GRANOLAPARK: Move the co-op


Dear Readers,

The co-op should move.

Nobody wants to hear or say this because the TPSS food co-op and its supporters are in full protective-mode, and the co-op was just offered (and presumably signed) a 20-year lease on the Turner Building.

Your Gilbert fears they have not thought this through.

The Takoma Junction anchor store is worried it will starve and die when the city parking lot next to them becomes a construction site, driving away customers.

It could happen.

They are also worried about their loading dock. Even now there isn’t much room for an 18-wheeler delivery truck to pull into the city lot. How will they maintain a loading space during construction and what kind of facility would the development give them? One developer’s plan gave them a loading area with use restricted to the small morning-hours before it became a school drop-off zone.


TPSS Co-op at Takoma Junction.

Development or not, the co-op plans to expand to twice its current size. Even without the development next door, the co-op will need more space for trucks and parking, and a bigger store would bring more traffic into an already notoriously clogged intersection.

Councilmember Fred Schultz suggested the development’s first step be to move the co-op entirely into a new building on the far side of the lot to get it out of the construction zone. He and others don’t see how the development, which would include additional co-op space, can be built next door (where the current loading dock is) without reducing normal co-op business – as the co-op fears.

So, move it – temporarily, at least – far from the construction. How about New Hampshire Avenue? Or Piney Branch Avenue near the Flower Avenue intersection? Those are 4- to 6-lane roads. There are commercial spaces with ample space to swing an 18-wheeler, and loads of parking. Both areas are slated for major developments that would benefit from having an anchor-store such as the co-op.

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Another development?

Consider this – while the city was focused on the Takoma Junction development, another development was proposed Sept. 23 at a little-attended meeting.

It was a last-ditch attempt by the developer to build a self-storage facility and retail store-front at what is now the Auto Advance store at the corner of Eastern and New Hampshire Avenues. County building code changes this month will make it harder to build something as wrong-headed as self-storage units at that spot, so they made one more try.

The Maisel-Hollins Development Company proposed this in 2006. The city heaped disapproval on the proposal in an official resolution.

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The city hopes the down-scale corner at New Hampshire and Eastern Avenues will someday live up to the up-scale sign.

This was not, the council said, appropriate for Takoma Park’s southwestern “gateway.” The design left an ugly parking lot at the corner, which the city would like to be an attractive, welcoming site. It also put a tall mass of storage facility facing residential housing on Sligo Mill Road at the lot’s rear. Local residents are not happy.

No word on the outcome, but the county is not likely to approve it.

So, this auto parts store was originally a supermarket.


Wouldn’t that make a nice temporary location for the co-op? It is easily large enough to double it’s current footage.

There are other potential locations as well. The Piney Branch/Flower intersection is just outside the city border, but not far from the co-op’s original Silver Spring store, and the former location of a food co-op supermarket in the 50s and 60s. If there are no suitable locations available now, one might be before the development process reaches its 2016  “dirt-shoveling” phase.

The 20-year lease the co-op was recently offered for its current building would make moving difficult, but maybe the co-op could maintain a “convenience store” at the current location selling items such as milk, eggs, and toilet paper for neighborhood walk-ins who would be less daunted by ongoing construction than drivers.

SOMEBODY’S got to suggest this, even if it stirs the scorpions. That someone might as well be Your Gilbert. A diet of cheap vodka makes us immune to scorpion stings, anyway.

– Gilbert


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About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.