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Poplar Point Could Be DC’s Next Great Development—Here’s How

Three ideas for one of the city's biggest open plots.

A shot taken at Poplar Point, right across from Nationals Park. Photograph via Flickr.

Earlier this year, DC’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development announced that it’s exploring what to do with Poplar Point, a 110-acre site on the east side of the Anacostia River. Much of the space is currently owned by the federal government, and that land will eventually be transferred to the city. We asked some developers and urban planners for ideas.

A University Campus

Real-estate developer Redbrick LMD owns the roughly one-third of the site not owned by the government. The company is pushing to be the developer for the entire area, and part of its vision is to invite a school. “It’s a fantastic location for an academic campus,” says Redbrick managing partner Thomas Skinner, who would also like to see a ferry terminal and an arts district.

A Neighborhood and Park

Georgetown University’s Uwe Brandes, a longtime urban planner, envisions eateries, retail, and extensive green space. “No longer are you thinking about locations east of the river as isolated and landlocked by highways,” he says. “You could imagine sitting at a restaurant overlooking a beautiful park and boats on the river with the Capitol in the background.”

Affordable Housing

What discussion of DC development would be complete without talk of low-cost living space? Andy Altman, the District’s former planning director under mayor Anthony Williams, hopes that will be a focus. “There’s a real need for affordable housing,” he says. “You could build a great neighborhood on the waterfront.”

This article appears in the July 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

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Assistant Editor

Elliot joined Washingtonian in January 2018. An alum of Villanova University, he grew up in the Philadelphia area before earning a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University. His work has also appeared in the Washington Post, TheAtlantic.com, and DCist.com, among others. He lives in Bloomingdale.