Mamie “Peanut” Johnson Plaza
The well-known intersection of Florida Avenue NE and New York Avenue NE will soon be transformed to make it safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers, and improved to include an inviting trio of thoughtfully landscaped urban spaces for the community to enjoy.
The well-known intersection of Florida Avenue NE and New York Avenue NE, also known as the “Virtual Circle” or “Dave Thomas Circle,” will soon be transformed to make it safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers, and improved to include an inviting trio of thoughtfully landscaped urban spaces for the community to enjoy.
Over the past several years, the NoMa Business Improvement District (BID) and NoMa Parks Foundation (NPF) have partnered with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to pursue a new intersection design that addresses many of the confusing, unpleasant, and dangerous conditions that persist. The new intersection design will realign and add two-way traffic to First Street NE, restore two-way traffic on Florida Avenue NE, add protected bicycle lanes, and make other improvements to safety and navigation for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.
The reconfiguration of the Florida and New York Avenues NE intersection will create three new public spaces, known as Mamie “Peanut” Johnson Plaza, that will weave together neighborhoods including NoMa and Eckington, and improve cross-neighborhood connectivity. The three new public spaces will include trees, plants, planters, seat walls, space for monumental public art, and other amenities that will provide accessible, useable, and restful spaces for NoMa neighbors.
Public Space Naming
After inviting the community to help name the trio of new public spaces that will be brought to NoMa by the reconstruction of the Florida Avenue-New York Avenue NE intersection, we’re pleased to share that the winning name is Mamie “Peanut” Johnson Plaza.
The project will:
- enhance safety and comfort for visitors, residents, and daily users;
- create a visually compelling sense of arrival into the heart of NoMa and Washington DC;
- deliver more than one acre of public space that is active, healthy, and vibrant; and
- foster a strong sense of community.
Design work for this new intersection is now complete, and construction on the new public spaces began in July 2023. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.
For years, DDOT has made many adjustments to and studied major capital improvements for the intersection of Florida Ave NE, New York Ave NE, First Street NE, and Eckington Place NE. In 2019, Mayor Muriel Bowser included $35 million in the District’s capital budget to complete the reconfiguration of the Florida Avene-New York Avenue NE (FL-NY) Intersection. With the DC Council’s approval of the capital budget, the project began in earnest in September 2021 with the DC Government’s acquisition of the Wendy’s parcel that was needed to realign First Street NE for the project.
The NoMa Parks Foundation hired landscape architecture firm SWA/Balsley through an RFP process targeting firms with expertise in turning high-traffic urban spaces into welcoming community assets. NPF used its funds to pay for the public space designs and manage the design and community input processes for the new public spaces. The public provided input on the conceptual designs at a virtual public meeting in May 2020. In Summer and Fall 2020, the design for the public spaces received concept approval from the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts (CFA), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and the District of Columbia State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
For more information about the FL-NY Intersection redevelopment project including detailed presentations and recordings of meetings, please visit DDOT’s project web page.