The major renovation of historic U.S. National Park Service (NPS) site Franklin Park is set to begin on July 1, setting in motion a transformative project to turn the nearly 5-acre park in DowntownDC into a flexible, innovative and exciting green space.
The redesigned park, located between 13th and 14th streets NW and K and I streets NW, will include an outdoor café with seating and restrooms, a children’s play area, a repaired and interactive historic fountain, new seating, an improved tree canopy and more.
“Upon its reopening, the redesigned Franklin Park will be a major destination for visitors, residents and workers alike and we look forward to welcoming all guests to experience this DowntownDC amenity,” said DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) President & CEO Neil Albert.
[Click here for an April 2019 National Capital Planning Commission presentation on the park design.]
A planning partnership was formed in 2012 between NPS, the DC Government and the BID to transform the park and establish sustainable maintenance and operation of the park in perpetuity. The result of this planning effort, which included public outreach and stakeholder input, was a concept design and maintenance and operations plan for the park.
The park is in need of many structural repairs and improvements, including to paths and walkways, the landscaping and tree canopy, the historic fountain, the tree canopy, seating and lighting and more. The park will be operated and managed by the BID upon its reopening and will serve as a host to a number of programming activities.
The park is served by Metrorail, Metrobus and the DC Circulator and it sits amid a thriving commercial district and a growing residential population. It is bordered by The Washington Post, language arts museum Planet Word, located in the former Franklin School building and thriving office buildings, Hamilton Hotel, restaurants, nightlife and more.
Mayor Muriel Bowser set aside $18 million in 2018 for the renovation. In March 2019, the President Trump signed a federal lands package that permitted the District of Columbia to invest its capital dollars in the renovation and construction of the park through a cooperative management agreement with NPS. The DC Department of General Services (DGS) is overseeing the construction and has retained Smoot Construction Co. as the general contractor.
Weekend food services, currently being provided in the park by various charities, are being relocated to Vermont Ave between H and I streets NW where the BID will offer interested providers tents, tables, chairs and handwashing stations to allow individuals to safely serve individuals experiencing homelessness and others in need. The relocation will begin on July 11. The BID will continue to offer daily meal service outdoors to individuals experiencing homelessness and operate the Downtown Day Services Center on an appointment-only basis during the pandemic.
During the construction period, which is expected to take 12 months, public access to the park will be closed, but transportation access on the perimeter of the park will remain.
The BID in 2019 launched the DowntownDC Foundation to help raise funding and support for the park as well as support for homeless services, public space infrastructure enhancements and community programming.