Southwest Waterfront Then and Now

southwest waterfront washington dc

While the Southwest Waterfront of today is regarded as an emerging world-class waterfront, soon to be filled with a blend of stunning outdoor space, sophisticated nightlife and teeming with cultural attractions, the waterfront of yesteryear was known for a much different reason.

Housing some of the city’s oldest buildings, including townhouses dating back to the late 1700s and the US Army post of Fort McNair, the end of the Civil War led to a more diverse neighborhood of lower-income homes, mixed in with a smaller selection of large homes and thriving commercial businesses. By the 1950s city planners came up with a somewhat controversial plan of urban renewal, razing many of the old buildings, eventually bringing in modern architecture including high-rises and townhomes to the area.

In recent years several neighborhood apartment buildings have undergone renovations as new condominiums have been added to the area. As well, the Washington Nationals moved to a newly constructed baseball stadium not far away, setting the stage for even more retail, commercial and residential development.

2014 brought perhaps one of the largest development plans to the Southwest Waterfront, though, with emerging construction of the Wharf. This massive plan includes a full 24-acres of land and 50-acres of water, soon to include a whopping three million square feet of public use space, retail, hotel, office space, residential and cultural attractions.

The first phase of The Wharf is set to open to the public in fall of 2017, although there are several different aspects of the overall development expected to entice area residents and visitors alike. Altogether these are being marketed as someday collectively becoming known as the hottest location in the DC area, filled with live jazz, waterfront dining and entertainment, people watching and more. In addition, The Wharf is set to include space for kayaking and paddle boarding, plus luxury hotels and upscale condominiums.

As diverse as the Southwest Waterfront has been through the years, the most recent goal is to transform the area into a highly sought after location for living, dining, shopping, entertainment and recreation for generations to come in the DC area.

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