Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, May 23, 2011

DC is turning me into a nimby

Hey, today I spent the day at the International Parking Institute conference, and I might get involved in the Green Parking Council, all for my business--who would have thought that would ever be something I'd get involved in, working with "the man", etc.? (It happens to be relevant to bike parking.)

Yet today's Examiner reports in "D.C. wooing Wegmans for Walter Reed development," that some obviously insane DC government officials are approaching Wegmans, Target and other large customer generating retail operations, to get them to consider locating stores at the soon to be redeveloped Walter Reed site.

From the article:

Keith Sellars, senior vice president of development and retail for the Washington DC Economic Partnership, said city officials have been courting Wegmans ``for years`` but never had a site large enough. ``Now we have a site we believe will accommodate them at Walter Reed,`` he said. ``This is the most real opportunity for them to enter the market.``

The city announced in March that it will have 61 acres of the property included the campus` entire Georgia Avenue frontage, once the army hospital moves out, doubling its initial share of the prime retail corridor.

Hey, I'd love to be able to bike to a Wegmans... but I can't imagine how having Walmart, Wegmans and other large retailers within 1 mile of each other, on a relatively narrow roadway, one that is already carrying 25,000 vehicles/day (and granted it could carry more) WITHOUT EASY ACCESS TO A SUBWAY STATION, except through shuttle services--could possibly handle another 24,000/trips/day.

This makes the last section of the "Square 2986 Large Tract Review Committee's" report on the possible Walmart store all the more relevant:

Identified Gaps in Planning and Zoning Regulations

The need for more robust planning and zoning regulations was made evident to the committee throughout the consideration of the development proposal for Square 2986. Each recommendation is deserving of a separate and longer write up, which is beyond the scope of this report.

Recommendations for rectifying gaps in Planning and Zoning regulations

1. The Large Tract Review process does not adequately address potentially negative economic impact of projects generally. The LTR process is also deficient because it is essentially advisory, without the ability to directly mandate action or deny approval. These defects in the Large Tract Review process should be addressed and the process made more robust.

2. DC should create a new mandatory review process (“Large Retail Impact Review”) to address the various economic and other impacts of large scale retail projects in excess of 75,000 square feet.

3. Arguably, the Georgia Avenue site on Square 2986 does not have the capacity to meet the demands of uses generating great numbers of automobile trips, and therefore high traffic generating uses should not be able to be located there. Land use and building use approval processes should include provisions for linking use approvals to sites with the capacity to satisfy transportation demand to a great extant through the use of already extant transportation infrastructure. The “ABC” planning process employed in the Netherlands is a model for how this could be done in practice.

4. DC does not impose impact fees on new developments. Suburban jurisdictions, including Montgomery County, do impose such fees. Collection of such monies would provide another method to address mitigation of project impacts, including the cost of rectifying the impact of new projects on “downline” infrastructure.

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Probably a Wegmans would make more sense at the McMillan Reservoir site, being served by North Capitol Street, and to some extent Irving Street (although Michigan Avenue is closer, but not really capable of supporting much in the way of additional traffic).

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