In honor of the annual college basketball tournament, we have decided to do one of our own. But rather than basketball, readers like you will vote for the most awful parking crater in the Washington region.
A parking crater refers to the dead space in the urban fabric caused by the footprint of its parking infrastructure. They disrupt the connectivity and walkability of an area, and induce automobile congestion. The worst offenders sit on prime developable land, blighting the surrounding areas and wasting valuable real estate.
We put together a local homage to Streetsblog's annual “Parking Madness” tournament, which you should also check out. Instead of parking craters from all around the country, we have selected 16 that are entirely within the confines of the Capital Beltway. While Streetsblog will be looking at the most improved parking craters this year, we will be voting on which one is the worst.
Today we will vote on half of the first round, with eight parking craters from DC and Virginia:
The US Capitol Complex is literally the center of the region. It is the legislative seat of government, and one of the largest employers. But despite sitting between Union Station and Capitol South Metro stations, acres upon acres of what might have been some of the most valuable urban real estate in America serve little purpose beyond storing Hill staffers' private automobiles. This parking crater was featured last year in Streetsblog's Parking Madness 2018.
The Pentagon, combined with Arlington National Cemetery and Fort Myer, splits Arlington County into two distinct areas. The area is littered with freeway infrastructure, further cutting off the headquarters of the Department of Defense and its massive parking lots off from both north and south Arlington. The acreage of the Pentagon’s lots exceeds that of any parking complex in DC or Arlington, which is notable because it sits directly atop a dedicated Metro station with one of the largest bus depots in Northern Virginia on the site.
The RFK Stadium site is rife with controversy. Will an NFL team relocate to the site? Will the federal government allow DC to develop it as it sees fit? Will most of the lots sit fallow for several more decades? Though a large chunk of the lot is already under construction for a new recreational complex, the fate of the rest of the site, including RFK Stadium, remains to unfold.
Navy Yard is the bottom seed here because its parking footprint has been drastically shrinking over the past decade. The remaining lots mostly serve Nationals Park on its 81 game days per year. Despite considerable ongoing development since the opening of the park, there still remains a large concentration of non-government land devoted to surface parking lots.
Annandale is renowned for its concentration of Asian cuisine, but be prepared to hop into a car to get there, and then to get around the area. The huge glut of parking makes it one unpleasant pedestrian environment. Even though urban development has been working its way down Columbia Pike, there is still a long way to go before that wave reaches Annandale.
The future site of a Metro station and MetroWay BRT, Potomac Yard is due for a massive redevelopment that will hopefully transform a big box strip mall into a neighborhood that ties together Old Town and Crystal City. Amazon's incoming headquarters will be nearby, necessitating a major overhaul of the area. But for now, Black Friday-level parking dominates the site.
This commercial corridor's primary attraction is the Eden Center, a bustling group of Vietnamese marketplaces and restaurants. But if you want to experience the bliss of some of the area's best pho, you'll find quite a bit of difficulty if you attempt to reach the culinary promised land via any manner other than automobile.
A few miles up Columbia Pike, a freeway-style interchange at Leesburg Pike has given way to another massive collection of surface parking for strip malls. Despite the area's proximity to the growing urban corridor of central Arlington and its more centralized location, Bailey's Crossroads has the look and feel of Annandale or Seven Corners, minus the amazing Asian food. If and when revitalization comes to lower Columbia Pike, Bailey's Crossroads' future will be tied to Seven Corners, but it's likely to get the walkable urbanism treatment first.
Parking madness will continue Friday when we vote on the other half of the first round teams, most of which are in Maryland.