A Public/Private Collaboration for Coordinated Action
Mount Vernon Triangle, 30 acres of underutilized urban land between Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey Avenues, has been a focus area for the District of Columbia since the adoption of the “Living Downtown” Policy in 1984, which set its sights on the Triangle as the location of a new downtown residential and mixed-use neighborhood.
The Mount Vernon Triangle Action Agenda, derives from policy goals set forth in previous public planning efforts, as well as from an assessment of recent public actions, public assets, and current private sector development in the new, rapidly emerging Downtown. The Action Agenda is the result of a joint effort by the District of Columbia, the Office of Planning (OP) and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED); the National Capitol Revitalization Corporation (NCRC), the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), and the Mount Vernon Triangle Alliance (the Alliance).
The Alliance is a group of ten major property owners in the Triangle who are committed to its collaborative development. This consortium of five partners has recognized that the opportunity to create a new neighborhood from the ground up is rare in a central urban setting, and is a particularly unusual undertaking for existing private landholders. All understand that this is an important opportunity to draw new residents from outside of the City as well as to attract residents looking for a unique urban experience not available in other neighborhoods. They share a common goal of creating a distinctive, vibrant neighborhood.
They also believe that coordinated implementation of public and private improvements will not only facilitate faster development but will create an area with greater amenity and economic value to both private owners and the City, in the form of increased income and tax revenues. A neighborhood with a higher level of value and amenity will in turn have a greater benefit to adjacent neighborhoods to the north and east of the Triangle as well as to the physical development of Downtown as a whole.
Overarching goals for the Triangle outlined at the outset of this public/private collaboration included reaffirming the following consensus objectives from the preceding planning efforts:
• Recognize the importance of residential development and supporting retail to the downtown
• Promote affordable housing, neighborhood amenities, and protect existing residential neighborhoods and community institutions
• Respond to the current market demands of empty-nesters, young professionals and non-traditional families seeking down town housing, while still providing choices that are affordable and accommodate parents and children
• Provide locational opportunities for nonprofit institutions and non-traditional, innovative businesses
• Foster the development of smaller-scale performing arts, museum and gallery spaces
• Create synergies with adjoining neighborhoods including Shaw and the growing downtown
In addition to these objectives, vision, land-use and economic goals were established. These included creating a truly livable, majority residential, mixed-use neighborhood with a core of creative activity, a “smart” neighborhood that is wired for the latest technology, and a great address for institutional, non-profit and corporate tenants. They also included working within existing zoning requirements, with the exception of new overlays, to achieve a mixed-use build-out of residences, offices, hotels, cultural uses and retail.
Finally, they included investing and guiding District and Alliance resources toward accelerating the Triangle’s development, maximizing tax revenues and job creation for the District, and enhancing the value of all properties within the Triangle.