|LOVE Park Redesign|
The Planning Commission is very much aware of this. Indeed, in the Central District Plan, the Commission recommended several small-scale fixes for the plaza. As This Old City noted some time ago, these proposals amount to a small-scale fix filling the plaza's edge with pavilions instead of large granite retaining walls. These pavilions would have rooftop plaza space, providing a unique park feature as well.
|Possible vision for Reyburn|
|Infrastructure under Reyburn Plaza|
And finally, there's the Municipal Services Building itself. Half a century old, the structure is aging, hard to navigate, and poorly laid out (despite the dramatic payment spaces in the basement). Mechanicals abut 15th, which makes opening the wall facing LOVE Park difficult; much of the office space lies in a dark, underlit basement. The structure needs a top-to-bottom overhaul, and the City could well consider rightsizing the space.
Develop Reyburn Plaza
Park space is only as valuable as how well it's used. Even on good days, Reyburn is an empty, windswept, trash-strewn cartoon of a plaza with its giant Sorry pieces scattered about. Its bleak desolation sets North Broad's fourth-fiddle tone, and there are few opportunities to capture value from the blocks abutting it, given the wealth of public and nonprofit development. The city owns some juicy development parcels of its own nearby (the Gallery's three unused tower bases, Blanche Levy Park at 16th and the Parkway, and the parking lots at 13th and Arch and 15th and Cherry) to put a new, better-designed MSB on -- if not an outright long-term lease. Sale of Reyburn Park's land would offer a cash stream for this. And it's not like this is the only park in the area: indeed, it's one of three in addition to sitting at the foot of the Parkway in its own right.
A Program For Development
The sketch above shows a proposed program of development. The MSB (in red) would be retained, but subject to a gut reno like Southwest DC's Sky House was. Once the EPA's offices, Sky House is today a large condo building. Kling's lobby and cashiering spaces would be maintained, but the building's mechanicals would be moved to where the basement office floor today lies; this frees up the Kling spaces, as well as the spaces facing 15th, for active ground-floor uses.
Above that, on the deck, an al fresco dining area would be established overlooking LOVE Park. This could be treated like the cafe in the Comcast Center plaza -- or like the Independence Beer Garden at the base of the former Rohm & Haas building. A pavilion, bus shelter, and small headhouse would be established at the corner of 15th and JFK.
Ten North Broad would extend along the Broad Street side. A large mixed-use structure, Ten North Broad would share loading and mechanicals facilities with the new MSB; its main mass would lie along the Broad Street side, while its load would be diffused on either side of the subway tunnel. The elevator core would lie in its southeast corner.
Finally, the plaza would be split into two smaller components: first, at the corner of 15th and JFK, it would preserve the Parkway viewshed; second, an interior plaza between the two buildings would provide an amenity space for the project's residential component.
Reyburn Plaza is obsolete, outmoded, and underutilized. It's not a public amenity anymore. It's time to return it to private hands.