It’s election season and we’re not going anywhere near political discussions. But, we are here to talk about eminent domain in our nation’s capital. To the best of our recollection, we have not approached eminent domain in DC yet! If you are fans of the Wendy’s chain (some of us like their salads, amongst other things, LOL) then this might be extra exciting for you.
Perhaps you may have noticed the “Dave Thomas Circle” on one of your field trips to Washington, D.C. That specific spot is where Florida Avenue, New York Avenue, Eckington Place, O Street, and First Street NE all converge. It’s known to be a dangerous spot based on the traffic congestion and chaos that is often in high gear, making it especially hazardous for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. As you may expect from the name of the Circle, there is a Wendy’s restaurant smack in the middle of it all-named after the founder of the fast food chain.
The eminent domain news is that there is a proposal for a new landscaped public spaces and roadway change which involves realigning First Street NE to connect with Eckington Place, making Florida Avenue two-way through the area. The overall concept for the new landscaped public spaces that will emerge when those roadways are finally realigned will be free of fast food and perhaps some traffic. It is planned to include a host of bike lane infrastructure and crosswalks. The plans are currently with the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.
The team behind the plan includes landscape architects SWA/Balsley and ParkerRodriguez Inc., Jean Efron Art Consultants LLC, CM Kling & Associates Inc. lighting designers and the NoMa Parks Foundation.
The illustrative concept provides for three main public spaces — one adjacent to the Peoples Building at 64 New York Ave. NE, one essentially where the Wendy’s stands now, and a third on the south side of New York Avenue adjacent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives headquarters.
The goal, per the CFA submission, is: to create a “visually compelling sense of arrival into the heart” of D.C., improve safety for all users and drastically upgrade the public spaces.
So, we are happy to hear that each part of the space will be serving a different purpose. The first, at 64 New York, would feature a multifunction lawn, viewing steps and seat wall. The Wendy’s, which sits on an 18,347-square-foot triangular parcel, would be replaced with an “iconic sculpture” and tree grove. (Iconic sculpture of a girl with braids? We shall see!) The southern site would include a play sculpture, game tables and a garden.
Still waiting for the eminent domain part? Here you go! D.C.’s fiscal 2021 budget includes $35 million for the District to acquire the Wendy’s property. Whether through a straight purchase or, if necessary, eminent domain, in addition to design and construction. The Wendy's property has an assessed value of roughly $8 million for 2021, 92% of which is in the land. Intersection work isn’t expected to get started until late next year.
We will keep you posted while we snack on salads, fries, and a burger!