79°Mostly Cloudy

Georgetown Waterfront Park Completed and Completely Awesome

by Prince Of Petworth September 26, 2011 at 10:04 pm 53 Comments

Back in Jan. ’09 I suspected that the Georgetown waterfront park was going to be sweet. Well, it has been completed and it is indeed totally freaking sweet. Best new park to hit DC since Yards Park by Navy Yard.

I hit it on a cloudy day but you can imagine how insanely awesome it’ll be on a sunny day.

I love how it goes all the way down to the water in one section:

  • Anonymous

    If I am not totally mistaken, DC took this land years ago from my friend’s grandfather. The grandfather took the payout and bought different land in DC, and many years later, guess what, DC took it again, and possibly arguably didn’t give a fair shake to the public or rightful landholder’s interest, in my opinion. I guess it’s ok for the DC government to take land here in DC from private interests on behalf of economic development that benefits private interests. What a city, willing to take!

    • Anonymous

      don’t be a fool.

    • rooty tooty

      Can you provide some documentation of this? Sounds a bit outlandish to me.

    • TaylorStreetMan

      He accepted the payout, but the land was “taken” from him?

    • Sir Douchy

      “I guess it’s ok for the DC government to take land here in DC from private interests on behalf of economic development that benefits private interests.”
      Actually, it’s perfectly legal for any jurisdiction to do this. The Supreme Court has ruled on a number of “takings” cases over the years, most notably in 2005 in the Kelo v. City of New London case, which allowed for eminent domain even when it benefits a private developer.

      • Chairman Mao

        Kelo is probably the worst SC decisions since Plessy.

        • Anonymous

          Agreed; disgraceful.

    • Anonymous

      The park is owned by the federal government, not the DC government.

  • D

    Glad DC is starting to make better use of our waterfront.

  • Mike

    Now, can we just get rid of the Whitehurst Freeway? What an eyesore! Perhaps a tunnel instead?? Better yet, just get rid of it.

    • andy

      Ask Seattle how getting rid of a waterfront highway and installing a tunnel has gone.

      • andy(2)

        This is one of the greatest parks – heavily used but still a quiet retreat from the city. Only think I don’t like are the planters buy the fountain – they weren’t in the original design.
        Topher at Georgetownmetropolitan.com did a great write up on this park.

        andy – thought the same thing. But I’m thinking the DC council will be far less obstructionist than Seattle’s Mayor McBike.

        As much as I don’t like the Whitehurst – if we are going to fix bad freeways – I say let’s spend the effort to cap/cover 395 by the SW Waterfront and turn it into a grass midway. This would allow another area to host events and relieve the stress on the Mall.

      • mike

        Better yet, ask Boston.

    • hungrover

      You’re asking for more traffic and congestion on M Street?

      How would you get the cars from said tunnel up to the Key Bridge? A freight elevator?

    • Anonymous

      Terrible idea. What they should do instead is green it up, planting hanging vines and other greenery around it on the side facing the river. And put the interesting space beneath it to better use by regularly closing it to vehicular traffic and holding street fairs, markets, block parties, etc. down there.

      • Elza

        That would be awesome!

      • Anonymous

        i agree 200%.

      • djdc

        Didn’t they used to have the chili cook off under the freeway? Hmm…

    • anon

      The Ritz Carlton did the full on offensive a ~decade ago to get the whitehurst buried. They didn’t want to build million dollar condos that overlooked a freeway that was literally ~75′ away.

      That was the closest the city probably ever came to buring it, they did a lot of studies, priced it out etc. Not surprisingly it would have cost an unbelievable fortune, somewhere in the neighborhood of ~250 million at the time, which of course the Ritz wanted DC to pay for.

      Nope, the whitehurst is here to stay.

    • Anonymous

      i love the whitehurst. i love the absolutely cool space it creates underneath. unlike anything else in dc. i don’t think it’s an eyesore all all.

  • Anonymous

    Better than the parking lot that was there, but it took WAY TOO LONG! Furthermore, the park doesn’t seem to have any focus, common theme, but rather just a jumble of unrelated, uninspired sections.

    Tear Down the Whitehurst Freeway, and make a park that doesn’t have a temporary feel it it. Aren’t we the Capital of the United States?

  • anon1

    I like parks and everything, and I think the city did a great job, especially considering it was a nasty car/bus lot previously.

    However, this is quite literally some of the primest real estate in the city and it seems a waste not to develop it somehow.

    • Anonymous

      Umm, why isn’t turning a barren asphalt parking lot into a green space that allows citizens to enjoy the beauty of their city considered “development” in your view?

      • wobber


    • Anonymous

      Amen. We need to build some office buildings and condos on that useless green strip between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial as well. As a matter of fact, why do we put our monuments on prime real estate? Those could be condos too. New York needs to do the same thing with Central Park. What a waste of space.

      • jm

        they say 1600 pennsylvania ave is the most prestigious address in the world. I bet a law firm or ibank would pay through the nose to lease that spot!

        • joker

          Because, with a full 17% of all the land in the entire District of Columbia actually designated a formal park, DC isn’t exactly lacking in park or open space, thats why, and the Districts most valuable land is off the tax rolls permanently.

          I know you think that cities function on well wishes and rainbows, but it takes money to operate this city, even more to build and maintain parks like this.

          The federal presence alone costs the District more than 600 million a year in lost property tax for untaxable federal assets, a full 33% of the total amount in property taxes the District collects from (1.8 billion in commercial, residential etc )

          That of course doesn’t count another ~100 million or so in lost property tax from all of the foreign embassies and missions that occupy space in the swankiest parts of town.

          I’m not asking for condos to be built on the national mall, but this location in the cities most expensive zipcode was a clear “gimmie” for some high density mixed use. Turning it into a park (thats been flooded twice already before it even opened and is going to cost a fortune to maintain) will probably cost the city 7-10 million a year in lost property tax.

          • Anonymous

            i feel sorry for you joker.

          • Anon

            This is ignoring, of course, that the development of this park had little to do with well wishing and a lot more to do with pressure from the residents of the Paper Mill and neighboring buildings that dont want to overlook both an interstate AND a building blocking their vistas of the Potomac.

            As for “lost” property taxes – the federal government supports DC financially to the tune of way MORE than 600 million. I dont think that the Fed Government is getting that great of a deal.

          • Elza

            If it has already flooded twice, that is all the more reason to turn in into a park! It would cost an even greater fortune, not to mention lost revenues for businesses, if the stores/condos/hotels/whatever you would prefer there got flooded every other year. There is a reason floodplains are often turned into parks – better some easy-to-replant grass and landscaping flood than someone’s home or business.

    • Anonymous

      you need to rethink shit.

      • joker

        No need to feel sorry anony, I live quite the charmed life.

        Where do you think the 24 million came from to build that park? Half from the District.

        I mean, jeez..if we don’t have a solid tax base of some sort, how are we going to afford sending city crews out to peoples houses to clean off graffitti on their private property?

        And Anon,

        I give clear verifiable numbers, please link to where the feds give DC way more than 600 million every year, that isn’t also transportation or welfare related (housing/schooling/food) money thats doled out by formula to every state in the nation?

        • Denizen of Tenallytown

          …how are we going to afford sending city crews out to peoples houses to clean off graffitti on their private property?

          Okay, I laughed!

        • Anon

          Sure, Congress passes a direct appropriation to DC every year. It is in excess of 600 million. That is before any spending on formula based funding programs, homeland security funding, and I believe the Feds pay impervious surface fees to WASA. This also doesnt account for the amount of money the NPS spends to keep RCP and the Mall/Monuments visitable, which are main tourist draws. Nor does it count the money spent on the Smithsonian or other Fed Government tourist destinations. Without the Federal Government, no one would work or visit DC, and the Feds pick up the tab on maintaining all of those physical structures and parkland.

          As for the rest of your rant, I dont want to live in a city that wont pay for parks or for graffiti removal. Its great that you do, go move to New Dehli.

          • joker

            Umm, no it doesn’t.

            Our defacto pointless Congressional Representative Norton has tried to get her 800 million dollar a year federal payment to the District passed into law every year since 2002 and has failed.

            You may also be confused in that the District also got 644 million in one time ARRA stimulus money, but so was everyone else, and it isn’t yearly.

            And considering the federal government owns that 42% of the land in the District, I hardly give them extra credit for also paying to maintain that same land. Of course the NPS pays to maintain the Mall. It doesn’t belong to the District, why would my city tax dollars pay for it?

            As for working in DC, we see that works out so well for the District, 225K people commute into town every day, earn their bucks (66% of all the income earned in the District) and take it back to MD and VA to be taxed because we are the only jurisdiction in the nation that is forbid from passing a commuter tax), a loss to the District of 1.4 billion dollars every year (2008 dollars).

            WASA is a independant utility. I am guessing you don’t own property or pay any water bills (not exactly a surprise) because you would have known that. District taxpayer money doesn’t pay for it, your water bill does, so the Feds funds paying an impervious surface fee is pointless to your discussion. Its like them paying their monthly bill to Pepco, how does that affect the Districts treasury?

            Lastly, I’ve lived here longer and I pay for all your taxpayer freebies, so you can move to New Delhi if you like.

          • Anon

            Uhm. Yes it does. It is funded under the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. If there is a CR, it is funded at the last level that was enacted, if there is an omnibus, it is wrapped into it. Most recently, it was under Division D, Title IV.

            The Republican Appropriations Committee released their draft for FY12, containing Title IV, which includes special direct appropriations to the District of Columbia. You can find that here:


          • Anon

            Also, you haven’t lived here longer. I do own property. And the impervious fee is a result of DC WASA recouping a cost they are incurring due to federally mandated maintenance (to the tune of a few billion, I believe). So, in essence, the Federal Government is paying a huge amount of a fee that they mandated in order to keep the surrounding waterways cleaner, something we all benefit from. The Feds could have easily said they are exempt from paying and that DCWASA would need to still participate, which would have raised the rates on all of us land-owners.

            Why are you such a consistent jackass?

          • joker


            Everything (except for 1) listed under Title IV are things the Federal Government provides fomulaically (as I said above) to every tow/city/state in the nation.

            College tuition money, homeland security funds, medicare funds, National Guard funds, Highway transportation funds etc…all given to everyone else.

            The only thing in Title IV that is unique to DC is that the feds pay for the District Court system (200 million a year).

            And Anon,

            I find it hard to believe that someone who has lived here for more than 30 years (remember, you’ve lived here longer than I have) doesn’t know that the water bill he supposedly pays every month isn’t to the District Treasury.

            The Feds are paying the same water fee that any land owner in the District pays. Giving them credit for paying it is like giving your neighbor fiscal credit for mowing his lawn.

          • Anon

            This isnt a matter of opinion. You are wrong.

          • joker


            Then by all means, point out the line number that lists an item appropriated to DC (other than court money) that isn’t also appropriated to other states as well.

            Don’t worry, I won’t hold my breath.

            Wishing doesn’t make it so.

          • Anon

            I did. You are just wrong about the allocation of the money. Unless you think every jurisdiction in the country gets an entire title of an appropriations bill for their formula money. DC still competes for grants and formula allocations on top of title IV of Fin Serv Approps.

            DC is extremely subsidized by the Federal Government. The $6xx million in ARRA was just more.

  • jm

    a footbridge connecting this to roosevelt island would be killer.

    • victoria

      There used to be a ferry between Georgetown and Roosevelt Island on weekends – that would be super easy to bring back.

    • Denizen of Tenallytown

      Or people could walk across Key Bridge and down the Mount Vernon Trail.

  • dreas

    It is a great improvement and I really like that the steps go all the way down to the water. Although it means that my son is going to fall in the Potomac at some point while feeding the ducks, it feels much less cut off from the river than the rest of the G’town waterfront.

  • JW

    i am thrilled with t park, but objectively the designers screwed up in two areas related to the fountain. On either side, there is a small triagular lip that apparently poses a tripping hazard because there are two ugly as sin pedestrial saw horses deployed there. They look to be permanent additions that make the whole thing look half-as$’d. Secondly, while not as major, the grating for the fountain sits above the ground, explaining why they have tose really tacky plater planters, which apparently are also to be permament fixtures. A little backfitting (or forethrought) woudl eliminate those issues. perhaps they are being worked on, but still not right.

    these are nitpicks, of course. the whole park is wonderful. wish they would connect it all the way to CCT.

  • victoria

    Lovely so far but absolutely begging to be a sculpture park!

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s beautiful, but there are so many (bold) rats living there. I was walking around the park after dinner a few months ago, and came into close contact with three rats, all within about 5 minutes. Since I’m terrified of them, I can’t go back and check out the finished product. :(

  • Bob

    “The federal presence alone costs the District more than 600 million a year in lost property tax for untaxable federal assets”

    Just remember that without the Federal government presence (and spending), DC might be a lot like Newark or Detroit (not even like Baltimore, which itself benefits from the heavy US government presence in the region).

    • joker

      The same thing applies to Alexandria, Arlington and Tysons corner as well, so I am not seeing your point.

      The same would apply if WallStreet moved its operations out of NY, or if the US Auto industry moved itself out of Detroit. Every city has its industry, Government is ours.

    • Denizen of Tenallytown

      In an alternate universe where the Federal Government stayed in Pennsylvania instead of moving to appease the South, the DC area would look a lot like what you see between DC and and Philly – mostly rural areas, some small historic towns clustered along rivers, and exurbs. Alexandria and Georgetown would probably be small touristy areas, frozen in time, similar to historic Occoquan.

    • lou

      Yeah, Virginia isn’t benefiting or anything from the federal government in NoVa or Virginia Beach area. Nope, that’s not why its unemployment rate is so much lower than other states, nope, nope, nope.

  • georgetowner

    Anon, the new park hasn’t flooded. It was the developed part of the waterfront — the mixed-use Washington Harbour complex — that was flooded. Most of the restaurants there still haven’t re-opened.


Subscribe to our mailing list