Following up on the vision for the public space at the Potomac Ave Metro station, I wanted to offer a glimpse at what the square might look like in the future. All of the great squares, circles, and other urban spaces are not just defined by their public spaces, but also by the buildings that frame the space. With the addition of Jenkins Row to this intersection, Potomac Ave is approaching both a complete streetwall around the square, as well as the critical mass of various neighborhood services.
With that in mind, I turn to the draft of the Pennsylvania Avenue SE Land Development Plan. Of specific interest for this intersection is the Potomac Ave sub-area plan. This iteration identifies the 1401 Pennsylvania parcell as a key redevelopment opportunity. A quick glance at the area will quickly identify the SE corner of the square as the weak link, containing a couple of vacant lots, a parking lot, and New York Pizza. Living in the area, I love what NY Pizza brings to the ‘hood, so I would sure hope that any redevelopment helps them find a new home. Even so, you can totally tell it used to be a Pizza Hut.
With Jenkins Row filling in the old gap on the eastern edge of the square, this parcel is the one missing link (aside from the Metro station plaza). As such, the plan calls for new mixed-use construction at the side in the same mold as the Jenkins Row development – first floor retail with office and/or residential above.
A couple of points stand out. First, when combined with the reconfiguration of the intersection’s traffic flow, buildings fronting on the new square ought to see more foot traffic – at a very least, the sidewalks they front on should be far more attractive to pedestrians walking either around the square or passing through it.
Second, the current Metro plaza, as mentioned above, would then be the one missing part of the streetwall enclosing this square. Given that the station is such a focus for foot traffic, this is fine – but one potential benefit is that a taller structure on the 1401 site is directly in the line of sight of Metro patrons coming out of the station’s escalator well.
All together, such a project could be the keystone in the arch for this public space. As of right now, I’m unaware of any specific plans for the site. I’ll just enjoy my pizza until then.
But seriously, if this site does get developed soon, you gotta keep the pizza.