Monday, April 21, 2014

HPO Alley Survey Completed

Kim Williams and her colleagues have recently completed the DC Historic Alley Buildings Survey as a powerful foundation for invigorating the city's alleys and preserving many remaining salvageable buildings.

Kim graciously acknowledged my work at the end of the DC-Alleysurvey2014

“The HPO would also like to acknowledge Dr. David Salter who shared his vast knowledge on alley history and alley revitalization with the office and continues to send articles, blog posts, and other information on alley happenings across the country and in Canada. Dr. David Salter has his own blog, PreservingDCStables and was, until late 2013, a resident of Blagden Alley/Naylor Court. His alley research and interest in alley building preservation and revitalization has inspired this study and will continue to inform the office in its future alley studies and projects.”

Recommendations from the report.

1 Increase Visibility of Alleyways

By nature, alleyways are not readily visible and entrances into the alleyways are not easily recognized.

Name Alleys and Establish Signage
Historically, most of the city’s alleyways were named. These names were often associated with their owners, residents, or activities that took place in the alleys. Most alleys are no longer known by their names. Officially designating alleys by their names, with signage to the alleys, will increase public awareness and visibility of alleys.

Encourage Public Art
Public art on the sides of buildings along alley- ways will increase awareness of the alleyway and encourage access to the alleys.

2 Encourage Heritage Tourism of Alleys

Develop virtual tours of the city’s alleys, highlighting alley history and architecture
Develop walking and biking tours through neighborhood alleys in conjunction with preservation groups

Expand architectural survey of the city’s alleys to historic districts outside of the city limits, including Sheridan-Kalorama, Mount Pleasant, and Washington Heights. Expand survey to other, non-historic districts such as Near North- east, Bloomingdale and Petworth.

3 Develop Ideas to Re-invent Alleys

Re-examine the functional vs. cultural landscape of alleys and develop a plan to re-invent one or more of the city’s alleyways as a neighborhood amenity on a temporary or permanent basis. Other cities have engaged in such re-inventions, holding events such as the Dally in the Alley in Detroit and the Alley Palooza in Seattle.

Fair —hold an outdoor alley fair with food and live music
Film Screening—organize a film screening on a summer evening, drawing local residents and tourists into the alley

Public Art—encourage artists through grant funds to introduce artwork into a specified alley

Community Garden/Urban Farm—develop an urban garden for local residents, or restaurant owners

Playground—develop playgrounds or play areas for children

4 Engage the Planning Community

Organize an alley planning team of alley residents, planners and preservationists

Hold community workshops to field ideas for re-activating alleys

Develop an Alley Master Plan that would encourage an array of alley uses through zoning and other regulations

5 Develop Case Studies for “Re-Activating Alley(s)

One of the stated goals of the alley survey was to better know the city’s historic alleyways in order to provide guidance for their rejuvenation. To that end, the survey has identified several alleys that would be good candidates for a “Re-Activation” Case Study.

The identification of these alleyways was based on the following characteristics:

Quality and cohesiveness of historic building fabric
Potential for multi-use rehabilitation projects
Proximity of alleyway to existing commercial nodes
Accessibility and safety of alleyway

Based upon these criteria, the following alleyways are being proposed for a Case Study:

Congress Street/Oak Alley (Square 1208) The Georgetown Historic District
St. Matthew’s Court (Square 159) The Dupont Circle District
Square 242, The 14th Street Historic District
Brown’s Court (Square 514) The Shaw Historic District
Six-and-a-half-Court, NE (Square 868) The Capitol Hill Historic District

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