L’Enfant Plaza Promenade Receives $33+ Million In Appropriations for Massive Renovations as a Critical Connective Gateway to Upcoming New Waterfront in Nation’s Capitol
Washington, DC, September 21, 2004 – The Washington Interdependence Council (WIC), a non-profit civic agency, authorized by Congress [P.L. 105355] to establish a monument to colonial American hero, Benjamin Banneker [1731-1806], lobbied the U.S. Department of Transportation, under the aegis of its TEA21 fund, for over three years enlisting the agency to renovate L’Enfant Plaza. A half mile long concourse, located directly across the street from the entrance of the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall, at 10th and Independence Ave., SW, a now under utilized and uninviting enclave, is well on its way to becoming a critical link between cultural offerings in the nation’s capitol thanks to six years of civic advocacy efforts made by the Washington Interdependence Council. “From the outset, in 1996, we knew that in order to be able to have a world class memorial to Benjamin Banneker along this diamond in the rough, we needed to find a way to upgrade the site to make it more enticing for tourists to trek across over to witness what will become a world class memorial to this great American hero,” says Peggy Seats, Founder of the Washington Interdependence Council.
The DC Department of Transportation, D.DOT, recently released its 2005-2010 budget which lists an appropriation of $21,280,000 in Phase II funding for the continuation of its renovation campaign of L’Enfant Plaza, inclusive of Benjamin Banneker Overlook Park. After signing off on the MOA authorizing the renovation in 2000, a funding appropriation was disbursed to D.DOT from the U.S. Department of Transportation for $12 million in Phase I funds to facilitate the retention of Parsons Brinckerhoff and HNTB as the general and subcontractors, respectively; to prepare the L’Enfant Plaza Urban Study and Environmental Assessment Plans; to conduct Public Outreach workshops and to make emergency structural repairs at the site. The recently budgeted $21+ million in Phase II funding will underwrite the cost of the preponderance of the structural and aesthetic improvements to be made at the site, both on its surface and subterranean levels. This makes for a total of over $33 million in appropriations to address this gateway connective corridor as a critical link not only between the Mall and the soon to be new world class waterfront, but also between the Portals, home to the new upscale Mandarin Hotel, and the waterfront. A pedestrian overpass is proposed to link the Portals to L’Enfant Plaza from Maryland Ave., SW to transport patrons over to the new cultural offerings such as the forthcoming Banneker Memorial, the new $100 million National Capitol Children’s Museum already slated for placement there, and new waterfront.
As part of the massive renovation, an 1150 car/40 tour bus parking garage will be sited at Banneker Overlook Park. In 1996, when WIC began on its journey to establish a memorial to Banneker, placement in the circle was anticipated; however, in 1999 the agency received site approval from the National Capital Memorial Commission to place his memorial along L’Enfant Plaza. Presidential memorials, museums and/or a baseball park have been discussed as prospective cultural offerings under consideration for placement there now. Additional Phase III funding will most likely be appropriated once it is determined which of these prospects will be sited there.
The Washington Interdependence Council has promoted a vision for its new tourism and economic development initiative for eight years now which will include new Lush Landscaping, Benches, Trees, New Lighting, Overhead Canopy, Federal Founder’s Visitors Center, Banneker Memorial, Tower Clock, Historic Preservation Exhibits, Art, Outdoor Sidewalk Cafes and a host of other amenities to complement waterfront development, while diversifying the inventory of monumental status symbols in the nation’s capitol.
Copyright, Washington Interdependence Council, 2017