Franklin Park, at nearly 5 acres, is DowntownDC’s largest green space and is located between 13th and 14th streets northwest between K and I streets. The park is federally-owned by the U.S. National Park Service and currently offers shade and grass, seating via benches and walkways. In its central plaza area, there is a fountain that is currently non-operational and on the western end there is a statue of Commodore John Barry.
The BID currently helps maintain and clean the park, including emptying trash and recycling and has added red bistro tables and chairs in the center area. During weekday lunch hours, food trucks sell lunch on the eastern edge of the park. To engage the lunchtime crowd, the BID hosts free lunchtime summer concerts series on Thursdays in June and July. The BID has also offered additional free programming including jazz Fridays, picnic blankets, free wifi via routers, inflatable furniture, office supplies and more.
Food trucks and the seating provided by the BID help draw DowntownDC workers, residents and visitors during the day to Franklin Park. Additionally, the park is served by nearby Metrorail, Metrobus and the DC Circulator and sits amid a thriving commercial district and a growing residential population. The park’s size and location provide a unique opportunity to significantly impact the community and the local economy by reimagining this green space.
Renovation and Transformation
A planning partnership was formed in 2012 between NPS, the District government and the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) to transform the park and establish sustainable maintenance and operation of the park in perpetuity. Olin and ZGF Architects were awarded the planning contract. The result of this effort, which included public outreach and stakeholder input, was a concept design and a maintenance and operations plan for the park.
In August 2015, the Franklin Park planning partners completed an Environmental Assessment for the Franklin Park Vision and Transformation plan (EA). Based on analysis of the EA and consideration of public comments, NPS determined that the work in Franklin Park will not result in significant impacts to the environment. NPS released a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for a preferred design alternative.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser in 2018 set aside $18 million for the renovation and construction of the park. In March 2019, 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 park’s revitalization will include enhanced physical and programmatic innovations, such as:
- Café with seating and public restrooms
- Event space
- Children’s play area
- Interactive central foundation
- Sustainable, maintainable and ecologically-sensitive landscaping
Click here to view an April 2019 presentation from the National Capital Planning Commission.
The DC Department of General Services retained Smoot Construction Co. as the general contractor for the renovation. Construction on the park will begin July 1, 2020 and is expected to have a duration of 12 months.
In order for the park to meet its full potential and truly become an innovative and attractive destination, additional revenue and enhancements are necessary. Funds raised by the DowntownDC Foundation will provide an ongoing revenue stream for operating maintenance costs as well as programming and structural enhancements.