Information Hub Presented to Restoration Board as Economic Development Piece -Implications for Redesign of Metro Plaza
by Larry Janezich
At Tuesday’s Capitol Hill Restoration Society Board meeting, Chuck Berger, speaking as a member of the ad-hoc “Sign Tigers” group developing the Hub concept, presented the final four choices for the Metro Plaza Information Hub. It seems likely that only two will be seriously considered, both proposals from Catholic University School of Architecture. Referring to one as “The Arch” and the other as “The Glass Cube” Berger explained that the choices had been narrowed from a field of some 20 designs based on criteria including design, functionality, and a $125,000 – $150,000 budget. An additional criterion appears to be easy dismantling and relocate-ability. “People have big plans for the Plaza. Not much is likely to happen for the next five – or the next five, six, seven, or eight years, but in the interim the Hub will satisfy immediate and on-going needs”. The “big plans” mentioned is apparently a reference to the controversial proposed redesign of the Plaza being pushed by Barracks Row Main Street (BRMS). The time frame will coincide with the completion of the Hine School redevelopment project.
Berger stressed that the project is more than an information hub – that it is an economic development piece. “If the area is to grow, it will have to develop an (entertainment) atmosphere” – a concept at odds with the vision of some of the nearby Barracks Row residential neighbors who are pushing for a ban on additional liquor licenses for 8th Street.
Funding for the project will come from the Performance Parking Fund – parking fees garnered as the result of additional metered parking associated with the impact of Nationals Stadium. Berger noted that the city will own the structure but “we have to figure out how to get an operating budget for this. We will be looking for heavy contributions.”
Berger’s mission is to solicit input from the community groups and government entities which have been part of the information hub process – CHAMPS, EMMCA, BRMS, Capitol Hill BID, DDOT, and the Office of Tommy Wells. He elicited comments from the Board, and asked them to visit the website to express additional comments.
He suggested further discussion at next month’s Board meeting and while not necessarily asking for a vote on one of the designs, he hoped to get some sense of the Board’s preference that he could take to the DDOT Advisory Board. In addition to Berger, other members of the Advisory Board include out-going ANC Chair Dave Garrison; BRMS Outreach Manager, Sharon Bosworth; and “representatives from SW and far SE”. The Advisory Board will make a recommendation to DDOT and DDOT will decide what to do.
The public can also comment on the designs, and EMMCA members are urged to do so. To view designs and comment go to: easternmarketmetrohub.wordpress.com