Taking Back Highway Airspace: It's Happening

Building over highways is not a particularly new idea, but it has been a rare novelty. Former SPUR director and development consultant Jim Chappell sees a brighter future for highway caps parks and projects.

2 minute read

May 6, 2017, 7:00 AM PDT

By wadams92101

Klyde Warren Park

kan_khampanya / Shutterstock

With the price of urban real estate going up and up, highway airspace development becomes more viable. There are numerous projects around the country, both past and future. SPUR's former director, now a consultant, reviews a few and sees a promising future for developing in airspace over freeways and highways. He notes:

. . . there are currently 20 other parks over or replacing highways in the US and at least another 26 in some stage of proposal.

Chappell notes that while existing caps are parks or convention centers, that's changing: 

In the District of Columbia, Property Group Partners are building a 7.5 acre, $1.3 billion project with five-130 foot high, mixed use commercial, office and residential buildings, totaling 2.2 million leasable square feet. All of this, plus 1.5 acres of open space, over the 3-block long, 200 foot wide, eight lane Center Leg Freeway (I-395). The lid will be completed this year, and the first building is projected to open in 2018. When complete in 2022, the project is anticipated to generate $40 million per year in property taxes alone.[4]

If $1.3 billion sounds expensive, consider Hudson Yards, two superblocks on the West side of Manhattan. Related Companies is in the midst of constructing a $25 billion 28-acre neighborhood with 18 million square feet of mixed use, all over operating rail yards. [5] $25 billion!
For more of Chappell's thoughts on the topic, please see source article at link below.

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