NoMa scores a “two-acre parcel from Pepco” for a second public park

by Prince Of Petworth January 6, 2016 at 10:10 am 31 Comments

NoMa Green
“Bounded by Harry Thomas Way NE, the popular Metropolitan Branch Trail and New York Avenue NE” courtesy NoMa Parks

From a press release:

“The NoMa Parks Foundation, an affiliate of the NoMa Business Improvement District, announced today that it has acquired for $14 million a two-acre parcel from Pepco. Bounded by Harry Thomas Way NE, the popular Metropolitan Branch Trail and New York Avenue NE, this acquisition is the culmination of two years of effort by the Foundation. It is the second acquisition by the Foundation since being awarded $50 million from the District of Columbia Government for the purpose of developing new public parks and civic spaces in the NoMa neighborhood. The District passed the NoMa Parks Grant Authorization Act in 2013. The Act provides the plan and funding for the creation of parks to serve the residents of NoMa and near northeast.

“With more than 36,000 people living in greater NoMa today and more than 7,000 new homes in the near-term pipeline, a diverse collection of parks and open space is essential,” said Robin-Eve Jasper, president of the NoMa Parks Foundation. “This park will be a fantastic space. It will provide the fast-growing NoMa community with a wonderful place to gather, play and enjoy being outdoors; all things NoMa residents have dreamt about throughout the parks planning we’ve done over the last few years.”

Charles (Sandy) Wilkes, chairman of the NoMa Parks Foundation, stated, “We have a lot to be thankful for. The acquisition of two acres of land for a park in NoMa means we have made good on our priority commitment to create a park, adequately-sized and suitable for a variety of recreational activities – and do so before the opportunity might be foreclosed forever.”

Since its formation in 2012, the Foundation’s mission has been to provide welcoming, sustainable and beautiful public spaces where people can play, refresh and connect in NoMa. The Foundation has worked with the District of Columbia Government, private property owners in NoMa and NoMa residents on this public-private partnership to create attractive public spaces where none previously existed. The two-acre parcel acquired from Pepco will serve as the backyard for the neighborhood and has the working name of “NoMa Green.”

“We were pleased to partner with the NoMa Parks Foundation to turn this two-acre site into a welcoming and attractive park that will benefit countless District residents,” said Pepco Vice President of Asset Management Mike Maxwell. “The creation of additional green spaces and finding new ways to invest in the environment is consistent with Pepco’s core values and we are eager to see this fast-growing corner of the city benefit from a great new park.”

Great parks and public spaces make great neighborhoods. The residents, workers, and visitors of NoMa have long desired parks and green spaces, and this acquisition is a major step forward in achieving that goal. NoMa is succeeding against difficult odds in acquiring land for parks and in persuading private property owners to create unique and wonderful public spaces on privately-owned land such as the NoMa Meander, a four-block long pedestrian promenade. In the very near future, a full complement of terrific new parks will be part of the remarkable list of amenities that NoMa offers as the premier neighborhood in which to work and live in the District.”

  • Anon

    That’s big enough for an actual park (unlike that tiny plot they secured and 3/L.

  • 11th

    Eckington is the new Noma

    • Bdylan89

      This is great news! I live in Eckington and over the past few years the neighborhood has really come into it’s own.

    • John M

      This is a common misnomer. As a neighborhood, Eckington technically extends down to the FL/NY Ave Intersection but the NoMa BID covers the southern tip of Eckington. That’s why JBG Company wasn’t incorrect when they renamed the Trilogy NoMa into The Gale of Eckington. Also why you see NoMa branded trash cans on the sidewalks in southern Eckington.

  • Anonymous

    Amazing that the the District allocates $50M (yes $50Million!) to NoMa to buy parks but other neighborhoods get shunned and land grabbed from development.

    • jcm

      Right? Meanwhile they’re going to develop housing on Bruce Monroe park on Georgia Ave. I’m happy for the residents of NOMA, because I agree that great parks and public spaces make great neighborhoods. It’s a shame that the city doesn’t have that attitude about my neighborhood.

      • Anonymous

        Your are getting housing but also a redevelopment of Bruce Monroe on the parcel. BM as it currently stands is temporary and feels temporary. It is much too spread out, hopefully the new park they create is better suited to neighborhood use.

        • Anonymous


        • jcm

          I would happily support improving Bruce Monroe on its current footprint. I think part of the reason it feels temporary is that the trees haven’t grown yet. Once they mature, it will feel much better without requiring additional improvements.
          What I don’t support is building a large apartment building across the Georgia Ave frontage, with a basketball court and a small playground in the back, where it will be hidden from all streets because of the slope of Columbia and Irving there. And I’ll bet money that’s what the developers are planning to do, and that is the reason they refuse to release the actual plan. Instead, they keep us screwing around at meetings, promising the world and delivering nothing.

      • Anon

        Money talks, and the NoMa BID has a whole lot of it.

      • well

        That site was always intended for affordable housing development. The District could have left it fenced off for a few years, but instead made it a temporary park. The way some members of the neighborhood are complaining about the development of the site is making it hard for other neighborhoods to get temporary parks on lots slated for development, because the District fears the same griping.

        It is frustrating though that DC didn’t plan for parks when so much of NoMA was rebuilt. Land was so much cheaper there 10 years ago that they could have gotten more park space for less money.

        • d

          Yeah, I support parks but this is such a major handout to developers thanks to the ineptitude and inability of DC government to do any planning.
          1) Buy land cheap; 2) Sit on it; 3) Sell it for substantially more to an organization using taxpayer dollars to create a public amenity that will only increase the value of your remaining holdings in the area. Oh, to be a developer in this town…(I realize in this case it’s Pepco, but in other cases it has been developers).

        • jcm

          No, it wasn’t. It was intended to be a school. If we have to treat Fenty’s plan as gold (which doesn’t make any sense to me, but lots of pro-devlopment people are saying that), then we ought to build a school there. If DCPS doesn’t need it, I’ll bet a charter would be happy to have it.

          Me, I think it should remain a park.

        • textdoc

          “That site was always intended for affordable housing development.” No, it wasn’t. Circa 2009 or 2010, there was a plan for EYA to build a bunch of townhouses there, but that ultimately fell through.

    • John M

      Considering that NoMa currently has ZERO parks due to the Office of Planning’s lack of foresight, it’s really quite fair actually.

    • Eric Says

      I understand that DC is paying 14 million to buy these two acres from Pepco. It was probably part of the back room deals that Bowser was working on with Excelon. It’s especially ironic that we will be destroying 19 acres of parkland at McMillan Park at a substantial financial loss to the city because the city agreed to pay all of the pre-development costs.

  • Truxtoner

    Well, this will be a nice amenity for the people who live in the Gale Eckington. Glad the NOMA Bid dropped $14 million to help whatever management company runs that complex rent out apartments.

    • Anon

      A huge development will soon go in next to the Gale. This will also be a nice amenity for the folks who live in Eckington.

    • Tim

      Commenters here do realize you can utilize this park even if you don’t live directly adjacent to it, right? It’s like the jealous sibling holding out their hands when their brother gets a gift. Frankly I think it’s a great location, unique and accessible by the MBT, and will benefit the residents of noma, the many that will move in to new developments at union market and the JBG development, not to mention the thousands of existing residents of eckington and communities north who have not had these community ammenities.

      • Truxtoner

        Can is not the same as will.

        The point of my gripe was only that it isn’t really even in NOMA and accrues more benefit to residents of Eckington. Which would be great were an Eckington based organization footing the bill. I recognize the NOMA BID has limited options for planning park space and this is as close as probably anything else they could find.

        Then again, I’m also not someone who thinks every single neighborhood needs to have significant green/park space either. It’s okay for some neighborhoods to be characterized by density and others less so. Variety is the spice of life. Clearly the lack of green space hasn’t stopped people from building and moving into NOMA.

        • John M

          This lot lays well within NoMa BID’s boundaries. http://www.nomabid.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/NoMa-Base-Map.pdf

          • Truxtoner

            All that means is that businesses within that boundary pay taxes to support the development within those boundaries. That doesn’t mean the decision to put a park there isn’t a bigger boon for people who don’t actually live in the BID area than those that do, which was my point. The only property/business in that BID in the immediate area rebranded itself as the Gale at Eckington from Trilogy Noma. So that kind of tells you what people think that area is.

            Interestingly, Union Market isn’t part of the BID, but Swampoodle is.

      • Truxtoner

        And just to be clear, I’m very happy about this park. Thank you to NOMA BID for preserving some green space that frankly is as close to me as it will be most who reside in NOMA. I have no doubt I’ll use it.

  • Anonymous

    How can my neighborhood grab on to a fraction of $50M for parks?? Anyone?

    • Anon

      Does your neighborhood have a wealthy BID?

    • spookiness

      Does your neighborhood generate similar tax revenue?

  • quincy

    This is awesome for people in NoMa and the Eckington neighborhood – and for everyone who uses the Metropolitan Branch Trail. I hope the new park can do something to mitigate that awful “S” curve on the MBT at R Street NE.

    • Josh

      More like a Z “curve”, right?

    • Truxtoner

      On another website (can’t remember which) discussing this, the plans did call for subtle changes to the curve to make it less severe than it is. Proposed plans at this point, obviously, but gives hope they are aware of the need to do something about it.

  • eckrez

    It never made sense to me that this is considered NoMa, since it’s in an entirely different ward (and is in an SMD that’s entirely Eckington), but I’m not going to complain about a new park in the neighborhood! Hoping that this brings more access and visibility to the MBT.

  • Anon

    What would make this great / less isolated / more usable is finding an extremely walkable & convenient way to connect the park and the MBT to all the new development planned on the west side of Union Market.


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