Virginia Tech, the 11th Street Bridge Park & Economic Opportunity

Written by Scott Kratz

Urban planning graduate students from Virginia Tech recently completed their semester-long study on economic opportunity and the 11th Street Bridge Park. This is the second year that Virginia Tech has partnered with the 11th Street Bridge Project.  (The first year’s work – available at this link – examined access and walkability to the 11th Street Bridge Park, identified important characteristics of the surrounding neighborhoods, and summarized the best practices in elevated parks.)

At the beginning of the semester, 11th Street Bridge Park Director Scott Kratz met with Professor Margaret Cowell’s students and challenged them to examine three questions:

  1. What are the main developments happening in the surrounding area, how will they impact the 11th Street Bridge Park, and how can these projects be leveraged to complement community/economic development related to the 11th Street Bridge Park?
  2. What role do small businesses play in Wards 7 and 8 and what role might they play in the 11th Street Bridge Park to ensure and incentivize local hiring practices and capture value within the neighborhood?
  3. What tools and strategies are available to secure sustainable funding for the operation and maintenance of the park?

Ten students divided into three teams, one for each of the three questions. After interviewing local officials, speaking with community members and conducting extensive research, the report is complete and includes:

  1. An overview of the significant real estate developments surrounding the Bridge Park site that could impact the number of potential visitors and the services offered nearby. This development includes almost 6 million square feet of office, 1.6 million square feet of retail, 8,000 residential units, and 700 hotel rooms.
  2. Recommendations to specifically help Anacostia small businesses grow in advance and as a result of the Bridge Park.Recommendations include leveraging the growing art community, creating physical and programmatic links between the Bridge Park and Anacostia, and organizing around a central body to coordinate programs.
  3. An inventory and analysis of sustainable operating and maintenance funding options for the Bridge Park. These include public funding mechanisms, leveraging private funding, and creating earned income.

Our report is now available to the public here (scroll down to “Resources.”) We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to hearing your feedback.

Please contact Professor Margaret Cowell with any questions or comments (

Margaret Cowell, PhD
Urban Affairs and Planning, Virginia Tech