At the February MVSNA meeting there was a brief discussion on the corner of 4th and L. This area of course is along the primary trouble spot for prostitution in our area. The district owns vacant land to the east of the intersection that could be used to transform this seedy pocket and create more eyes on the street.
How to best transform this city land is not a straight forward proposition. Long term DDOT goals are to reconnect L Street NW and 3rd Street NW over I-395 (rendering). Another long term possibility is the truncation of I-395 at Mass Ave which is being studied. I don’t personally anticipate much movement on either of these items in the next 8-10 years.
I do think that preserving an unobstructed L Street right of way so that these future DDOT plans are not undermined is extremely important. However this limits the development potential of the city’s L parcel.
Leaving the parcel vacant for 5-10 years should not be an option. A temporary use of the land seems to be what the doctor ordered. The two primary options would be a dog park or community garden. While I am not a dog owner I would lean towards a well lit enclosed dog park. The year round and around the clock use would be greater. I also wonder if the hookers wouldn’t just raid a community garden for food or vandalize it when no one is around.
Would the opportunity to unleash their beloved canines be a strong enough draw to pull dog owners from Mass Ave hi-rises or from north of N.Y. Ave to this currently seedy spot? Would area dog owners show enough commitment to go through the lengthy petition process? Would they have enough critical mass to create a dog owner coalition, similar to Shawdogs.org, to maintain the grounds? I hope the answers are YES as this may be our best option to clean up this stretch of Fourth street.
UPDATE [2/19/09 @ 11am] This older satellite image from Microsoft’s Local Live shows the homeless trailers that Si Kailian mentioned were at this location not too long ago.