Info Hub and EM Metro Plaza Plans Continue to Evolve
Bike Storage Upgrade Is Likely
by Larry Janezich
Chuck Burger, CHRS Board member, told the Restoration Society Board Tuesday night that major developments on the Info Hub proposed for Eastern Market Metro Plaza had taken place in the last 30 days. A final design and final drawings are expected shortly – it is likely the structure will shrink by ten feet to provide a better fit into a new location and to bring it into scale with its surroundings.
CELEBRATE the nonprofit foundation created by members of CHAMPS to promote commercial development on the Hill, has commitments for $50,000 in contributions to cover three years of operating costs for the Hub. DOT required CELEBRATE to raise the funds before DOT will move ahead with the project. Fund raising by CELEBRATE will be an ongoing process, since the estimated annual operating costs for the Hub have increased from $16,000 to $20 – $22,000. Once a memorandum of understanding (MOU) is reached with the community regarding the operation of the Info Hub, DOT can issue a request for proposals (RFP) which will initiate the contracting process. CELEBRATE anticipates that this will be the first of several projects to promote the Pennsylvania Avenue and Barracks Row commercial corridor.
Burger described ideas in play for the plaza to make it more useable for the community – emphasizing that nothing is set in stone. Major changes for bike storage look likely. According to Burger, the so-called “bike coffins” at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 7th Street are unsightly and underused. One proposal would relocate the secure bike parking from that corner to the triangle between Dunkin’ Donuts and Pennsylvania Avenue. WAMATA insists on secure storage for 15 – 20 percent of the bike parking. One suggestion to address this requirement involves a cage facility accessed by a time card that would permit short term 48 hours storage. Bikes racks for additional parking may be placed across from the Library and surrounded with greenery. Additional bike racks might roughly parallel the Bikeshare rack on Pennsylvania Avenue, but lie closer to the Info Hub.
CELEBRATE fully supports ANC6B’s request to redo the landscape. ANC6B expects that a formal request to DOT for Performance Parking Funds for this purpose will be forthcoming. Some of the details being discussed for the landscaping plan involve raising the planting areas and surrounding them with low walls 12 to 30 inches high, some of which could provide seating for plaza users. An underground irrigation system is being discussed to water the new landscaping, as is incorporating a rain garden into the design.
DOT has agreed to fund the $180,000 Info Hub from Performance Parking Funds designated to be returned to the community for non-automotive transportation projects. Burger said that an advisory board – comprised of representatives of Capitol Hill BID, the CHRS and other stakeholders, will oversee the operation of the Info Hub.