- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 13, 2002

The Champs Elysees in Paris, New York's Brooklyn Bridge and the George Washington Memorial Parkway are all eye-catching gateways that usher visitors into great cities and exactly the sort of dramatic entryway the District needs on its south side, according to city and congressional leaders.
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, will lead a host of city officials in a press conference today explaining his vision for an improved South Capitol Street corridor.
"Mr. Hoyer would like [South Capitol Street] to be a grand boulevard like the Champs Elysees in Paris," said Stacey Farnen, spokeswoman for Mr. Hoyer.
His vision, which includes a tree-canopied stretch with a mix of homes and shops adorning its borders, are part of the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative. It will replace the dead zone of decrepit abandoned buildings, carwashes, liquor stores and stale brick and concrete facades presently seen on the District's main southern thoroughfare.
"The idea is to create an aesthetically pleasant environment and move away from the current look of an extension of the highway," said Ewe Brandes, project manager for the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative.
Mr. Brandes said the plans presented will resemble the original design of French architect Pierre Charles L'Enfant and Benjamin Banneker, who were responsible for the design of Washington, D.C., for the gateway streets of North, East and South Capitol streets.
D.C. officials have been touting their visions of the future for the Anacostia Waterfront and what its gateway should look like for several months.
In his State of the District address, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said his vision of the waterfront includes restoring the river's wetlands, building a river walk, waterfront neighborhoods, boat piers and museums.
Mr. Hoyer got $500,000 appropriated for the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a study on the redevelopment project for the road on Nov. 30, 2001. The study is slated to be finished by Sept. 30, 2003.
But, "he will announce his desire to have the study completed by this time next year instead of the fall," Mrs. Farnen said.
The increased congressional interest to speed up the study is seen by most, including D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Democrat, and officals from the D.C. Office of Planning as a step in the right direction. Mrs. Norton sees the planned changes to South Capitol as a link to her plans for developing the Southeast Federal Center.
"What Steny is doing jells beautifully with my plans for the Federal Center," Mrs. Norton said.
She recently told The Washington Times her vision included developing the 55 acres of the now desolate Federal Center into a mixed use of commercial office space, hotels, restaurants and condominiums along the river's edge.
"I put in a bill to allow private developers to raise money and build on the federal land," Mrs. Norton said.
The Federal Center would be the only federally owned land to have private development, she said, adding that the General Services Administration will send out requests for qualifications this month for private developers.
"The next step will be a competition request for proposals as to what to put on the property," Mrs. Norton said.
A plan to put the new D.C. Department of Transportation Office at the Federal Center is already in the works, she said.
In addition to announcing the design for the new look of South Capitol Street, Mr. Williams is expected to announce the appointment of a new deputy director for the waterfront initiative within the D.C. transportation office at the news conference.


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