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.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Continued aggravation about the city and its hands off treatment of Walmart: urban delivery

So in the big report that the ANC4B Committee on Square 2986 -- the site on Georgia Avenue where Foulger-Pratt is bringing Walmart -- had lots of recommendations for the City Planning Office and the DC Department of Transportation--most were ignored.

-- ANC4B Large Tract Review Report on Walmart, 5/2011

One of the big points made in the report was that just because the stores are going to locate "in the city" doesn't mean that the stores, especially the one on Georgia Avenue, are necessarily "urban" in that their site plans don't treat the urban landscape any differently than the suburban landscape--at least for 4 of the 6 stores that aren't part of vertical mixed use projects, with the exception of some structured parking--and expect most people to drive to and from the store, inducing motor vehicle trips in a part of the city with very limited road capacity on arterials, especially in the east-west direction.

So we recommended that the city ask Walmart to consider delivery for transactions larger than a set amount, such as $50.

After all, the Pan American International Supermarket on 14th Street NW in Columbia Heights, and El Toro Supermarket on the edge of DC and Prince George's County on Michigan Avenue NE drive customers home so long as they purchase $50 or more in a single transaction.

Georgia Avenue-Missouri Avenue intersection
Missouri Avenue at the northwest corner with Georgia Avenue, looking east.

We figured that delivery service would encourage people to get to and from the store by public transit, and not clogging up the roads, especially the problematic intersection of Georgia and Missouri Avenues, which has an off-set design, the result of how the road was built more than 100 years ago to connect Civil War-era forts, and which was never corrected.

The city transportation people, under orders from their ultimate boss, Mayor Gray, to make the deal happen and not ask for very much, didn't raise delivery as an option.

Delivery of course, back in the day, was a big thing for city stores, including department stores and supermarkets.  (Also see the 2006 blog entry, "Delivery services in the city and the creation of transportation management districts.")

The report made the point that Walmart was testing delivery in San Jose, California.  Yesterday's papers announce that Walmart is expanding this test to Northern Virginia.  See "Wal-Mart Tests Same-Day Delivery " from the New York Times.

This is one of many opportunities that DC didn't take to try to get Walmart's entry into the city fit better for the urban setting.

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