Each document involved a year-long process of research and community involvement
to develop recommendations for a successful future in DowntownDC
March 23, 2023
For Immediate Release / Contact: Braulio Agnese, firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, D.C. — Today the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) releases two significant publications: the DowntownDC Parks Master Plan and the Gallery Place – Chinatown Corridor Study. The master plan considers the BID’s 32 parks and plazas, whereas the study concentrates on a 25-block area around downtown’s stretch of 7th Street NW. In different ways, these documents address the quality-of-life and economic issues facing DowntownDC in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and offer recommendations and action items that will make the heart of the District a more welcoming and attractive place for residents, workers, and visitors.
“To protect and enhance the downtown core as the city’s economic engine, we have to create spaces that people are attracted to — spaces that are green, vibrant, welcoming, safe, and that attract diverse communities of people. That is why these two studies are so important,” says DowntownDC President and CEO Gerren Price. “To cement the future vitality of DowntownDC, we must invest in more and better parks and we have to be intentional in our efforts to improve the Gallery Place – Chinatown Corridor, which is a hub for activity in DowntownDC that serves and benefits the entire region.”
DowntownDC Parks Master Plan
In the fall of 2021, the BID embarked on a year-long process to inventory and reimagine the 27 acres of parks and open spaces that exist throughout DowntownDC’s 138 blocks. The effort engaged with the U.S. National Park Service, the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, and DowntownDC stakeholders to identify challenges and opportunities to improve parks, open spaces, and streetscapes to make the public realm more engaging, adaptable, connected, authentic, and iconic.
“The DowntownDC Parks Master Plan is a framework to create meaningful spaces and a dynamic parks system within DowntownDC. This plan highlights the many opportunities for park and public space enhancements that will improve the downtown experience, while also emphasizing the importance of the many partnerships that will be necessary to achieve success,” says BID Vice President of Planning and Economic Development Ella Faulkner.
In recent years, the Trust for Public Land has ranked the District of Columbia several times as having the best park system in the U.S. for investment, equity, and access. Yet despite the redevelopment of a number of park spaces across the city, DowntownDC’s parks and plazas remain relatively underdeveloped and underutilized — in part because many are historically significant spaces that require additional layers of planning and approvals. Additionally, a number of public spaces are surrounded by busy streets, lack modern amenities, and are misaligned with community needs.
The DowntownDC Parks Master Plan was created to spark interest in developing an intentional, vibrant, and meaningful downtown park system. Based on community engagement and coordination with concurrent planning efforts, the plan offers six system-wide recommendations. Find the document here.
Gallery Place – Chinatown Corridor Study
Also in the fall of 2021, the DowntownDC BID started a year-long study of the Gallery Place – Chinatown corridor, defined by 5th and 9th streets NW and Pennsylvania and Massachusetts avenues NW. The project researched the corridor’s economic development, its current public space issues, and the opportunities it offers. The BID partnered with landowners, tenants, and several District government agencies to imagine the next evolution of this economically vital part of DowntownDC.
“The Gallery Place-Chinatown corridor is the cultural and entertainment heart of downtown, and we are at a critical moment in time to reimagine the experience we want to create,” says Faulkner. “This plan calls for collaboration and bold actions to generate excitement and vibrancy.”
This area is at the center of the greater Washington region, a place where residents, employees, and visitors from around the globe experience the nation’s capital as a city, not just as the seat of government. The corridor’s combination of regional attractions and robust connectivity gives it a magnified visibility among D.C. visitors, and perceptions of this corridor, whether positive or negative, reflect on the entire District.
Today, the Gallery Place – Chinatown corridor and DowntownDC face important challenges as each recovers from impact of several long-term trends as well as the pandemic’s economic stresses. This study documents a stakeholder-driven vision for future economic development investments, public space priorities, and capital improvements needed to strengthen the corridor.
After more than 30 stakeholder interviews, more than 500 online survey responses, four focus group sessions, three Advisory Committee meetings, and two public meetings, the study includes 11 action items. Find the study here.