Washington, DC’s 11th Street Bridge Park is an idea to develop an out-of-use commuter bridge into a public park that would serve as a venue for recreation, arts, and culture. From its start in 2011, the project held a second goal: to be a driver of equity in the city, particularly for Black residents in Wards 7 and 8, who have long experienced disinvestment and barriers to accessing the resources blooming in other parts of the city.
Today, the Bridge Park team is entering its fifth year of implementing the Equitable Development Plan (EDP), a strategy outlining four critical equity areas: housing, arts and culture, workforce development, and small business. The Urban Institute has undertaken a multiyear evaluation of the implementation. This report provides insight into the Bridge Park’s progress along these focus areas.
The Four Equity Focus Areas
- Small business. The EDP’s small business focal area concentrates on supporting new and existing small businesses surrounding the Bridge Park both directly and through partnerships with economic development organizations and others.
- Bridge Park’s housing strategy has a two-pronged approach of creating affordability and spreading information and advocacy for housing affordability. Developing affordability focuses on the creation and preservation of affordable units for long-term affordability and creating a pathway to ownership for low-income households.
- Workforce development. Workforce development in the EDP has strategies that focus heavily on construction jobs, with additional strategies that overlap with the cultural preservation focus area. The emphasis on construction was intended to ensure that workers in Wards 7 and 8 were trained and prepared to benefit from the development occurring in the area generally and the park’s construction specifically.
- Arts and culture. Bridge Park’s arts and culture focal area identifies the Bridge Park as a platform to celebrate the history and culture of communities on both sides of the Anacostia River and to amplify the stories, culture, and heritage of Black residents from surrounding communities, such as Barry Farm and Hillcrest. Bridge Park’s arts and culture work along with its efforts to build community power are goals that cut across the EDP.