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Anacostia Waterfront Initiative (AWI)

Photo of the Anacostia River

On March 22, 2000, 19 Federal and District agencies committed themselves to the unprecedented effort of restoring the Anacostia River, its waterfronts and adjoining communities and parks through the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative (AWI). In 2003, the Anacostia Waterfront Framework Plan (AWI Plan) set a visionary and ambitious agenda for the revitalization of the Anacostia waterfront as a world-class destination and the center of 21st century Washington, DC. The AWI Plan set in motion the implementation of a comprehensive blueprint for transformation including new mixed-income neighborhoods, environmental restoration, transportation infrastructure, enhanced public access, new connected parks, and cultural destinations. You can learn more about implementation of the transportation vision in particular by visiting the District Department of Transportation’s website on the AWI Transportation Master Plan.

2018 was Year of Anacostia, a yearlong initiative to honor the history and celebrate progress on the Anacostia River and its surroundings. This momentous year also comes at the 15-year anniversary of the AWI Plan. Today, the turnaround of the Anacostia waterfront is a national model for urban rivers in terms of environmental restoration, public access, economic development, and inclusive growth. The Anacostia Waterfront Interagency Working Group continues to carry out the mission of the AWI Plan and collaborates on a bi-monthly basis in order to maximize the potential of the Anacostia Waterfront for economic development, revitalization, recreation, and environmental value, while promoting resilience and equity. As a deliverable of the Working Group, the Office of Planning is working with other agencies to publish an Anacostia Waterfront Progress Report in Summer 2018, which will be a comprehensive look back on the revitalization of the Anacostia River and Waterfront and the issues and opportunities ahead.

AWI Plan Themes


The Framework Plan identifies five critical themes to guide the creation of a great waterfront along the Anacostia River. These five themes are:

  1. A Clean and Active River
    The AWI charts the course for environmental healing and the rejuvenation of water-dependent activities on the Anacostia River. Pollution must be mitigated, run-off controlled, streams and wetlands restored and water activities promoted.

  2. Eliminating Barriers and Gaining Access
    The AWI reconsiders the design of transportation infrastructure in order to gain access to waterfront lands and better serve waterfront neighborhoods. The community must be able to get to the waterfront on beautiful streets and bridges that become gateways to the river’s parks and amenities.

  3. A Great Urban Riverfront Park System
    The AWI creates a system of interconnected and continuous waterfront parks that will be linked by the Anacostia Riverwalk and Trail. The Anacostia RiverParks system will rival the great waterfront parks of the world and provide open space for adjoining neighborhoods, the city and the nation.

  4. Cultural Destinations of Distinct Character
    The AWI enhances and protects the distinct character of regional destinations along the waterfront. This will help create a vibrant waterfront that celebrates the cultural heritage of the river’s neighborhoods, the city and the nation.

  5. Building Strong Waterfront Neighborhoods
    The AWI promotes sustainable economic development and re-connects the city to the river through new neighborhoods and the waterfront park system by creating opportunities to live, work and play along the river.

For more information on the AWI Plan and current efforts, please contact Melissa Bird, Associate Director, at [email protected] or 202-442-7600.