Hundreds of the US Navy’s ship models, guns and artifacts will soon have a larger and more accessible home.
US Navy is establishing plans for the construction of a new museum outside the confines of the Washington Navy Yard –and they’re doing it through an interest mechanism: a land exchange.
The Navy is hosting two virtual public meetings this month to receive public opinion on the draft Enivironmental Impact Statement (EIS) associated with the acquisition.
The Proposed Site
The Navy is seeking approximately six acres of land immediately outside the Tingey Gate at the Washington Navy Yard for the development and to help improve the installation’s security posture.
The proposed development location sits adjacent to the Washington Navy Yard which is a fully operational military base. The property would be purchased or acquired through a land exchange.
The new location aims to allow the museum to offer the general public “unfettered access to US Navy history and heritage.” Visitors to the current museum must pass through security.
In late October, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced the Department of the Navy’s preferred location for a new National Museum of the United States Navy. Del Toro spoke at the ceremony about the importance of maintaining these artifacts.
“The exhibits of this new museum will create a living memorial to the US Navy’s heritage of victory and valor, bringing to life the human experiences of serving at sea,” said Del Toro. “It will give all the visitors of the future museum – regardless of their previous military experience – a greater appreciation and understanding of the economic and diplomatic importance of what a strong and robust Navy means to our national and economic security.”
If a land exchange is completed, the Navy would trade access to “certain underutilized properties” within the Washington Navy Yard Southeast Corner “to obtain acquisition rights and ownership of the South East Federal Center (SEFC) E Parcels.”
The Navy would hold development rights to the approximately 6-acre SEFC E Parcels. The General Services Administration (GSA) would transfer ownership of the SEFC E Parcels to the Navy via a federal-to-federal transfer.
In exchange for acquisition rights, the Navy would transfer and/or lease underutilized assets (approximately 15 acres) of federal land to a developer, which would become developable and taxable private land that would benefit the local community. Additionally, this land would provide the opportunity for in-kind considerations from the developer, such as upgrades to the Riverwalk and Piers, which would benefit the Navy and the local community.
While the specifics of the museum’s construction are still undetermined, Naval History and Heritage Command, the lead for the development project, hopes to celebrate a significant construction milestone on the Navy’s 250th birthday, Oct. 13, 2025. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) estimates that the project could begin as early as 2023 and that construction period will last approximately 10 years.
ANC 6B Chair and Commissioner for the area Corey Holman (6B06) also spoke supportively of the project and its ability to “open and create better connections” between the surrounding residential neighborhoods and the Navy Yard. He also underscored the benefits of the addition of retail stores and green spaces for the community.
“Our ANC has had a long, long track record of supporting, and trying to support, development there,” Holman said. “Finding ways to create more reasons to be down there, rather than just [creating] surface parking lots, [as well as] having more people down there can hopefully make the experience onthe sidewalks and being around a little less hostile [and] a little less intense.”
Scott Kratz, a Capitol Hill resident and Founding Director of the 11th Street Bridge Park Project, said the development would provide the community not only with historic preservation, but also economic benefits.
“I think the Navy museum will be one more phenomenal destination, bringing residents both here in the District of Columbia, from the DMV and from the nation and world, to experience the our neighborhood,” Kratz said. “The Anacostia River in the booming area of the name of the Capitol Riverfront, Capitol Hill and Barracks Row. I think this can be a huge economic generator.”
Kratz said he has heard “heard nothing but positive comments” about the proposed project, and expressed excitement about the potential for what the project could bring to the community.
“If the land swap goes through the Navy would get this northwestern corner of the Navy Yard in exchange for working with developers to create a carve out a new development with mixed use retail, apartments and new green spaces,” Kratz said.
The Navy will host two virtual public meetings this month to receive public opinion on the draft EIS. You can read a draft of the EIS here. These public meetings will be held on Tuesday Nov. 15 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesday Nov. 16 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Community members can also submit commentary via email to (NAVFACWashNEPA1@navy.mil) or by mail, postmarked by December 2, to Naval Facilities Engineering Command Washington at 1314 Harwood St SE Washington, DC 20374.
You can learn more about these public meetings and register to attend here.
Visiting the Current Museum
The announcement is followed by several changes to the current museum buildings located within the Navy Yard. On Nov. 7, the Cold War Gallery closed to visitors to facilitate the removal of artifacts and exhibits. On Nov. 12, the main museum building will close Monday through Friday to allow for movement of artifacts and exhibits. It will remain open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The museum will continue to engage with the community through educational programming in person, virtually and in collaboration with community partners in offsite venues such as schools, community centers, assisted living facilities, libraries and other public venues. The museum will also be available for special events for Department of Navy organizations and Honor Flights.
Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.