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Franklin Square renovations could get underway this fall

Curbed logo Curbed 9/11/2019 Andrew Giambrone
a man sitting on a park bench: Franklin Square © The Washington Post/Getty Images Franklin Square

The roughly 5-acre, two-century-old Franklin Square Park in downtown D.C. is poised to see major updates by the end of 2020 thanks to a partnership between the District, the National Park Service, and the Downtown Business Improvement District. The city’s general services department on Wednesday released a solicitation for contractors who could perform the $13 million project, including permit and design work. Construction is slated to kick off this fall.

The project follows the passage of a federal law earlier this year that enables the Park Service and D.C. to enter into cooperative management agreements to maintain U.S.-owned parks in the city. Franklin Square is the subject of the first such agreement ever. The solicitation says:

“The Project’s scope of work ... generally includes restoring and replacing the tree canopy, restoring the soil and curbing rodent infestations, significant regrading and relocation of paths, rain-gardens for on-site surface storm-water-management, restoration of the central flag-stone plaza with a redesigned interactive fountain, restoration and augmentation of historic light-fixtures, benches and fencing, creation of a new “children’s garden” informal play area, and a Cafe-Pavilion, deck and plaza, located at the southern edge of the site. Scope of the project includes utilities, streetscapes and sidewalks continuous with the park-block beyond the parcel property.”

Bids are due October 9 and a pre-proposal conference is scheduled for September 16 (the location is TBD). Substantial completion on the project is expected by December 15, 2020. The park was “established at the site of a spring that provided potable water to the White House,” per the request for proposals. It was also the site of a Civil War encampment, the inaugural light-signal transmission by Alexander Graham Bell, and D.C.’s first Emancipation Day celebration, which marks the end of slavery in the District in 1862. The park is bounded by K, I, 13, and 14th streets NW and features a central fountain that the project will refurbish.

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