Foundations acquired its first piece of land, purchasing the lot on Third and L Streets NE from Cohen Siegel Investors for $3.2 million. Cohen Siegel Investors had originally intended to develop the land into an upscale residential building.
Jasper says the 8,000 square-foot space will be transformed into a still-t0-be-determined type of park. The BID will be hosting community meetings to field what kind of space the neighborhood would like to see. (While the BID will be developing the park, it is city owned space.)
Jasper says she expects it will take a couple years to design, permit, and develop the park.
Although this is the first public park in the neighborhood, there are a number of public “pop-up” spaces in the neighborhood. Most notably, NoMa Junction is a 70,000-square-foot lot filled with public art, tables and is home to the neighborhood’s popular outdoor film series. But that land is privately owned and, in 2016, construct will start on a massive-mixed use development on that site.
There will be a community meeting on Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss plans for the neighborhood’s parks and public spaces at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1225 First Street, NE.