11th Street Bridge Park Equitable Development

Washington DC’s 11th Street Bridge Park is an idea to develop an out-of-use commuter bridge into a public park to 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. Urban Institute gave advice during the plan's creation and has undertaken a multiyear evaluation of its implementation.

The Four Equity Focus Areas

Small Business

The EDP 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.

Housing

The EDP housing strategy is 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

The 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.

Lessons Learned for Equitable Development

The multi-year evaluation of the EDP has identified key lessons about equitable development:

  1. Unify partners around common goals.
  2. Search for mutually reinforcing strategies across all goal areas.
  3. Seek to outpace rapid economic change.
  4. Deepen and track virtual engagement to beneficial activities.
  5. Develop strategies that promote power and cultural sustainability for residents of color.

Publications

Equitable Development and Urban Park Space: Year 4 Progress Report on Implementation of the Equitable Development Plan of the 11th Street Bridge Park
Mary Bogle, Mychal Cohen, Sonia Torres Rodriguez

Advancing Cultural Equity through Equitable Development
Mary Bogle, Sonia Torres Rodriguez

Building Community Power for Equity
Mychal Cohen

How DC’s Bridge Park and other stakeholders can successfully drive equitable development amid past, present, and future challenges
Mary Bogle, Somala Diby, Mychal Cohen

Equitable Development and Urban Park Space
Mary Bogle, Somala Diby, Mychal Cohen

Can a community land trust give long-term residents a foothold in a changing neighborhood?
Mychal Cohen, Peter A. Tatian

Can a new park help span the economic divide in our nation’s capital?
Mary Bogle

Equitable Development Planning and Urban Park Space: Early Insights from DC’s 11th Street Bridge Park Project
Mary Bogle, Somala Diby, Eric Burnstein