Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bolling Air Force Waste

Neil at GGW had a great article about the proposal to narrow the Anacostia River (dubbed the McMillian Two Plan) and bring a bit of Paris to eastern DC. If it works and can be done with environmental prudence, I am absolutely in love with the idea. It strengthens the urban fabric of the city, it extends the grid to an underdeveloped but historic part of the city, and it creates more monumental space in the city.

But my favorite part? The plan appears to redevelop the northern part of Bolling Air Force Base. Bolling AFB is an abominable waste of valuable riverfront real estate. Some might argue that the Nation's Capital ought to play host to military facilities. As a former soldier, this is a no-brainer. Of course it should. But DoD property within the District ought to use the space in a manner that is congruent with the rest of the city. Across the Anacostia River, Fort McNair interacts with its urban environment productively and in keeping with the other infrastructure surrounding it. Bolling AFB looks like it could have been built on an empty greenfield an hours drive from the city:

View Larger Map

Does an Air Force base (especially one without an active air strip since 1962) need to take up this much land? Does the utterly suburban housing stock need to sit atop land above one of the most iconic rivers in the world? I'm sure this is no problem at Minot AFB in North Dakota, but the District of Columbia has only 68 square miles. Should almost 5% of it be devoted to isolated, wasteful suburban style land use? Perhaps its time to consolidate Bolling's facilities into something that works better with the city surrounding it, and redevelop Southwest's Potomac waterfront in a manner more suited to its urban environment.


Froggie said...

Call me biased (since I do most of my grocery shopping at the Bolling Commissary), but I like it mostly the way it is. One other thing you left out of your post is that embedded within Bolling and along the river is a Coast Guard station which would have to be moved or built around in your "develop Bolling" scenario.

IMGoph said...

it's all well and good that you like it the way it is, froggie, but doesn't dave's point stand that, for the good of the city (given the inherent value of riverfront property), it would make sense to develop at least some of this land for non-military use?