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10 big ideas for D.C. now and in 2015

D.C., it’s been a crazy year. 

We’ve seen a bazillion cranes putting up a bazillion buildings in the city. We’ve watched a heated mayoral election and citizens overwhelmingly vote to legalize you-know-what. Some transit projects have opened to great fanfare, others we’re still waiting on. We saw yet more delays on the city’s long-overdue zoning code update, which will (eventually) allow for a more livable, walkable city.

As Elevation DC wraps up its second year we wanted to take not just a look back, at our top stories from 2014, but a look forward, to what might come next.

So without further ado, here are 10 big ideas for D.C. for 2015.

The 11th Street Bridge Park

This year, this project, which folks are calling “D.C’s High Line” for its reuse of old infrastructure just like the original High Line in NYC, went from “cool idea” to “holy crap, this thing is actually happening.” The nonprofit working to make it happen raised funds for a design competition, received submissions from architects all over the globe, and chose OMA and Olin Studio’s concept. A long road remains—they still have to raise about $40 million to make the park a reality—but this year it suddenly seems like a possibility.

The 11th Street Bridge Park has the potential to bring people together in the name of health. 

April 1, 2014: "D.C.'s High Line" could transform banks of the Anacostia


As we run out of space to build more and more housing, and since we can’t build higher like other cities, alleys—even though D.C.’s zoning code makes using them difficult—are going to become even more popular. Think alley dwellings and more cool alley businesses.

Cities nationwide are making their formerly neglected alleys into assets, and some developers in D.C. are trying to do the same. 

April 22, 2014: National spotlight: Alleyways become pathways to urban revitalization

Art, everywhere

While not a new idea, the power public art has to transform a block or a neighborhood is undisputed. We hope to see D.C. leverage art in neighborhoods all over the city to add visual interest to drab blocks and spur community and economic development.

May 20, 2014: A guide to DC’s newest murals


This year, the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) released its MoveDC action plan that will greatly expand transportation options, introduce congestion pricing for cars, and more by 2040. In the just next two years, the city plans to add 15 new miles of bike lanes and expand its trails. On the more casual side of biking, Capital Bikeshare had a rough year, with bikeshare equipment manufacturer Bixi declaring bankruptcy, slowing down the bikeshare company’s expansion plans. But even with that hiccup the system expanded to 344 stations, and DDOT says it hopes that by spring 2015 they’ll be able to add another 40 stations to that total.

January 21, 2014: Black Thumbs Collective keeps cyclists east of the river in gear
April 22, 2014: Everything you've always wanted to know about bikeshare (but were afraid to ask)

Congress Heights and St. Elizabeths

D.C. is choosing from between five different teams’ plans to redevelop 1.6 million square feet of the historic St. Elizabeths East campus into a mixed-income community, with a decision expected soon. You owe it to yourself to visit.

October 7, 2014: The incredible evolution of Congress Heights


The startup community will continue to be a force in this city still stereotyped as “only” an employer for government types and policy wonks. But with hundreds of people attending each DC Tech meetup and startups setting up shop in just about every neighborhood of the city, it’s impossible to ignore the DC Tech community. And with outgoing Mayor Vince Gray’s designation of much of 7th St NW and Georgia Ave as a tech corridor, expect to see tech start to transform the cityscape in 2015.

If you need a job (whether you’re a developer or not), you’ll want to follow our biweekly roundup of who’s hiring in D.C. And if you’re a startup looking for flexible office space, don’t miss our guide to D.C.’s coworking spots. 

March 4, 2014: The top ten D.C. startups of all time
March 11, 2014: An updated guide to coworking in D.C.

New downtowns outside of downtown

Downtown D.C. will always be downtown D.C., but the city is changing. Neighborhoods that for years were lacking in retail seeing their “main streets” wake up from a decades-long slumber (see: Kennedy St NW, Rhode Island Ave NW, historic Anacostia). And urban design can have an impact not just on, say, how much money residents spend in their own neighborhoods but on a whole host of things, including public health.

August 12, 2014: How a 'Downtown Ward 7' would grow more than a healthy economy

The Silver Line

The Silver Line has already begun to remake Tysons and NoVa, with new apartments springing up near the new Metro stops and businesses seeing an influx—albeit modest—of new customers. But the new Metro line is still but six months old; if ridership continues to grow in line with or ahead of Metro’s predictions, it has the potential to change so much more.

October 14, 2014: How the Silver Line may already be remaking Tysons

The streetcar

‘Nuff said. 

April 1, 2014: From Union Station to Benning Road, the streetcar means business

Urban farming

Brightfarms and Up Top Acres both hope to open commercial-scale urban farms in the District next year. If they succeed (and with so many folks in D.C. preaching the locavore movement, this should be hard to screw up) they’ll change the way many of us get our food. They’re not the only ones farming in D.C., of course, with lots of smaller-scale farmers hoping to kickstart our food system. 

July 22, 2014: Meet DC's urban farmers growing food and profit

So that's it. That's 2014 in a nutshell and a look into the crystal ball for 2015. Do you have your own predictions? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter, and happy 2014!
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