Though isolated and poorly maintained, the 66-acre tract known as Reservation 13, bordering the west bank of the Anacostia River just south of RFK Stadium, is a parcel with incredible potential.
The federally owned, Metro-accessible waterfront property, home to the shuttered D.C. General Hospital, the D.C. Jail, various health clinics and vacant buildings, demands something better, its neighbors in the Hill East neighborhood say. Since Congress agreed last week to turn over the land to the city’s control, residents hope the District will finally implement the Reservation 13 master plan.
"It could be an absolutely beautiful place, an enhancement to life in the city," said Jim Myers, co-founder of the Hill East Waterfront Action Network. "What we don’t want is it continuing to be a dumping ground."
Adopted by the D.C. Council in 2003, the master plan envisions a mixed-use urban waterfront neighborhood in an area bounded by Independence Avenue SE to the north, Congressional Cemetery to the south, 19th Street to the west and the Anacostia River to the east.
The plan calls for extending Massachusetts Avenue to a new monument traffic circle, a new waterfront park and roughly 800 residences, in addition to commercial, recreation and municipal space.
The Reservation 13 project is under the purview of the Anacostia Waterfront Corp.; the master plan is the guiding force behind the redevelopment, AWC President and CEO Adrian Washington said.
The secluded site has long hosted the facilities nobody else wants, neighbors say. There was talk of a bioterrorism laboratory and rumors of a crematorium. The defunct National Capital Medical Centerwas slated for the parcel, and now a smaller health clinic is in the works. Residents were angry to learn of a new 80-bed shelter for women in the former hospital cafeteria.
The Reservation 13 master plan has a solid mix of revenue-producing development and public facilities, said outgoing Ward 6 D.C. Council Member Sharon Ambrose.