LETTER TO THE EDITOR • BY CHRISTINA FITZPATRICK
Earlier this week the City released the draft Development Agreement with the Neighborhood Development Company (NDC), the firm chosen to revitalize Takoma Junction. This agreement is over a year in the making. The signing of this document will start the clock on making the vision of a vibrant, community-oriented Junction a reality.
One of the most contentious issues during the course of the debate about the development of the Junction was the impact on the Co-op. This Takoma Park institution is the biggest commercial presence in the Junction currently and is emblematic of residents’ commitment to environmental sustainability, healthy eating, and local business.
Therefore it is fitting that the negotiations prior to the selection of NDC as the developer and surrounding this Development Agreement feature prominently the desire to preserve this business and enable its expansion. In fact, the Development Agreement specifies that NDC may not lease space to a direct competitor of the Co-op. No other business in the Junction in this context or in the City in any other context has enjoyed this preferential treatment.
Of course, business will not continue as usual for the Co-op because the city-owned property next to it is the site of the planned redevelopment. Currently the Co-op and NDC are in negotiations to determine what modifications can meet the twin goals of facilitating the operations and expansion of the Co-op while also enabling the City-approved goal of bringing more vibrancy and development to the Junction.
Good faith efforts on both sides will yield a reasonable compromise. The City Council has set the ball in motion for these negotiations about the details of the arrangement between the Co-op and the developer. But is not a party to them.
Throughout this long process, the Council has made clear its intent to respect and support the importance of the Co-op to the Junction and to Takoma Park. Now it is up to these two private parties to make a deal and let the agreed-upon development of the area proceed.
The best thing the city can do now is sign the agreement it has negotiated with the developer. Please contact your council member or come to the meeting on July 13 and urge them to do so.