Remembering the industrial past of riverfronts, a discussion panel of planning professionals, gathered at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. in June to discuss building along rivers, brought up the salient question: "Is the waterfront a back door or a front door?"
With a focus on recreational development along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, the panel concluded that riverfronts are important to both commerce and recreational activity.
Part of the discussion focused on the bureaucratic hurdles that must be jumped in order to implement any significant change for which there is great demand, such as non-motorized recreational boating on the D.C. waterfront. The discussion also meandered to the river as a "double-edged sword," both helping and hindering development with the potential for flooding, particularly in Prince George's County, home to the infamous "rain tax" on impervious surfaces.
The Yards, a new park on the Potomac in Georgetown, has become very popular with the public, an example of the riverfront being used as front door, above the flood zone, of course.