Friday, December 31, 2010

Sam Gilliam is relocating his gallery/studio space to 14th & Longfellow

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This is great news for the neighborhood. Artist Sam Gilliam is relocating his gallery/studio space from U Street (his studio there, on the second floor of the same building that Good Wood occupies, was recently sold) to 5507 14th Street NW. Taalib-Din Uqdah, of the 14th Street Uptown Business Association, told me that Gilliam confirmed the new space will open on Monday, January 3.

I'll post more details as I learn them. I'm looking forward to welcoming Gilliam to the neighborhood!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The dialogue with small businesses commences

Last night Councilmember Bowser held the first of several open meetings with Ward 4 small business owners. Present were representatives from Yes! Organic Market, the Missouri Avenue Market, the Korean-American Grocers Association of Greater Washington, the Latino Economic Development Corporation, Colony Liquor, Brightwood Bistro, Sweet Mango Cafe, Jackson-Hewitt, Quality Printers, Crown Bakery, and several others that I failed to scribble down in my notebook.

Bowser stated that regardless of how each particular business owner feels about Wal-Mart (and opinions vary widely among business owners, just as they do among residents), her goal is to negotiate a community benefits agreement that will protect standing businesses should the deal go through, as well as (I hope) make Brightwood and Ward 4 friendly toward new small business development in the future (she mentioned that there are "models that we can look toward in terms of impact mitigation"...I'd like to know more about those models). (I should note here that due to the fact that this is a matter-of-right proposal, Wal-Mart isn't under any obligation to honor a CBA of any kind, and I highly doubt that they would commit to a CBA simply out of the goodness of their little Wal-Mart hearts, which really scares me, but I digress...)

She also mentioned that she is negotiating with the Office of Planning about keeping the mixed-use residential element that Foulger-Pratt had initially planned for the site.

She brought up the well-known dilemma: although there are obviously a lot of people who patronize Georgia Avenue shops, there are also a lot of residents who can't even name a store on Georgia Avenue. She noted that there are basic needs that aren't readily available here. "Where can you buy clothes?" she asked, and the room went silent (that's because I restrained myself from yelling, "The Georgia Avenue Thrift Store, duh! Where about 80% of the 'new' clothing that I've bought since I moved to Brightwood came from! And don't I look fabulous, by the way??").

So what can we do to ensure a palatable business environment here? Various attendees stated ideas: Brightwood needs marketing, and branding; give tax breaks to business owners, not property owners; locate your niche market and cater to it passionately; reinvigorate the Great Streets plan. (Regarding that last point, Bowser mentioned that this can't be done without increasing residential density, and that many Brightwood residents are vehemently opposed to doing so.)

The Beacon Brightwood Business Alliance circulated a questionnaire, aiming to collect data on business owners' thoughts on Wal-Mart's potential impact. I'm looking foward to seeing the results of the survey and seeing how they compare to those of the Latino Economic Development Corporation's survey.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Public meeting with Wal-Mart & Foulger-Pratt tonight @ Bridges Academy

ANC 4B03 Commissioner Monique Michelle Smith has kindly arranged a community forum with representatives from Wal-Mart and Foulger-Pratt this evening. I was hesitating to post it, because both Wal-Mart and Foulger-Pratt were scheduled to attend the ANC 4D meeting yesterday, but they backed out very late in the day, and I'm suspecting a similar flake-out might occur tonight (I'll be sure to update this post if it happens). For now, the details are:

When: Wednesday, December 22, 6:30-8:00 PM

Where: Bridges Academy, 6119 Georgia Avenue NW (same block as the GA Ave. Thrift Store)

"You can't demand fun, high-quality, neighborhood-serving retail without accepting more residents."

At the risk of angering the people who so strongly opposed the mixed-use project for the Curtis Chevrolet site, I'll go on record as saying that I strongly disagree with their stance. Housing Complex boils down the reason quite succinctly.

Here's the bottom line: You can't demand fun, high-quality, neighborhood-serving retail without accepting more residents. Brightwood isn't high-density or high-income enough to support the kinds of things Speaks and Co. are asking for, and when you oppose mixed-use projects, you're just asking for a Walmart.

GGW follows up: Want a Trader Joe's? Then add more residents.

It's simple. Unless your neighborhood is in the process of growing rapidly, it's unlikely to get more retailers and probably not the kind you want. Most of the time, the retail market is close to an equilibrium where the number of retailers matches the demand for retail in that area. Only when a neighborhood is gaining population is the time ripe to add more.

Once upon a time, the commercial corridors thrived without this added housing, except for two factors. First, family sizes were substantially larger, and a typical single-family house might have parents, 3-4 kids and even some relatives living there. Now, family sizes are smaller, but many neighbors also fight proposals to allow basement or garage apartments, even though those would simply restore the numbers of people that the house used to hold.

Second, people shop more online and more in suburban big box centers. That's not going to change. Bringing big box retail into DC, as these Wal-Marts do, might keep more of the tax dollars from big box shopping in DC, but won't create healthy neighborhood shopping corridors.

Neighborhoods can either stay the same size, and see local retail gradually decline as online shopping grows and DC adds big box stores. Or, they can add enough new residents to support new retail options. Most of us prefer the latter. Some people, though, want to stop new residents but also have the retail. That's completely unrealistic.

Blue Banana opens, patrons flock to open bar

Looks like the soft opening of the Blue Banana bar was a resounding success, particularly the open bar hour between 8 and 9 pm (which will be repeated tonight at the same time).

The Blue Banana is located at 3632 Georgia Avenue, just south of the intersection of Georgia and New Hampshire.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Results of Latino Economic Development Corporation's survey of Georgia Ave. small businesses

Last Saturday I canvassed small businesses on Georgia Avenue, along with staff and volunteers from the Latino Economic Development Corporation. We presented business owners and managers with a survey, aiming to find out how they thought the proposed Wal-Mart at Georgia and Missouri Avenues would impact them. We also asked about areas that they felt their businesses needed strengthening. Our target area began at Peabody Street and stretched down to Emerson Street. You can view the results of the survey here.

ANC 4B forms Wal-Mart committee; and an action alert regarding Famous Pawn

ANC 4B is officially forming a committee composed of concerned citizens that will be tasked with scrutinizing all things Wal-Mart. The committee will review the company's proposal as well as the Large Tract Review.

The ANC hopes that people with expertise in certain areas (i.e. architecture, engineering, urban planning, transportation planning) will serve on the committee and/or subcommittees. Interested individuals should drop an e-mail to Jim Irwin at 4B's office, office @


And in case you haven't had enough of controversial businesses that want to locate in our area...

DCRA says that the license for Famous Pawn at 7301 Georgia Ave. is now "in order" to be issued. Commissioner Sara Green sent an e-mail earlier today saying that CM Bowser is asking for a reconsideration and that constituents need to raise hell about it right now in order to be effective. Green issued the following sample letter (e-mail addresses to send it to are at the bottom):

To Our City Government:
We have learned that DCRA is about to issue a pawn license for 7301 Georgia Avenue, NW.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 4A and 4B, along with residents and dozens of surrounding businesses and civic associations, including the Takoma DC Neighborhood Association and Concerned Neighbors, Inc., actively oppose this license.

If this license is issued for 7301 Georgia, our small corner of the city will have one-third of the pawnshops in DC! They are already located at 6212 Georgia and 6400 Georgia.

The pawn regulations say a license must promote the "advantage" of the community. Georgia Avenue's chances for revival will be crippled if this license is issued. We aren't a dumping ground! This large concentration of pawnshops discourages the new businesses we want here.

Please reconsider and deny this license.

Send To:
Mayor Fenty: amfenty @
Mayor-Elect Gray: vgray @
City Administrator Neil Albert: NeilAlbert @
City Administrator-Designate Allen Lew: AllenLew@
The entire DC City Council: membersonly @
DCRA Director Linda Argo: linda.argo @
DCRA Director-Designate Nicholas Majett: nicholas.majett @
DCRA Administrator Harold Pettigrew: harold.pettigrew @

Monday, December 20, 2010

Special ANC 4B meeting tonight to discuss Curtis Chevrolet development

Reminder that tonight is the ANC 4B's special meeting devoted to Curtis Chevrolet/Wal-Mart issues. This is the draft agenda:

  • Zoning issue about restricting the Curtis Chevrolet site to commercial only (20 min)
  • Information presentation from Office of Planning about Large Tract Review process (20 min)
  • Wal-Mart community discussion (1 hr...?)
  • Creation of special Wal-Mart committee (20 min)
  • Filling of standing committees (20 min)
  • other regular business as agreed to by unanimous consent

The meeting will begin at 6:30 and could run as late as 9 pm.

Those of you who live outside of 4B but who are still concerned about the development's effect on the surrounding area are encouraged to attend, as a resolution will be discussed that would allow non-4B residents to serve on the committee.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bowser on TBD today; DePuyt asks the big questions

Notes from last night's ANC 4B planning meeting regarding the Curtis Chevrolet site

I attended the ANC 4B planning meeting last night. Present were Commissioners Sara Green, Yvonne Jefferson, Monique Michelle Smith, James Sydnor, and 4B04 Commissioner-Elect Doug Smith, as well as staff assistant Jim Irwin. Thanks to Michele Baskin for taking notes throughout the meeting; her summary follows, and additional notes follow the summary.

Noted by Michele Baskin:

This meeting was simply a planning meeting to set the agenda for the Dec 20 meeting. The agreed upon agenda will be sent out to listserves along with a compiled list of ANC4B commissioner's concerns relating to the Wal-Mart development. As discussed, the agenda will look something like this:
  • Zoning issue about restricting the Curtis Chevrolet site to commercial only (20 min)
  • Information presentation from Office of Planning about Large Tract Review process (20 min)
  • Wal-Mart community discussion (1 hr...?)
  • creation of special Wal-Mart committee (20 min)
  • filling of standing committees (20 min)
  • other regular business as agreed to by unanimous consent
The December 20 meeting will begin at 6:30 and could run as late as 9 pm. A draft resolution was reviewed which stated that the committee would be established at the December 20 meeting with a chairperson appointed by the Commission. The Chairperson will be either a commissioner or a resident. Membership to the committee can either be voted on by the commission or by another process that the commission determines.

Important question yet to be answered: can people outside of 4B serve on the committee? This will depend on the language of the resolution that is adopted. Commissioners did mention that it might not be wise to restrict membership to 4B residents only, as expertise could be lost. But it needs to be specified in the resolution adopted on December 20.

It was suggested to create a special ANC4B listserve for Wal-Mart issues only as well as a website to keep communication flowing to the community from the ANC and the special Wal-Mart committee/sub-committees.

Other notes from the meeting:
James Sydnor expressed concern about jobs in terms of the 600 current DC residents working for Wal-Mart in MD/VA and loss of other retail jobs, and Wal-Mart saturating market. He cited a statistic that Wal-Mart has negative effects on businesses for a four mile radius around it. He said that if that's true, it's bad news for DC businesses, since the four planned Wal-Mart stores are within 5 miles of each other.

Jim Irwin will try to get someone from the Office of Planning to come to the Dec. 20 meeting to talk about the Large Tract Review process. This item will lead off the Dec 20th meeting. Yvonne Jefferson reiterated Muriel Bowser's request for the building to be two-level (either more commercial or mixed-use), with Wal-Mart above and ground-floor spaces set aside for other retail. Sydnor expressed concern that the leases be manageable for small businesses if such a structure were to come to fruition.

Regarding the car barn: contrary to popular belief, it has not been designated a historic site.

Traffic issues were discussed. Sydnor noted that Peabody Street will be affected, it might have to become a one-way street. He also wonders if the new development on Riggs Road near the Fort Totten Metro would be a better fit for Wal-Mart. Jefferson said that a big grocery store is already in the works for that site, and we need to look at the impact this Wal-Mart might have on that large development.

Sara Green said several people have mentioned that the proposal is weak in the area of traffic, and that Wal-Mart knows it. Is 362 parking spaces enough? Will it be open parking or paid parking? Jefferson said the Large Tract Review will address the adequacy of the parking. Jefferson doesn't want to see Wal-Mart move in and put Safeway out of business, rather than providing healthy competition for the Safeway. Green - let's get people with real expertise on the committees -- union people, architects, engineers, etc.; also, let's find out what promises and projects Ward 1 able to get out of Target, and can we use that as leverage to get similar community benefits from Wal-Mart and Foulger-Pratt?

Sara Green pointed out that she's not sure, realistically, what the ANC's role can be in telling a private employer how to handle their workforce. She prefers to concentrate on areas that the ANC can impact, such as traffic, architecture. "We have 'great weight' on the Large Tract Review, but that's it." She understands that many people will consider anything short of stopping the Wal-Mart altogether to be a non-victory, but she also knows that there are a lot of people with power in this city who are determined to make sure Wal-Mart gets its way because their presence will "supposedly increase our tax base". Multiple commissioners reiterated that the LTR process is the only leverage that exists and can be used to slow the process down as long as they stay ahead of Foulger-Pratt.

Wal-Mart has said they will pay $8.75 per hour, which is competitive with other big-box retailers (Best Buy and H&M were cited as examples). Multiple commissioners parroted the Wal-Mart talking point of hiring local Ward 4 residents for jobs (which is only a promise and not enforceable...without a legally binding document, they can do what they want).

Jefferson said the city wants ANC4B to make a resolution for this development. F-P wanted it in January. That is not enough time to review the implications of what a Wal-Mart would mean for our community.

Green: Foulger-Pratt made a deal, and it was a deal between private parties. However, there are a lot of people who feel that F-P should chose a tenant for their site more carefully, and those people need to be heard. Can we pressure Wal-Mart to agree to meet with the community on a monthly process through this process? Can we consider that a "victory"?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fusion celebrates its second anniversary tonight

Fusion restaurant at 4815 Georgia Avenue NW has been open (and serving fantastic food) for two years, and they're celebrating the landmark this evening. Neighbors and fans of the restaurant are invited to swing by starting at 5pm. Go on over, especially if you've never been before.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Two ANC 4B meetings, open to the public, will discuss plan for Curtis Chevrolet site

ANC 4B will hold two meetings within the next week. The topic of both meetings will be how the ANC will proceed regarding the potential development of the Wal-Mart at the Curtis Chevrolet site at Georgia and Missouri Avenues NW. The ANC will plan the formation of committees that will address specific issues of concern to the residents of 4B (the immediate neighbors of the Curtis Chevrolet site). ANC 4B does not normally open planning meetings such as these to the public, but due to the impact that the development of the Curtis Chevrolet site will have on the community, all neighbors are encouraged to attend, discuss their concerns, and participate in the formation of the committees.

Times, dates, and locations are as follows:

First planning meeting:
When: Wednesday, December 15, 6:30pm
Where: Emery Recreation Center, 5701 Georgia Ave. NW (b/w Madison St. & Missouri Ave.)

Second planning meeting:
When: Monday, December 20, 6:30pm
Where: MPD 4th District Community Room, 6001 Georgia Ave. NW (b/w Peabody & Quackenbos Streets)

Monday, December 13, 2010

GSA: We don't want those 30+ acres at Walter Reed after all

More Walter Reed news...GSA has rescinded its claim on a sizeable a chunk of the Walter Reed property, which could mean that the land will be transferred to the District...unless the State Department, which has also expressed interest, elbows in.

D.C. officials are negotiating to acquire more property along Georgia Avenue, where it could add to the 900,000 square feet of housing and 200,000 square feet of shops and restaurants they already plan.

"We're working on what could be a revision of the boundaries," said Jose Sousa, spokesman for the deputy mayor for planning and economic development. "The District obviously has continued interest in maximizing the retail opportunities on Georgia and is engaging its federal partners as to how to make that happen."

Wal-Mart back to sticking its fingers in NYC's pie

From NYT:

Wal-Mart, an inescapable part of the retail landscape just about everywhere except in New York City, twice retreated on efforts to open stores in the city after fierce community opposition.

Now it is back, and mounting an aggressive campaign to crack the country’s largest urban market. Wal-Mart is looking at properties in each of the five boroughs and has hired Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s former campaign manager, Bradley Tusk, to help coordinate its lobbying efforts.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bowser, Norton plan to fight Cardin's Walter Reed proposal

This isn't going down without a fight!

"Delegate Holmes Norton and I spoke directly today; she is on top of the issue," said Councilmember Bowser. "We are both committed to protecting Ward 4 and the community's plans for the redevelopment of Walter Reed. Relocating New Beginnings to the campus is simply inappropriate for a residential area, would scuttle the long-contemplated redevelopment plan, and would undermine the desires of the community." CM Bowser is also working with the Mayor's office and the Office of the Attorney General to oppose Sen. Cardin's efforts.

More on Cardin's request to move juvenile detention center to Walter Reed

More on Maryland Senator Ben Cardin's proposal to move the New Beginnings youth detention center to Walter Reed, from the Post:

"I think the likelihood that this amendment will be considered is not very great," Cardin said in a brief interview Thursday. "But I just want people to understand that this is a continued concern that we have to resolve."

New Beginnings is located in Laurel.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

MD senator wants to move DC juvenile detention center to Walter Reed

Via WBJ:

Cardin wants the District to move the New Beginnings Youth Development Center, currently located in Laurel, to the Walter Reed campus. An amendment Cardin hopes to offer to a pending defense appropriations bill bars the secretary of the Army from accepting or approving a redevelopment plan for Walter Reed that does not provide for the transfer.

It is probably not what the District, or Walter Reed's neighbors, had in mind when they pondered the transformational project on upper Georgia Avenue.


Cardin submitted the amendment Tuesday, but it is unclear whether it will be considered by his senate colleagues. It isn't known yet whether amendments will be accepted to the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, a Cardin spokeswoman said, or even when the bill will come up for a vote. But it is absolutely the senator's intention to push the amendment, she said, if given the opportunity.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Foulger-Pratt faces the public, emerges relatively unscathed

To say that the public meeting that was held last night at Emory United Methodist Church's Fellowship Hall was intense would be quite an understatement. That room was on fire.

Most of the 4B commissioners were present; three representatives of Foulger-Pratt, the development company that owns the Curtis Chevrolet site, were present; as were 100+ members of the community, from Brightwood and beyond. Wal-Mart did not send representatives. Foulger-Pratt presented the initial rendering of the planned development: a single-use, single-story structure with one retail tenant. Any possibility of the development being mixed-use with residential, or two-level with multiple retail tenants, was not addressed.

As expected, community members passionately and eloquently voiced their displeasure at the lack of information flow so far from Foulger-Pratt and Wal-Mart. F-P did its best to address those concerns, but ultimately those present came to understand that the community would have very little real input on this privately-funded project.

"Is this a done deal?" That was the question that was repeated by several community members, and after an hour and a half of hemming and hawing an answer was given: no, it's not a done deal (because no lease has been signed). But there is also no "plan b"...if the deal doesn't go through, we could be living with a vacant lot for another half decade (unless those of us who are believers start praying for a miracle bidding war, and those prayers are answered).

Yes, the proposed tenant will bring jobs. "Poverty-level jobs!", asserted one attendee. CM Bowser replied that with so many of her constituents currently out of work, there's little room to argue. "We're all concerned about fair wages, but what about no wages? That's what many residents of DC are facing right now."

One of the central discussions during the Q&A session was the current state of Upper Georgia Avenue. Randall Clarke, past economic development chair of the Brightwood Community Association, made the point that although it's true that Wal-Mart has had negative impacts on neighborhood retail in rural and suburban communities, it's very difficult to gauge how it would impact Brightwood because a) we don't have much of a "main street" to begin with and b) urban format stores are new ventures for Wal-Mart, and we have few other Wal-Mart-ed urban neighborhoods to study and compare ourselves to. Best-case scenario is that a "main street" will develop around the Wal-Mart; worst case is that any smaller businesses will be unsustainable with a Wal-Mart so close by. What about beyond Georgia Avenue; would Wal-Mart's presence cause Kennedy Street to be blighted for another 20 years, or will we see the planned Kennedy Street revitalization project grow? Interesting times ahead, Brightwood.

It's official: Gabe Klein is leaving DDOT

DDOT director Gabe Klein just announced that he will resign effective January 1. According to Mike DeBonis, he said "I think it's probably not a good fit for me going forward," referring, I assume, to working in the Gray administration. DCist's Aaron Morrissey said that Klein feels that DDOT will be less entrepreneurial under Gray, and "not a good fit for me".

You've done wonderful work, Gabe. I know that in your next venture, whatever it may be, you will continue to improve our city.

First look at proposed Georgia Ave. Wal-Mart

Those of you who attended last night's meeting saw this there, but for those of you who were unable to attend, here's the rendering of the plan for the proposed Wal-Mart store at Georgia and Missouri Avenues. I'll write more about the meeting later; for now see Jonathan O'Connell's report in the Post.

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.

Time/location clarification for tonight's public meeting: 7pm, Emory Fellowship Hall

There's been a lot of confusion about this, since the meeting was originally scheduled to be held at the 4th District police headquarters. Then the start time was announced as 6:30 pm. I've received clarification from the Brightwood Community Association on those details:
Where: Emory Fellowship Hall, 6100 Georgia Avenue NW
When: 7:00 pm

100 more CaBi stations planned, but no word on locations

Via WashCycle, DDOT director Gabe Klein said in his online chat last week that 100 more Capital Bikeshare stations are planned and that DDOT already has locations picked out, but no word on where those locations are. DDOT is still encouraging you to send your wish lists for new locations to Capital Bikeshare project manager Chris Holben: chris.holben at

Monday, December 6, 2010

Action items in preparation for tomorrow evening's meeting regarding the Wal-Mart plans

Last night a meeting was held, in which several community members brainstormed ways to slow Foulger-Pratt's development process until there can be sufficient community input about the Wal-Mart plans. About 25 people were in attendance, including commissioners, reps from the UFCW, business people, and residents of the affected neighborhoods. The plans are moving quickly, and your input is very important at this point.

Key items from the discussion:

*The new location for Tuesday's meeting is Emory United Methodist Church's Fellowship Hall, 6100 Georgia Ave NW - please spread the word!

*Our goal at this point is to get the developer, Foulger-Pratt, to halt their Wal-Mart plans until there is sufficient time for community input.

*In addition to inviting friends and neighbors in Ward 4 to Tuesday night's meeting, our other task is to each make 3 calls/e-mails:

1. Since representatives from Foulger-Pratt have claimed that they will not attend the meeting on Tuesday (even though they're the ones who called the meeting to order in the first place!) because they feel that a community meeting is "unnecessary", please write to Dick Knapp at Foulger-Pratt to demand that he or another rep from Foulger-Pratt attend the meeting. dknapp at

2. To Councilmember Muriel Bowser, asking her to make sure Foulger-Pratt attends the meeting, and also to halt the development process until there can be a full independent analysis of traffic and environmental impact and sufficient community review of plans.
Phone: 202-724-8052, or mbowser at

3. To your ANC Commissioner, asking him or her to attend the meeting, and to demand that Foulger-Pratt attends the meeting and halts the process until there can be a full independent analysis of traffic and environmental impact and sufficient community review of plans. For help identifying and contacting your ANC, see this site:

If you have any questions, feel free to write me.

***UPDATE 4:00 pm***
Mr. Knapp has informed me that he will attend the meeting after all. I'm very thankful that he's going to be present.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wal-Mart and Foulger-Pratt reps met with 4A, 4B ANCs last night

I spoke with several commissioners who attended last night's meeting, and came away with some information about the planned development:
  • A presentation of the proposed development was provided, and though I haven't seen the renderings myself, the general consensus seems to be that the building is decent looking and not one of the big-box behemoths of ugliness that Wal-Mart is famous for. The plan does not include saving the historic car barn that is on the Curtis Chevrolet site. I'm not sure if the Historic Preservation Office has the final say on that, but Wal-Mart's stance was clearly stated: they want that car barn gone.

  • Of course traffic issues were raised, but of course neither company has control over the redesign of the intersection of Georgia and Missouri Avenues. That's for DDOT to handle.

  • Access to the underground parking garage will be from Peabody Street. The building will be set back from the street, allowing for 23 feet of sidewalk.

  • According to Commissioner James Sydnor's notes, "A store of this size will require three truck deliveries per day which will access the store from Missouri Ave., with enough room to turn around on site. Consideration will be given to six smaller trucks as an alternative to the three larger trucks. The community may wish to give consideration to six daily deliveries instead of three."

  • One attendant asked if Wal-Mart, Foulger-Pratt or the city had calculated this development's effect on independent businesses, and what would be the corresponding loss in jobs and tax revenue, but received no direct answer.
It's difficult to write about this objectively for the blog when I remain very unconvinced that Wal-Mart is going to be the cure for what ails Upper Georgia Avenue. As I mentioned earlier, Foulger Pratt is attempting to wriggle out of the December 7 meeting that has been planned and wants to consider last night's meeting the "public meeting". Understandable that they don't want to deal with the opposition...after all, many communities have successfully opposed Wal-Mart; so perhaps this plan can be altered, and Brightwood can instead attract a different large retailer, and hopefully one whose labor practices are less abhorrent than Wal-Mart's.

Foulger-Pratt backs out of "unnecessary" Dec. 7 meeting

Foulger-Pratt has opted not to facilitate the community meeting that it announced a few weeks ago. Dick Knapp of Foulger-Pratt, who is in charge of the Curtis Chevrolet site, said he felt it was "unnecessary", because ANCs could pass along the information that was conveyed to them at last night's meeting (I'll post a report on that meeting later today).

I wholeheartedly disagree that it's "unnecessary" for Foulger-Pratt to meet with the community, and I hope they reconsider and send a representative to the December 7 meeting. Now, leadership of the meeting has been turned over to our ANCs. With or without Foulger-Pratt present, it will be an opportunity to voice your concerns about the project.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Location of Dec. 7 meeting with Wal-Mart reps changed to Emory Fellowship Hall

The 4th District Police Headquarters' community room was double-booked, so the public meeting with Wal-Mart and Foulger-Pratt reps has been moved:

When: Tuesday, Dec. 7, 6:30 pm
Where: Emory Fellowship Hall in the Emory United Methodist Church, 6100 Georgia Ave. NW