Thursday, November 18, 2010

More thoughts on Wal-Mart plans

First, Councilmember Muriel Bowser has released a statement:

Today, Councilmember Bowser responded to news that Walmart intends to locate a retail outlet along an important Ward 4 corridor. “I am very interested to learn more from Walmart executives about their interest in Ward 4,” said Bowser. “The intersection at Georgia and Missouri Avenues represents a huge piece of the Georgia Avenue revitalization puzzle. Any redevelopment at this highly visible, dynamic location must be done thoughtfully and with community outreach.” A previous plan to build a mixed use —housing and retail—project at the former Curtis Chevrolet site was endorsed by Bowser contingent on concessions to the community and to the site’s significance. But, a sluggish economy and a varied neighborhood reaction slowed progress. With the plan aborted, Bowser consistently urged the property owner to keep all options on the table and to move as quickly as possible to develop the property to its most productive, best use. “ It’s important that this vacant lot be put to use, sooner rather than later,” she said. “But more importantly, we have to ensure that Ward 4 residents understand and are comfortable with the effect the store will have on their neighborhoods and local businesses; that residents are informed about traffic flow and parking details, and that they are given the opportunity to learn more about the company’s labor practices,” Bowser said. “And most importantly, the company must make clear its commitment to improving the Brightwood community and all of Ward 4. We look forward to starting that conversation with the company, Ward 4 residents, and our local leaders.”/

It makes me feel a bit better to know that the Wal-Martians will be subject to community input. The news came yesterday in such a hurry that I had envisioned a big box just being plunked down on the site.

There are so many issues to take into consideration. What will be done about that horribly awkward intersection at Georgia/Missouri/Military to facilitate traffic flow? What about the car barn on the site; it's been designated as a historic structure and Foulger-Pratt's plan for its mixed-use development incorporated the car barn's facade; how will Wal-Mart deal with the car barn issue? Is the company amenable to designing a building that won't be a total eyesore?

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