Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ecco Park plans moving right along

The plans for the new Ecco Park development, at Carroll and Maple Streets NW, were shown at a public meeting last night. The architect, Sas Gharai, presented the plans along with Jeffrey Blum of Level2, the developer responsible for several other similar projects in the District, including View 14.

Although the plans for Ecco Park have been in place for years, Gharai only recently announced that he also intends to develop 231 Carroll Street, which is adjacent to the Ecco Park site and is currently occupied by a PMI public parking lot. The basic plans show the buildings to essentially be mirror images of each other, though some community members who attended the meeting encouraged Gharai to vary the facades. Both buildings combined will have between 9,000 and 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, and between 60 and 70 rental apartments. Retail tenants have not yet been identified, and Gharai is asking for community input on the types of retailers that are most needed in the neighborhood.

Zoning requires the sidewalk by the building to be at least 15 feet wide, but ANC commissioner Faith Wheeler encouraged Gharai to make them even wider in order to accommodate outdoor seating for the restaurants and coffee shops that are likely to occupy some of the retail spaces. Other community members asked him to reduce the height of the building (zoning limits the height to 55 feet, with an additional 18 feet for penthouse space).

As previously reported, Gharai intends to break ground on Ecco Park in June. He is aiming to work on constructing both Ecco Park and 231 Carroll Street at the same time.

Gharai will make changes to the design based on the comments he received last night. He'll present the changes at another public meeting, to be held in June.

"We want to build the right building, but we want to do it expeditiously," said Blum.


  1. Awesome. Density like this will only help the commercial in Takoma DC and MD.

    (If only this was coming to the corner of GA and MO.)

  2. Thanks for the update!

    Four stories seems pretty appropriate to me and would fit well in the area. Why were they encouraged to lower the height? I would be concerned that if if the height is reduced the number of units would be reduced as well, which would make it more difficult to support our neighborhood's small businesses. At the same time, wouldn't this force the developer to offer only expensive upscale units to cover costs?

  3. @Anonymous, the height concern was brought up by someone who represents the group Historic Takoma. She thought the 55 foot height would be too imposing on the the single family homes on Cedar Street (the houses on the same block as the 7/11). But it was quickly pointed out that there are other instances in the neighborhood of various sized buildings that are adjacent to one another. So not yet sure if Historic Takoma will take a firm stand on that issue (the building still has to go before the Historic Preservation Review Board).

  4. Thanks for the reply and reporting. I still 55 is more than reasonable and I'm excited for the additional support to our small businesses--hope the Historic Preservation Board agrees.

  5. As stated at the meeting, SGA is not soliciting restaurants as tenants, nor do they want to make provision for a sidewalk cafe by bringing the building back from the curb more than is required as this would take away from their total square footage.