GRANOLAPARK: The big eleven

The approximate area of the city lot now under consideration for redevelopment.

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

Are you confused by the whole Takoma Junction development thingie?

Here’s the brief:

1). The TPSS Co-op proposed redeveloping the city parking lot next to the store.

2). The city said “Hmmm, we should invite other development proposals. We might get a better offer.”

3). The city invited other offers. They got a bunch. They picked the four best.

4). The Co-op’s plan was not one of the final four. But the final four all included a a co-op expansion.

5.) The four final proposals were publicly presented. The public gave feedback.The city collected public questions to give to the developers.

6). The city winnowed the questions down to 11 and sent them to the developers.

7).) The developers answered.

8). The city council had public hearings and discussions. A lot of Co-op supporters and Junction neighbors turned out. Most were critical.

9). NOW, there will be an “Open House” at the community center Tuesday, Nov. 18. Residents can talk informally to the developers. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

You ask “what was in those questions?” Probes, that’s what!

Many of the questions were little tests to see how wiling the developers are to changing their plans in response to feedback and criticism. It was also a test to see if they’d be willing to give up some critical parts of (some, not all of) their original proposals. Would they scale down the number of stories from 3 to 2? Would they abandon plans to build a single-family house on the little city-owned, wooded parcel at the back?

tjunctionhearing19

One of the original plans showing a single family home on the back, wooded lot.

What service!

Dear Readers, as a service to you, Your Gilbert will save you the effort of reading each of the developer’s lengthy responses.

We have summarized them for you, put all the condensed responses together so you can compare them and put ALL OF IT on ONE PAGE.

OK, it’s a very long page. Have a very long drink to go with it.

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Guide to the Takoma Junction Rambunction

Summary: clarifying questions and answers

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The summary does not convey the developers’ tone and style. So, to address that . . .

Your Gilbert found the CommunityThree Development group’s answers the most annoying of the four. They are long, flowery, and full of meaningless but reassuring-sounding filler. Here’s their answer – and the other three developer’s answers to question 5). “Explain how you will solicit public input and engage the community during the design process and finalization of your proposal. How have you managed this in other projects? Can the façade design be modified during the process?”

Here are the first paragraphs of each answer:

CommunityThree Development
This redevelopment opportunity requires that the community be a true partner throughout the entire development process to ensure that its needs are heard, included, and implemented. The Community Three team brings this strong commitment to collaboration, not only by applying a community-based approach on every project, but by also demonstrating a proven methodology for engaging and “listening” to stakeholders. We are convinced that our knowledge, and understanding on every project is further enhanced by insights provided by stakeholders and community members to arrive at ‘win-win’ solutions that bring value to the community and to our developments.

Ability Project
The façade design, along with other design elements, may be modified during the charrette process.

Keystar/Ecohousing
Our extensive experience in Takoma tells us that we will have many community meetings.  In the past we have held larger meetings as well as small meetings in neighbors’ homes. In addition we will be having public presentations before MNPPC and the Historic Preservation Office.

Neighborhood Development Company
As outlined through previous submissions to the City of Takoma Park, NDC and Sorg anticipate implementation of a highly collaborative design process in order to finalize our
proposal. How we will solicit public input into the project and engage with the community can be characterized by reference to two major considerations of our process: timing and format.

Those first paragraphs give you an idea of each developer’s tone. Community Three (11 pages) blows a lot of hot air. Ability Project (10 pages) gets right to the point. Keystar/Echohousing (5 pages) gets to the point, but throws in some PR about how familiar they are with Takoma Park. Neighborhood Development Company (19 pages) may also be blowing some hot air, but they also seem to be highly analytical, and Well Organized – maybe a little too organized. They include a large and complicated flow chart of the design process. It looks great, but does it work in real life?

– Gilbert

PS. If you make a comment (and please do), and it doesn’t appear within a couple of hours, email editor@tpssvoice.com. Our spam filter is over-zealous. It would help if you include the word “Takoma” in your comment.

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About the Author

Gilbert
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.