The National Building Museum hosted “Smart Growth: Reimagining Industrial Areas in Washington, D.C.,” on Jan. 13, where Andrea Limauro and Tracy Gabriel, both associate directors of Neighborhood Planning from the District of Columbia Office of Planning, presented Ward 5 Works, a transformation proposal for a sector of Northeast D.C. As part of the ten-part series focusing on sustainable development strategies and community character, the presenters detailed their nine-year analysis of Ward 5—the specific area of Northeast D.C. they believe could be a prime spot for a creative economy, environmental jobs, and food production—and the possible solutions to reinvigorate the community with current national economic trends. "In order to create the right vision and identity, and the right goals and solutions, we had to go through a very robust existing conditions analysis," Gabriel said of their research.
Here are the main points from the talk to accomplish these goals within a five-year timeframe:
1. The area already has over 500 established businesses in construction, transportation, and manufacturing that provide at least 10,000 jobs. With an already sustainable economy, this type of environment is ideal for small-business owners, such as those in the food production industry or creative economy, and provides a place for entry-level workers, garnering a younger population, to get a start in their career within the aforementioned fields.
2. Under-leased and nuisance properties—along with the recent market forces—have stunted the growth of Ward 5, characterizing it with anonymity and community separation from the rest of the city. The proposal provides four instances in other cities, such as the arts and design hubs in Brooklyn, to The Strip District in Philadelphia that provides a two-mile strip of mixed food businesses, that ameliorated a similar problem by providing a place for people living in other places of the city to flock to, and ultimately creating a hub for integration.
3. The buildings in Ward 5 have unique, industrial buildings that can be reused. According to page 15 of their plan, "repurposing and improving the efficient use of industrial land will accommodate more businesses attracted to the layout functionality and low cost of industrial spaces," while also contributing to the Sustainable D.C. Plan—a federal initiative to make the nation’s capital more sustainable by 2023.