City wants a say

BY NAOMI EIDE

Residents came out this week to comment on the proposed Takoma Metro development, which lies just over Takoma Park city limits in Washington D.C.

“It’s a unique situation where the project is entirely located in D.C., but its impact is at least equally pronounced, maybe more, in the city of Takoma Park,” said Peter Kovar, a Takoma Park resident who lives near the development site.
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The developer’s revised plan, January, 2105. Eastern Avenue is at the top.

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An architect’s drawing based on the previous design. Eastern Avenue is at the bottom.

The council addressed the Takoma Park Metro development last Monday, voting unanimously for a resolution drafted by Councilmember Seth Grimes. The resolution asks for design modifications to the development proposal presented to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in January. That proposal is a revision of the development plan presented in 2013.

“The building is too big, it has too many parking spaces and it has an insufficient preservation of the green space that is currently at the Takoma metro site,” Grimes said.

The concerns the city council expressed in the resolution were that the proposed apartment building was too tall and broke D.C. zoning codes, a desire for more green space and a request for less residential parking with the option of below ground parking.

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The developer’s revised plan, January, 2105.

“Through improvements in the design, we believe that they can get much closer to the limits without sacrificing the number of apartment units,” Grimes said.

“We welcome new neighbors. Our problem is not having new people move in to Takoma, we like that, they’ll patronize businesses, they’ll make for a greater, better community,” Grimes said. “Our problem really is with the size of the building and that it doesn’t preserve green space.”

According to the revised site concept, the proposed plan includes a mid-rise apartment complex with around 200 unites on the existing Kiss & Ride site. The developer EYA also proposed permanent preservation of one acre of the open space as a village green. (update as of Jan. 2015 here)

The site would include a new Kiss & Ride facility with around 85 public, metered spaces, down from the previously proposed 95 spaces. There will also be six additional spaces for people with disabilities, as well as spots for driver-attended waiting and motorcycles.

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The developer’s revised plan, January, 2105. Eastern Avenue is at the top.

This is the second proposal to develop the Takoma Park Metro site in about 7 years. The previous proposal – sidelined by community opposition and the recession – featured luxury townhouses with attached two-car garages taking over most of the green space, said Sabrina Eaton, a Takoma Park resident who lives across from the site.

“What all the incarnations have in common, and this is something that many developers do, is they’re trying to get away with the most huge, humongous thing they think they could possibly build on the site,” Eaton said.

The WMATA board will accept comments on the proposed development until 5:00 p.m., March 2, 2015. The WMATA board’s Planning, Program Development and Real Estate Committee will discuss the comments on March 12, and the full WMATA board will vote to accept the report on March 26.

“The people who live here, we’re going to have to live with whatever they put up there, presuming that we don’t want to be selling our houses and booking out of here,” Eaton said.

(This link also shows the proposed changes http://www.wmata.com/community_outreach/R14-01_landing/Exhibit%20H.pdf )

About the Author

Naomi Eide
Naomi Eide is Washington state native who spent her college years and beyond wandering the East Coast. She received her undergraduate degree from Providence College in Rhode Island where she studied history and music. Following a year working in corporate America, Naomi left her full-time job for the University of Maryland where she is currently pursuing her Masters of Journalism.