The DC Office of Planning (OP) is pleased to announce that the Southwest Neighborhood Plan was selected for the 2016 “Outstanding Plan” award by the American Planning Association-National Capital Area Chapter (APA-NCAC).

The Southwest Neighborhood Plan is a small area plan OP developed between 2013 and 2015 that was adopted by the DC Council. The plan represents the first substantive community-wide dialogue with Southwest residents about how to shape the future of a community experiencing population growth and major new development.

The Southwest neighborhood, located south of the I-395 Freeway and the National Mall, underwent massive redevelopment during Urban Renewal in the 1950s and 1960s that resulted in a residential enclave reflective of Modernist architecture. In the past 10 years, Southwest has been undergoing significant changes. The 2002 Anacostia Waterfront Initiative brought renewed interest to the District’s waterfront communities along the Southwest Channel and Anacostia River. Southwest’s population, nearly 12,000, is expected to almost double over the next 20 years. Recent major changes in Southwest include the reopening of 4th St. SW, adjacent to the Waterfront Metrorail station, and the addition of new office space, retail and residential buildings, not far from The Wharf, a new mixed-use development currently under construction on 24 acres of land at 50 acres of waterfront.

“The Southwest Neighborhood Plan exemplifies the District government’s commitment to supporting equitable development and promoting inclusive growth in our rapidly changing city,” said Planning Director Eric D. Shaw. “The Southwest community served as dedicated partners in making this plan a progressive blueprint and a model for other neighborhoods.”

OP developed the Southwest Neighborhood Plan through an extensive community engagement and participatory planning process with a commitment to advocate for the neighborhood’s most vulnerable populations. The plan presents a vision, based on community consensus, of creating a thriving, active environment that preserves and enhances the Southwest neighborhood’s culture and character. The plan includes 11 Guiding Principles that provide direction and values to the plan concepts and more than 60 actionable recommendations. The goal is to ensure Southwest remains a “model community,” an inclusive and equitable neighborhood amid population change and development that integrates neighborhood-scale sustainability and quality physical design.

The Southwest Neighborhood Plan includes recommendations for investment in the Southwest Library, neighborhood parks, the 4th St. and M St. SW commercial corridors, and I St. SW as a “cultural corridor” to enhance social interaction that helps build community cohesion. The plan honors Southwest’s demographic diversity and also acknowledges and celebrates diversity in its architectural stock and building scale, housing types, arts and culture, and community facilities. The plan is a model for how a neighborhood can shape its future development and play its part in a rapidly growing DC while retaining authentic character and values.

Since its adoption, the Southwest Neighborhood Plan is being consulted in Zoning Commission cases and will be integrated into the District’s 20-year Comprehensive Plan as part of the amendment process OP launched earlier this year.

The APA-NCAC awards ceremony was held on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Lang Theatre (1333 H St. NE, Washington, DC) from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The Southwest Neighborhood Plan is available at OP’s website: planning.dc.gov.

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