Tuesday, October 17, 2017

District Wharf is Here!

A large countdown clock finally reached zero on Thursday, which marked the date when the first phase of District Wharf would open to the public. It was a cool and misty morning which greeted those who came to witness the grand opening event. Hundreds of people packed District Pier to watch the opening festivities and many more lined the Wharf Street promenade. Representatives from the development team, city officials, and DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton gave remarks about the amount of time and effort needed to bring the project to fruition, as well as the impact District Wharf will have on the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood and city. Noticeably absent was ANC 6D Chair Andy Litsky, who was in the hospital and had to miss the event. After the bands played, choirs sang, and speeches given, a daytime fireworks show marked the ending of the grand opening ceremony. 

The opening ceremony event was just the beginning of a four-day celebration, which included a multitude of free concerts, fireworks, street performers, a sold-out opening night concert by The Foo Fighters at The Anthem, and many other activities. While many of the restaurants planned in the first phase have not yet opened, several new businesses made their debut over the four-day celebration. A large fountain greets visitors who arrive at District Square from the parking garage below and the space includes a concentration of retailers that were open for business, such as Politics and Prose, Blink Optical, Ligne Roset, and Martha Spak Gallery. The standalone building within District Square contains Requin, a Mike Isabella restaurant that was opened temporarily for opening weekend. It closed after opening weekend to finish construction of the space and train workers before reopening later this month. 

Wharf Street is made for strolling and will definitely become a place to go on date night. There are separate zones for cafĂ© seating, limited mixed traffic, and a pedestrian promenade. Cobblestone pavers give the promenade a look of permanence and makes it look like it’s been there for decades. Kiosks along the promenade contain businesses, such as Florentjin Wafelhuis and Red Hook Lobster Pound.

Pearl Street is a located off of Wharf Street and contains smaller live music venues including Pearl Street Warehouse and Union Stage - the former is open but Union Stage still needs some time before it makes its debut. 

While Wharf Street is restaurant-heavy, the retailers along Maine Avenue are more geared towards convenience. District Hardware and Bike and CVS are the larger retailers along Maine Avenue. A separate bike lane has been created closer to the roadway and is separated from the sidewalk by a row of street trees.

District Pier is the largest pier at the project and was used as a stage during the opening celebration, but it also has a dockmaster building at the far end of it, which will direct traffic in the Washington Channel. Visiting tall ships can also dock alongside the pier.

Transit Pier is where visitors can catch a water taxi to Georgetown or Alexandria. Future service will include National Harbor and Navy Yard. A new fleet of yellow water taxis were designed to move faster in the water but not cause waves since most of the waters along the Washington Channel and the Potomac River are no-wake zones. Free rides were given on Thursday, but the normal water taxi fare is $12 one way or $20 round trip. Cantina Bambina, which is a mini version of Cantina Marina with limited food service, is also located on Transit Pier. 

Market Pier is adjacent to the Municipal Fish Market (construction on the land side of the fish market is ongoing and should be completed by June 2018). This pier will be used by those that can tie in their vessels temporarily while visiting District Wharf. 

Meanwhile, the recreation pier at the end of 7th Street is a long, curvy space that allows users to launch a kayak or take a free water taxi jitney to East Potomac Park on the lower level. The upper portion of the pier includes swings large enough for adults to use and at the far end, a bonfire sculpture with seating awaits.

Next to Recreation Pier on the land side is 7th Street Park, a more formal oval-shaped open space, but has an interactive water feature close to Wharf Street which was popular with the kids on opening day.

Future posts will go into more detail on the individual spaces once I’m able to get back and get photos when there is better weather and not tens of thousands of people around (maybe the crowds won’t subside anytime soon). If you haven’t been to District Wharf yet, I highly recommend you go check it out!

1 comment:

Mike said...

Very nice article SWill. Last weekend I went to the Wharf for two extended periods. I looked specifically for one thing in particular -- KIDS!

I am happy to report that there were kids everywhere and families! I am even happier to report that the kids were having an absolute blast.

A Hat Tip to the Wharf designers who made sure that kids would have fun on our new waterfront.