Pavilion Opens on East Campus of St. Elizabeths
As Mayor Vincent Gray arrived at the ribbon cutting of the 400-foot long St. Elizabeths Pavilion, christened Gateway DC last month, a cluster of city officials and bureaucrats, architects, members of the press corps and community residents greeted him as he worked his way through the crowd. Only one person was conspicuously wearing a tiara; ANC 8C 03 Mary Cuthbert, who was also holding a placard proclaiming the Pavilion “Cuthbert’s Castle.”
"This is a great day for Congress Heights," Cuthbert, Chairman of ANC 8C, said. “It's been twelve years in getting the St. Elizabeths East Campus zoned and it’s been 60 years since anything new has been built here.” With the new structure, Cuthbert and city officials are optimistic that the adjacent faded stretch of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue will be revitalized as thousands of federal employees begin settling into the new headquarters of the United States Coast Guard. Also, in coming years the West Campus of Saint Elizabeths will begin to house employees of the Department of Homeland Security. To access the Pavilion, a tunnel beneath MLK Jr. Avenue has been opened that will link the East and West campuses every day from 10 am to 2 pm. During Mayor Gray’s remarks he endorsed a possible expansion of the Congress Heights Metro station, which currently has a single exit with less than a half-dozen faregates.
“We had something to prove with this project and I sure hoped we proved it to everybody,” said Catherine Buell, a resident of Historic Anacostia and Executive Director of St. Elizabeths East within the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development. “We had 28 days of rain this summer and we still met a 90-day construction schedule.”
After acknowledging various partnerships between and within city agencies that collaborated to complete the Pavilion and establish its many amenities, such as a free Wi-Fi hotspot provided by the Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Buell said, “Most importantly we have had the support of an amazing community, a community who advocates for us, who supports us and challenges us. This would not be possible without the Ward 8 community.”
With banners hanging on street lights of the East Campus proclaiming “Future of Technology,” residents like Cuthbert are optimistic the neighborhood will see change for the better. “We’re getting some quality new development,” Cuthbert said. “It’s important we begin to get retail to come back after 30 or 40 years. We want a diversity of stores, quality stores, no dollar store.”
Features of the Pavilion
Constructed in a matter of months, the Pavilion offers features that have the potential to make it a destination for residents the city’s “East End,” a term regularly used by city officials during the ribbon cutting ceremonies and communities in Maryland, just over Southern Avenue.
The ground level offers more than 16,000 square feet of open air market space of custom wooden flexible kiosk seating and vending space complimented by an enclosed, climate-controlled space of more than 3,000 square feet. Just yards from the planned market space is a curb-side design planned to accommodate mobile vendors such as food trucks.
The roof-top amphitheater, which provides panoramic views of the East and West campuses, covers more than 20,000 square feet and has capacity for concerts, festivals and other gatherings of more than one thousand people, according to materials distributed by the city.
A Sunday Food Market (SFM), a pop-up food market, is planned to occur on the first Sunday of each month through March; December 1, 2013, January 5, 2014, February 2, 2014 and March 2, 2014. The SFM is planned to feature up to five stalls of local food vendors providing samples and dining options. Vending stalls will be rented to qualified businesses for a rate of $1.00 per market. According to information available online, 200 guests are anticipated to attend each Sunday pop-up.
Vendor information and applications can be accessed online at www.gatewaydc.com