GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
The Takoma Junction developer is free to seek a new anchor store. The city council voted to allow the Neighborhood Development Company to drop the TPSS Food Co-op from its plan.
The developer, however, said they still want the Co-op as the anchor store and will continue to negotiate with them.
The Co-op will stay in its current location in a rented, privately-owned building next to the city lot under development. Unless it can make a deal with developer NDC it will not expand into the new development as hoped, however.
Citizens shaking off the rain as they enter the city community center for the Jan. 11 city council meeting. Photo by Bill Brown.
The city council was forced by the city’s contract with NDC to chose one of two options at the year’s first regular meeting. Option A” would allow the developer to choose another anchor store. “Option B” would fire the developer.
The difficult choice was triggered when the developer and Co-op failed to negotiate a letter of intent by the Jan 6 deadline. The letter would have been a non-binding “hand-shake” agreement outlining the basic features of the Co-op’s expansion.
This stage of the development process has been stalled since the summer. The deadline is past and the last extension was up Jan. 6. Negotiations between the food store and developer continued, however up until the Jan. 11 city council meeting. The city is not involved in the negotiations, though it has monitored and advised throughout the process.
Even with eleventh-hour negotiations the Co-op and NDC positions were too far apart on Jan. 11. The co-op made concessions on it’s loading dock requirement, and the developer reduced the size of rest of the building. However, there were a number of other unresolved issues such as which party was financial responsible for various parts of the construction.
Resident and Co-op supplier Mike Tabor speaks during Citizen Comment period, Jan. 11. Photo by Bill Brown.
Before the 11 p.m. vote city councilmembers described their difficulties making a decision. Each has been heavily lobbied by constituents.
Councilmember Terry Seamens said “this is most difficult vote I’ve faced.” since he joined the council in 1999.
Councilmember Tim Male said his Ward 2 is evenly split on the issue. Regardless of how he voted, he said, he was certain to disappoint half his constituents.
Making a decision was not easy, he said. He said he took flack for a message he posted the previous night saying he would vote to drop the developer. He got 51 responses, he said. Those responses and citizen comments at the meeting swayed him the other way.
The developer, council and residents who spoke all agreed that they’d like to see an expanded Co-op as the development’s anchor store. That is still possible. The developer is not obligated to sign a different anchor store. Nothing in the contract prevents NDC from continuing to negotiate with the Co-op. On the other hand, they are free to find another anchor store if Co-op negotiations fail.
For more details on the Takoma Junction developement see last week’s Granolapark: 2016 in review.
The council vote unanimously to affirim Green Team priorities and to make an appointment to the Takoma Junction Community Consultation Process Advisory Committee, replacing a member who was unable to serve. The replacement – and the vote for Option A – was just in time. The committee’s first meeting is Thursday, Jan. 12.
At the Jan. 9 council retreat, councilmembers stand up against racism. Photo by Bill Brown.
The council had a retreat January 9 to discuss priorities. These priorities will shape the city manager’s budget. At the meeting a consultant led a workshop on racial equality.
Like us on Facebook: