rendering courtesy of AWC, in This presentation
This blog came into being just in time for a grand political fight between the pro-MacFarlane/DC United plan for Poplar Point and those who favor seeking alternatives. This afternoon Ward 8 Councilman Barry came out in opposition to Fenty and has threatened to vote against whatever developer the mayor eventually chooses. Political maturity at its height.
If it isn't already obvious, I am in favor of competitive development for Poplar Point. This issue is surprisingly similar to the recent debate of elevated vs. underground rail through Tyson's Corner. There were those that said "let's just get this thing built--aboveground, underground, who cares--we just need Metro, at any cost". Then there were those that said "yes, we Do need Metro, but in getting Metro, let's do this right. Sure, it may take a few more years and some extra effort--but taking that time will yield a better and more lasting result."
Somehow I knew that Marion Barry would be one-sided on this. It isn't surprising. He is a politician out to prove something--now out to defend a billionaire developer so that we will remember him for his tenacity in the public sphere rather than his starring role in an incriminating video involving a crack pipe.
If Barry claims to be dedicated to doing what is best for Ward 8, yet supports allowing MacFarlane to build his behemoth development, something is amiss, and for these reasons:
(click image to enlarge) image courtesy of the DC United presentation
MacFarlane/DC United were bold to place their own proposed site plan next to the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation's design. Bold because they propose to develop a significantly larger footprint onto the Point, putting buildings where AWC proposes wetlands, public parkland, and a daylit Stickfoot Creek--amenities that MacFarlane pushes aside in favor more sellable/rentable square feet.
If MacFarlane is so dedicated to building in Ward 8, I suggest he remember its many existing acquisition opportunities: building on the multitude of vacant lots or refurbishing some of its aging buildings.
Competitive development allows for more than one option to be placed on the table. If Anacostia presents itself as a neighborhood desperate for development at any cost, it will end up with buildings that do not stand the test of time and a history of developers taking advantage of it.
We can do better than that, and we--our people, our neighborhood, our aesthetic future and heritage-- deserve better than that.
Ultimately I just want a great park where I can throw a frisbee, see nature thriving, and be proud to live near. And all I see in MacFarlane's proposal is buildings.