2023: A Ground-Breaking Year
After three years of a pandemic, I think we’re all ready for a year we can lean into. The Bridge Park team is super excited about 2023 and here’s the main reason. In 2011 we started working with the community to envision this once in a lifetime civic space. This year that vision will start to manifest itself as we’re going to break ground. We’ve spent the last decade working alongside our neighbors to establish park programming, selecting our incredible design team of OMA+OLIN and engineers from WRA and celebrating together at events like the annual Anacostia River Festival, Taste of the Harvest, lantern walk and installing art amplifying the voices of local residents. In 2023, we’re actually going to put shovels in the earth and realize this community driven green space. Read on to learn why we can’t wait for 2023.
Building a Bridge!
Last fall, we received unanimous approval from two important federal design review agencies – the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission. In early 2023, we’ll finalize permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard allowing our partners at the District Department of Transportation to solicit a general contractor to BUILD the park. Ground-breaking will take place in the second half of this year and the park is scheduled to open in 2025. I know, it’s taken a minute, but there are nearly a dozen local and federal agencies who needed to review our plans. We paused our capital campaign during the pandemic to launch our THRIVE East of the River partnership (the largest privately funded unconditional cash transfer program ever attempted in the United States) and we needed to ensure the thousands of local residents who helped shape the park could be here to enjoy it through our nationally recognized equitable development plan. Working with our partners at LISC DC, we’ve secured over $85MM for affordable housing, workforce training, preservation of local Black businesses and art installations in the surrounding neighborhoods nearly matching the cost of building the park. Thank you for being patient – thank you for staying with us – thank you for being a Bridge Park champion!
River Festival Returns + More!
In April, we’ll unveil our latest art installation at our National Childrens Center Baby Bloomers Bridge Park Plot. Special thanks to the Darryl Chappell Foundation for their support of this important initiative! On May 20, we produce our 9th annual Anacostia River Festival filled with family fun! This afternoon will give a taste of what you’ll experience on Bridge Park 365 days of the year. And this year is super special as we celebrate with our partners at the National Park Service the 100th anniversary of Anacostia Park’s ground-breaking. What a crazy coincidence that the two ground breakings are 100 years apart! We’ll once again partner with Don’t Mute DC to curate our mainstage with Go Go bands, spoken word performances, the U.S. Navy Band and we’ll offer free canoe rides up and down the river. In June, we’ll launch our weekly Community Supported Agriculture and Farmers Market providing East of the River residents with low-cost fresh fruits and vegetables grown at our Bridge Park Plots, THEARC Farm and local farms. And in October, join us for roasting s’mores under the stars at our 7th annual Taste of the Harvest Festival with food tastings, garlic planting and local music. We’re so ready to celebrate with you all year long.
Building an Inclusive District
This year we’ll launch several new equitable development programs including our Mobile Small Business Kiosk designed by the Ward 8 non-profit River East Design Center and in partnership with the Anacostia Business Improvement District. Thanks to a generous grant from Capital One, the kiosk launches at the Anacostia River Festival and from June through December will feature east of the river small businesses each month supporting local entrepreneurs. In June we’ll complete our first Small Business Preservation Pilot (another partnership with the Anacostia BID!) providing pro bono technical assistance from Booz Allen to 10 Black owned businesses along Good Hope Road and $8,000 mini-grants to each business. And thanks to a generous grant from GEICO, we’ll launch the second round of our Closing Cost Assistance Program providing up to $2,500 grants to graduates of our Ward 8 Home Buyers Club – a six year partnership with local affordable housing non-profit Manna. In the fall, we’ll publish our third version of our Equitable Development Plan adding health and wellness strategies.
I hope you can see why we’re so thrilled about 2023. It’s been an honor to lead this community driven effort with the amazing and talented Bridge Park team. We encourage you to reach out and share your ideas, join us for a summer walking tour and let us know how we’re doing. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or our Deputy Director Jessica Lennan Smith at email@example.com.
Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy & joyful 2023.
Senior Vice President, Building Bridges Across the River