NoMa Looking for a Few Great Public Spaces

NoMa missing a central gathering place

NoMa, as has been amply documented, is on fire with residential and office development. But as the new neighborhood's planners realized in 2010, they're missing something pretty critical: A central gathering place to hang out.

And as sites get built out, opportunities to lock one down are disappearing fast.

To fix the problem, the NoMa Business Improvement District has gotten creative, identifying a handful of places that can be carved out of the surrounding developments.

One is on L Street as it emerges from underneath the railroad tracks: The median could be widened to create a linear public plaza. Another is a small triangle park on Florida Avenue. (It appears that they've also envisioned a sidewalk cafe outside a storage warehouse.)

Perhaps the most ambitious is a parking lot elevated above the sidewalk on 2nd Street NE, which pedestrians wouldn't even notice, since it's on top of a giant stone wall.

Saying the magic words, BID Director Robin-Eve Jasper called it the city's answer to New York's High Line at last night's unveiling -- a place to hang out and watch the trains go by.

It's still very much a vision, though. Adjacent property owners have been apprised that the BID wants their cooperation, but no deals have been signed.

And as for the money: Councilmember Tommy Wells is still trying to set up a special purpose fund (PDF) with an as-yet-unidentified revenue source. For now, enjoy the pretty pictures here.

NoMa Looking For a Few Great Public Spaces was originally published by Washington City Paper on April 20, 2012.

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