Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton saw her bill turn into the grand opening of The Wharf, a sprawling and vibrant mile-long strip along D.C.’s Southwest Waterfront.
“With the opening of this site, D.C. is becoming a true waterfront community,” she said Thursday at the opening ceremony, attended by hundreds of Washingtonians, including Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen and The Wharf’s managing director, Monty Hoffman.
“What they have done ... makes pale what I had to do to get this bill out of Congress,” she said. “Actually I had to have two bills. The only thing more torturous than getting one bill through Congress is getting two bills through Congress.”
Norton introduced the two bills in 2011 to begin construction. One clarified D.C.’s ownership of the property and removed use restrictions on it, and the other redesignated the stretch of the Washington Channel that it fronts to allow more boating and water activity. The two bills were combined and signed into law in July 2012.
“Nothing can stop us now except the rain,” she said Thursday, as rain started to come down on the audience.
“We want to thank you for getting this land for us,” Bowser said at the ceremony.
The construction of the first phase of the project, which opened Thursday, took 42 months.
“If this is Phase One, imagine what this site is going to look like when it is finished,” Norton said. “It looks virtually finished now.”
It’s made up of hotels, restaurants, a concert venue, retail shops and housing, one-fourth of it affordable housing, Bowser said.
“When we think about the tenants, both commercial and retail, that come here, we know they will bring a diversity of options. When we think about all the wonderful residents that are moving here, we know they will bring life,” the mayor added.
The Wharf also created 6,000 permanent jobs in D.C.
“Everybody’s here, who’s running the city right now?” Hoffman joked. Former D.C. mayors Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray were also in attendance.
Allen called the Southwest Waterfront “this little quadrant that could.” “This is a great neighborhood, the secret is out,” he added.
Since the secret is out, here are some must-see attractions:
- The Anthem is a 6,000-person concert venue run by the team behind the 9:30 Club.
- Cordial is a craft beer, wine and liquor store.
- Politics and Prose is another branch of the independent bookstore and coffeehouse.
- The Martha Spak Gallery at the Wharf is a gallery for D.C.-area artists.
- Paddleboarding, kayaking, and sailing will be available in the summer. An ice skating rink will open in the winter.
- Upscale restaurants include Hank’s Oyster Bar for seafood and Jenny’s at The Wharf for Asian cuisine. Florentijn features a Belgian menu, while Del Mar de Fabio Trabocchi serves up Spanish food.
- Other restaurants include a new Shake Shack and Taylor Gourmet, as well as a Ben & Jerry’s.
- Upscale hotels include an InterContinental, Hyatt and Hilton.