(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrated the grand reopening of Franklin Park in downtown DC. The renovation of the park is the culmination of a partnership shaped in 2012 between DC Government, the National Park Service, and the Downtown DC Business Improvement District. The project was made possible by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton’s 2019 bill to authorize the Mayor of Washington, DC and the Director of NPS to enter into cooperative management agreements for the operation, maintenance, and management of NPS-owned properties in DC.
“We knew that if DC Government could renovate Franklin Park, we would be able to turn this park into something special for residents, visitors, and workers. And that is what we’ve done,” said Mayor Bowser. “The new Franklin Park is its own destination – a place for residents and visitors to enjoy and for workers to retreat to. This is the type of park you would expect to find downtown in our nation’s capital, and I want to thank Congresswoman Norton and our partners at the National Park Service and the DowntownDC Bid for making this possible. DC is open and now so too is Franklin Park.”
Franklin Park occupies nearly five acres of land and is the second largest NPS-owned park in downtown DC. The park has been in continuous operation as a public park since the 1850s and despite renovations over the years, the park had fallen into disrepair, with cracked walkways, lack of ADA accessibility, and lack of public amenities with no coordinated events or programming. After a $21 million, District-funded renovation, the new Franklin Park includes a restaurant and pavilion, an expanded and restored fountain plaza, and a new children’s garden. Among the upgrades to the park, visitors will be able to enjoy ADA accessible sidewalks, a rich and diversified tree canopy, enhanced lighting, conversational and flexible seating, and active, flexible, and engaging green space.
“I’m thrilled to see the new and improved Franklin Park reopening at last,” Norton said. “In 2019, my bill clarifying that D.C. and the National Park Service have the authority to enter into cooperative management agreements to invest in, maintain, and operate NPS land here was signed into law, allowing this project to go forward. We are fortunate that Congress created so many parks in the District, but because it never adequately funded them, D.C. stepped in to work with NPS and the DowntownDC BID to upgrade Franklin Park, adding a restaurant and pavilion, to enable the park to continue to serve D.C. residents and provide a safe space for the community.”
“The remarkable transformation of Franklin Park is a tribute to the hard work and passion of our partners with the District of Columbia and the Downtown BID,” said Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks. “This collaboration highlights the role the National Park Service can play in connecting visitors and residents alike to parks and recreational space in the nation’s capital in new and creative ways.”
Operated by DowntownDC BID, the new Franklin Park will be a destination for residents, workers, and visitors in the heart of downtown and provide robust programming including outdoor concerts, meditation sessions, Qi Gong, children’s music and dance, and more. The Department of Parks and Recreation will also partner with the DowntownDC BID to provide programming in the park.
“Franklin Park is a testament to this community’s (local and Federal) ability to seize an opportunity and work together to bring lasting change to our city,” said DowntownDC BID President & CEO, Neil Albert. “Our goal from the beginning was to meet the needs of the surrounding community and strengthen the role of the park in the region. The vision was to create a dynamic and vibrant place where the community can gather, integrate and grow together and we are thrilled with the results and excited for the people to come and experience this amazing place.”
This year, Washington, DC regained its #1 spot as the top ranked park system in the country by The Trust for Public Land, in part because of the District’s efforts to ensure there is meaningful park space within a 10-minute walk of every person, in every neighborhood, in every area across all eight wards.