A High Line-like park for Washington, D.C. has been in the works since 2014 and was supposed to open later this year, but construction hasn’t even started. The 11th Street Bridge Park project, a 1.45-mile-long elevated landscape that aims to dramatically connect Anacostia to Capitol Hill, features a landscaped vision by OMA and OLIN that also comes with an amphitheater, public plaza, cafe, and hammock grove. Thanks to a recent $5 million donation by utility company Exelon, the ambitious public project is much closer to breaking ground and will now feature an 11,000-square-foot environmental education center.
DCist reported that local officials expect the latest news of fundraising to inspire others to support the plan. For the last few years, both Washington-based organizations, philanthropists, and large corporations such as JPMorgan have pledged millions of dollars, all of which will be dropped into what’s now being described as a $139 million capital community investment campaign—a number far higher than the $40 million initially projected five years ago.
According to Scott Kratz, director of the 11th Street Bridge Park project, the money will go both toward the build-out of the revitalized bridge as well as a series of equitable development strategies. Kratz told DCist that this move is key in ensuring that the residents of Ward 6 in Capitol Hill proper, as well as 7 and 8 in Anacostia, get first access to construction jobs onsite and a say in the park’s overall development. Additionally, both the city and the Ward 8 nonprofit in charge of the proposal, Building Bridges Across the River at THE ARC, aim to keep the cost of living low surrounding the new park.
Another way the team is trying to elevate community life in the area is through the creation of the newly-announced Exelon Environmental Education Center, where kids can learn about science, engineering, river health, and flora and fauna. DCist reported that it will be run by the Anacostia Watershed Society and sit on the eastern end of the park. The site will be aptly surrounded by the 1,200-acre Anacostia Park, as well as a slew of highways separating it from residential and commercial properties nearby.
So far, a design team for the new hub has not been chosen, but with Exelon’s gift, the entire project is nearly fully funded at a total of $111.5 million. Kratz said the 11th Street Bridge Park is slated to open in 2023.