GRANOLAPARK: Development gallops on

By William L. Brown.

IMAGE: Artwork created at the July 27 city council meeting cartoonist-conclave Politically Inclined, organized by the city’s We Are Takoma arts and humanities program. See the Voice article City Council Captured. Drawing by William L. Brown.


Dear Readers,

The city signed the Takoma Junction redevelopment deal. That means the developer is under contract and calendar countdown has begun.

Surprisingly, the last-minute changes to the lease agreement the council cooked up last week were acceptable to the Neighborhood Development Company, the firm whose baby the city parking lot now is. There will be no further delays, which would have put the vote and signing off until September.

The developer even went for the “Third Option,” which is not an old Orson Welles movie.

The Third Option and other changes mostly protect the TPSS Co-op, the past, current and future anchor grocery store. The food store squats in a rented building next to the city parking lot, just oozing success and popularity.

The development would adjoin the Co-op’s building, allowing it to expand to twice its size.

By William L. Brown.

The Co-op – special treatment? Drawing by William L. Brown.

The Co-op is worried, however, that the operation will kill the patient – them – in the process. They find the developer’s plan for a truck unloading station and the parking arrangements for part of the construction period inadequate.

Co-op staff, board and customers have been bringing their worries to the city council for months (years, actually), but the city council is fed up. And some are more than fed up. Councilmember Jarrett Smith said that all the special treatment the city has bestowed on the Co-op has him in disbelief. No other business, he said, has ever had such treatment. In contrast, he said, they city treated its largest employer, the Washington Adventist Hospital – which has been here over 100 years – with hostility.

Well, when the Co-op tears down historic buildings, ignores local building codes and skips town leaving it with no emergency medical services, the city will get hostile to it, too.

The Co-op representatives seemed like they were maybe, possibly, perhaps willing to give it a go with NDC. They should be – they got a pile of new concessions in the lease agreement changes.

The Third Option gives the city the option to terminate the contract after the LOI 120 day deadline.

What’s the LOI, you ask? That’s a “letter of intent,” which everyone calls a “handshake agreement” between NDC and the Co-op. It would list terms they both agree on – such as unloading zones and parking during construction. They were supposed to have this by now, but they haven’t moved beyond the NWJ phase – the No Way Jose phase.

Supposedly, the two parties are seeking professional mediation to get past it.

The second change to the agreement “requires” rather than “authorizes” NDC to provide “reasonable accommodation” to the Co-op. One of those accommodations is now spelled out, too. That’s, “access for loading of deliveries and Co-op customer parking.”

The third set of changes deal with more resident’s concerns (other than the Co-op): sustainable building, public gathering space, locally owned retail, improved mobility, streetscapes and parking. It also requires accommodation for Co-op parking and loading if they can’t negotiate the LOI – and if the Co-op chooses to stay in its current space.

Comment on how long the first agenda item dragged on. By William L. Brown.

The first voting item – the development lease agreement – took a very long time. Drawing by William L. Brown.

Lovely library

The council could not resist the expensive beauty.

Despite earlier qualms about the increased cost, the council is panting for the twice-the-price city library renovation. Who wouldn’t fall in love once they’ve seen those smooth curves? See the new plans.

Two uncertainties need to be cleared up first. Should there be a referendum to cover the council’s butt for taking on this expense? What is the cost exactly?

The original $2.5 million renovation price and the new $5 million price or is that a $7 million price? They are like comparing apples and cranberries, said city manager Suzanne Ludlow.


Ooooo – pretty! Lukmire Partnership architectural drawing.

Yeah, there were “hard” (just the building itself) and the “soft” (all the furniture, desks, shelves, carpeting) costs. We thought that was explained before.

The $2.5 million was the hard cost of the previous renovation plan, and according to our own report of the July 13 meeting, the new one has a “ $5.3 million price tag, plus about another $1.3 million for furnishings and other Library Stuff.”

But, you’ll have to wait until the fall. The council is on August Recess.

We’ll see them in September. Bye-bye, so long, farewell!

– 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.

1 Comment on "GRANOLAPARK: Development gallops on"

  1. Steve "Pedant" Davies | July 29, 2016 at 1:35 pm |

    Return of the pedant:

    The developer even went for the “Third Option,” which is not an old Orson Wells movie.


Comments are closed.