1 Aug, 2017

Dormant for 40 Years, The Yards Brings the Waterfront to Life

By Robert Wilkes

Children splashing under a waterfall in an enormous wading pool, a parade of mothers pushing strollers down the boardwalk, yoga classes, concerts, artisanal ice cream, taco-Korean fusion cuisine, residential apartments in a former Navy Yard foundry and office working spaces in a repurposed lumber shed are some of the things you’ll find at The Yards on the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C.

The water is humming with life as well. Water taxis soon will take people to work and play. Paddleboards and kayaks explore the river, and on the Education Dock, Living Classrooms Foundation, a non-profit organization, teaches disadvantaged youth life skills and gives them hands-on job training. On game day boaters moor at The Yards Marina, have dinner in an au courant locally owned restaurant, walk to Nationals Park baseball stadium to see a game and return home under the stars by boat — avoiding the traffic snarl on the highways. The Yards development has made this 48-acre, once-abandoned industrial site explode with life and created a new neighborhood on the river.

Few areas in the U.S. have as much unrealized potential for waterfront development as Washington, D.C. Bordered by the Potomac and bisected by the Anacostia Rivers, the District of Columbia has waterfront in abundance, much of it formerly federal land. D.C. boat owners typically drive to Annapolis and put their boats in the Chesapeake Bay.

The rivers will no longer be lifeless backdrops in tourist photographs. They will be buzzing with boats, water taxis and excursion cruises. Projects like The Yards are now coming on line thanks to large-scale public-private partnerships. The Yards Marina is now operating on the Anacostia and a nearby major development with a marina is soon to open on the Potomac.

Community Development

The developer of The Yards is Forest City Realty Trust in partnership with a number of federal, local and non-profit agencies and organizations. The project is a long-term commitment to benefit the community. Sarah Forde, development director for Forest City, said, “We are committed to hire locally and engage with small and local businesses. So it’s not just about pouring money into infrastructure, the marina and buildings. It’s about creating jobs, creating exciting public spaces and getting everyone in the community involved with the waterfront.”

The Yards will feature 3,400 residential units, 400,000 square feet of retail, dining and services, and 1.8 million square feet of office space at full build-out, expected in 15 to 20 years. Forest City estimates the investment will ultimately be $2 billion and will include 25 buildings on 48 acres. Three historic buildings, the Lumber Shed, the Foundry Lofts and the Boilermaker Shop, are protected under the National Historic Preservation Act.


The_Yards_Brings_the_Waterfront_to_LifeMDA2017.pdf The_Yards_Brings_the_Waterfront_to_LifeMDA2017.pdf