Akridge donates $1 million for National Mall restoration

(AP, WJLA) - A major renovation is under way on the National Mall and on Monday, the project got a big financial boost.

The family foundation of a Washington developer announced a $1 million gift to help restore the National Mall's grounds and facilities.

The nonprofit Trust for the National Mall announced the gift from the Akridge Family Foundation. John "Chip" Akridge is founder and chairman of the fundraising effort for the mall.

Caroline Cunningham, president of the Trust for the National Mall, says this is the first million-dollar gift for the effort.

Akridge began working to establish the fundraising organization to support the National Mall in 2001, and it was officially launched in 2007.

The group has set a goal of raising $350 million privately for the mall. The trust will be kicking off its major fundraising campaign in May with the help of former First Lady Laura Bush. They expect millions to come from corporate America and small donors.

Construction is already underway with federal funds.

"[The National Mall] has been pounded for the last 36 years," Cunningham said. "It's like laying sod on concrete. We have to re-engineer the soil, put in a new watering system and put down new seed."

Despite its lack of a pristine appearance, the Mall was a popular destination on President's Day.