Stead Park’s recreation center slated for $10 million renovation

The Stead Recreation Center is located at 1625 P St. NW. (Brian Kapur/The Current/June 2014)

Stead Park’s small carriage house is slated to be transformed into a three-level recreation center with a green roof, children’s play areas and a large multipurpose space, according to plans unveiled to the Dupont Circle community on Saturday.

The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation and the friends group for the 1625 P St. NW park presented the plans at the first of several upcoming community meetings to discuss the $10 million project.

Originally scheduled to be constructed over a three-year period, the project instead won full funding in the 2019 fiscal year, after park advocates successfully lobbied the D.C. Council for expedited funds.

“We went back to the city council and told the mayor that if we promised we could be ready with the plans, could we get the money to build the center in one year,” said Kishan Putta, vice president of Friends of Stead Park. “So now it’s just a bit of pressure to get it ready in time, and this is the first step.”

Project architect Outerbridge Horsey presented the outline of the new recreation center at Saturday’s meeting, and urged residents to offer their opinions on what amenities they would like to see in the project.

Horsey’s design includes a two-story, split-level building with a large multipurpose space on the first floor. Horsey hopes the first floor will also include a “wall of history” with an interactive dashboard so that visitors can learn more about the history of the park and surrounding neighborhood. The second floor is set to feature three 20-by-30-foot rooms with flexible uses. A basement is also envisioned, although it could be removed based on popular opinion.

The building would be capped by a green roof that could be used by local schools as an agricultural teaching mechanism. Other environmental features are also under consideration.

“D.C. is one of the greenest cities in the country,” Horsey said. “So we have a few sustainable goals in mind, including net zero energy, meaning we don’t consume more energy on site than we produce on site.”

The community’s need for an affordable child care program was one of the major factors pushing the project, according to Putta.

“Back in 2014, we had over 100 parents sign a petition saying they wanted an affordable child care program offered at the park,” Putta said. “But the government said the building wasn’t safe enough, which is one of the reasons for redesign.”

Putta said has made it a personal priority to ensure that a safe program for toddlers is offered at the rebuilt Stead center.

Many children and families also offered input on the redesign of the adjacent playground. The options given were equipment sets that were tall rather than wide, to conserve space for the expanded rec center.

A few community members expressed concern that the renovation would include too many amenities for children and not enough for adults, but others said they would like to see the inclusion of more indoor play areas.

Kari Cunningham, president of the Friends of Stead Park, was pleased with the volume of comments coming from residents on what they would like to see in their park.

“Our purpose is to get community feedback from everyone, and really help try to corral the community around the vision,” Cunningham said. “Between now and the next meeting, we will produce an outline of what transpired and distribute a survey.”

A date for the next community meeting has not yet been finalized, but it is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 23 at Foundry United Methodist Church, 1500 16th St. NW. For more information, visit

This post has been updated to correct the fiscal year in which the project will begin.