Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Questions posed by CM Bowser to Wal-Mart and Foulger-Pratt

Following is a list of questions and concerns sent yesterday by Muriel Bowser to Wal-Mart and Foulger-Pratt. The questions are good, in my opinion, and cover most of my concerns about the project. Hopefully they'll be answered tonight (as best they can, as no Wal-Mart reps will be at the meeting).

Questions posed by Councilmember Bowser

Timeline: Please discuss your vision regarding meetings with the affected communities to hear from them on design, traffic and parking issues, small business concerns, employee wages and benefits, and community amenities; and how you intend to incorporate their concerns into your design proposal.

Design: You presented a plan that included a 102,000 square foot store (nearly twice the size of our largest Safeway) on one level with Walmart as the only tenant. We think that a two-level design should be considered that would permit the storefront to be animated with small, neighborhood serving retail. We understand that other urban formats are 80,000 square feet, leaving a lot of space for a good-sized neighborhood retailer or restaurant. I understand that the Office of Planning continues to request that you explore a housing component to the site as well. What considerations have been given to potential housing at that site?

Traffic, Parking, Operational Issues: Do you have a traffic study that addresses the following: 1) Access to the underground parking garage and how it will affect the Co-Op, 2) Improvements to the intersection of Georgia and Missouri Avenues, 3) Access of tractor trailers for loading and unloading of store merchandise. We would expect that this study be available for presentation and discussion no later than December 31, 2010.

Community Outreach: It is understood that you will be scheduling meetings throughout Ward 4 as soon as possible. Further, many residents would like to go to the internet for the latest on your proposal. Posting design concepts and traffic and parking studies will help inform Ward 4 residents unable to attend community meetings. Please make presentation materials available online as soon as possible. ANC leaders will reach out to you to emphasize community group meetings that they believe are important to ensure that their constituents are fully engaged in the planning for this important site. It is being encouraged that you engage America Speaks, or a similar organization familiar with Ward 4 residents in implementing a thoughtful Town Hall strategy, such as the one used in the Walter Reed planning process. Should Foulger Pratt and Walmart choose not to employ this proven Ward 4 strategy, Ward 4 leaders indicated their willingness to explore other ways to implement this strategy before weighing in on the Large Tract Review application.

Site Upkeep: We implore you to keep the site up as well as possible. We are concerned about boarded up glass on the main show room, the seemingly semi-permanent tent structures erected to support the flea market. The flea market hours and operations are also a concern.

Redevelopment Plan: Please discuss how this project fits into the proposed Upper Georgia Avenue “Great Streets Redevelopment plan.”

Additionally, ANC 4B Chair Yvonne Jefferson has a proposal for a youth garden project on the site.

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