Thursday, January 20, 2011

Development-related links

Lydia DePillis reports from Tuesday's Brightwood Community Association meeting; Alex Baca gives a rundown of how Brightwood got into this Wal-Mart mess in the first place; and yours truly explains to the Important People that there are indeed advocates for smart growth in Ward 4 (despite what their past experiences have probably led them to believe).


  1. Is there a reason why the original mixed use plans were nixed and why so many (including politicians) are embracing Wal-Mart? Also, I read several of the related articles and don't think this area is "low density" as one blogger suggested. If for instance, a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods was to open in Takoma/Brightwood it would serve a much larger area.

    My husband and I oppose WalMart's plans to move into our neck of the woods. And wish politicians would ask their constituents what they would like before singing the praises of any business. Especially one like WalMart which in reality creates more poverty locally and globally.

  2. The original mixed-use plans were drafted before the real estate market went south in '08, and now the developers say those plans are "no longer economically viable". However, evidence of recent stabilization (see my post from Jan. 12, "Lenders are lending again...") suggests that the developers simply aren't interested in pursuing mixed-use plans and prefer to do the easiest thing, which is to lease the entire site to one tenant (Wal-Mart).

    To complicate matters further, one of the ANCs that is close to the site was opposed to the residential element of that proposal, because the ANC's constituents didn't guessed it...more density in the neighborhood. That ANC's request to rezone the site for commercial use only was denied by the Office of Planning just last week. Regardless, the ANC will likely oppose any futher residential plans that may (or may not) be added to the proposal.

    The neighborhood is "low density" compared to other areas of the city because it's comprised mostly of single-family homes, with few apartments. And the fact that the site isn't "transit-oriented" (i.e., not Right On Top Of a Metro Stop) makes adding density challenging. This will most likely change when the streetcar is built, but that's at least ten years away.

    The only way to have a say in the development of the site is to get involved, because as much as you'd like politicians to come to you to ask your opinion, it's just not working that way. Attend ANC meetings, attend Committee on Square 2986 meetings (I usually announce both on this blog), get involved with Ward Four Thrives (a community group that's advocating for smart development of the site).