After two years of internal debate among 17 different federal agencies and the Washington, D.C., government, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) released its long-awaited plans for a new Southwest Eco-District this week. The plan is designed to undo the worst damage of the massive “urban renewal” projects inflicted on L’Enfant neighborhood over the past decades. When it is completed, still decades out, it will transform the spooky, almost pedestrian-free area just south of the National Mall into a highly sustainable, people-friendly cultural and business destination.

The project will go a long way toward “breathing new life into the city,” NCPC Chair L. Preston Bryant, Jr. said at a hearing Thursday. “We have a once in a generation opportunity to make this happen.”

The 110-acre, 15 square-block project is meant to showcase “high performance buildings and landscapes,” while creating space for 19,000 new federal workers, says Elizabeth Miller, the landscape architect who is guiding the project. At the same time, the plan will take aim at the incredible lack of public access — the barriers, the highways, and grade changes — that keep people away.