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Here's a news item that people have been waiting on for a good long while--the official Canal Park groundbreaking ceremony has been scheduled for Monday, August 30 Tuesday, August 31, at 10:45 am, with the mayor expected to be in attendance. Construction on the three-block publicly funded park is expected to take 12 to 14 months, so look for it to be finished in probably late 2011--just in time to get a lot of use out of the ice skating rink.
[Here's a slightly edited version of a description I wrote a few months ago] For those who haven't been following along, Canal Park will stretch from I to M streets SE along the two parts of Second Street--some people may know this location as the open field across from Subway and Five Guys, about three blocks northeast of Nationals Park. The southern block, across from the US Department of Transportation headquarters, will have a large plaza, a "significant water feature" that will transform into an ice skating rink in winter, and a large two-level pavilion that will be home to a cafe and observation area. The middle block has a rain garden, a children's play area, a small performance stage, and an open lawn. The northern block, the "most pastoral of the three," will have a large open lawn, and the slight grade of the block as it slopes upward toward I Street has allowed the designers to envision this as an informal amphitheater, for events like summer movie nights and whatnot. There is also a "linear rain garden" that runs along the eastern edge of the park's three blocks. (Note that K and L streets will still be open to traffic, though there will be well-marked crosswalks.)
If you want to know more, visit the park's official web site. Or my page, if you want to see lots of photos of schoolbuses from the old days. And this report from the National Capital Planning Commission goes deep into the design, if you want to know *still* more. And you can read all my old Canal Park blog posts, back to the beginning, to relive the long road to this groundbreaking.
This groundbreaking will be just a week before the opening of the neighborhood's other new signature open space, the Yards Park, just a few blocks to the south, along the Anacostia River.
UPDATED: The groundbreaking has shifted by one day, to Tuesday, August 31.
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R says: (8/23/10 3:02 PM)
Is it me or does there seem to be a lot more projects gaining new life again? This is positive news for SE DC! Wonderful.


JD says: (8/23/10 3:09 PM)
It does seem that way, though I'd caution that the all of the projects with "life" right now--Capitol Quarter Phase II, Yards Park, Foundry Lofts, and Canal Park--each are either completely or partially funded with public $$$.

When a development gets started that has no public funds attached to it, that will be a bit more telling as to the state of the commercial real estate market (and the banking industry).


F says: (8/23/10 4:17 PM)
Lets not forget 1015 Half St. Yes, it was partially finished before it was taken over after bankruptcy, but I believe its 100% privately funded.

I think we need to get some JDLand bloggers to write to Panera, Clydes, Mortons, Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods, Legal Seafood, Tasca, etc and let them know that we're waiting for them to come!


JD says: (8/23/10 4:22 PM)
F, one small correction: There's only one JDLand *blogger*. The legions you are referring to are commenters. :-)



c says: (8/23/10 5:28 PM)
but you said there wasn't going to be another groundbreaking because they already did one, oh never mind

best news ever, thanks to the minions for pushing on this and to everyone at the Canal Park Development Association for setting a time line and sticking to it


JD says: (8/23/10 5:36 PM)
Curt--When did I ever say such a thing? The ceremony years ago wasn't a groundbreaking, it was the presentation of the check from the USDOT pilot fund. I've known for months there was going to be a groundbreaking at the end of the summer.

But, clearly it makes you feel better to take shots at me (since you do it in so many of your comments, no matter which username you post under), so today's missive from you is right in line with that. I'm glad your day is complete now!


AKR says: (8/23/10 5:36 PM)
Thanks again for all the detail. I'm a little disappointed that there's not more green space. It looks a least half of the land will no longer be green space - but rather a stone plaza. Is the cafe supposed to be publically run?


JD says: (8/23/10 5:39 PM)
AKR--That plaza is only on the southern block--as the park moves northward across the other two blocks, there's much more green space. The southern plaza is meant to be very "active," since it's so close to M Street and big office buildings.

I don't know any details about the cafe at this point.


MJM says: (8/23/10 6:22 PM)
Those sections are pretty big if you look at an overhead shot - I think in the end people will be surprised with the amount of green space that will be there. With that park and 5.5 acres along the river and the eventual river trail we are gonna have a lot more green space than some parts of the city. Plus I'm looking forward to the ice skating portion!


Mark says: (8/24/10 10:45 AM)
Great news! Thanks for passing it along JD.


Misplaced says: (8/24/10 3:52 PM)
Ditto on the ice skating portion MJM. I can't think of another outdoor ice skating rink (however big or small) in DC proper, can anyone else? I imagine that should garner a little bit of foot traffic during the offseason no?


David Garber says: (8/24/10 4:12 PM)
@Misplaced,

There's the ice rink at the sculpture garden on the mall, and in Pershing Park also across from the Willard on Penn Ave... but this will certainly be the most "neighborhood"-y rink in DC.


Misplaced says: (8/24/10 5:35 PM)
I don't know how I forgot about the Gallery's rink. My girlfriend and I go there often during the winter!

Either way, judging by the designs it'll be more than just an oval shape rink, which should make it plenty different from the other offerings!

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