IMAGE: The NDC Takoma Junction redevelopment space, extending from the Takoma Auto Clinic to the edge of the TPSS Co-op building.
ONE TAKOMA • SETH GRIMES
Neighborhood Development Company will acquire the Takoma Auto Clinic property at 7221 Carroll Avenue, adjacent to the Takoma Junction city lot NDC is slated to redevelop, adding 5,740 sq. ft. to the redevelopment parcel. This new deal and the failure of negotiations with the TPSS Co-op – the co-op had hoped to expand into the planned NDC building but the parties couldn’t agree on terms – have led NDC to request more time to develop a final concept plan for the site. Takoma Park City Manager Suzanne Ludlow has granted that request. NDC is now slated to present its plan to the city council in late September.
These developments create new revitalization possibilities. NDC will revisit configuration of space on the first floor of the building, space that had been allocated to co-op expansion, and may choose to expand the new building’s footprint. One possibility, I hope, is the inclusion of senior-targeted, affordable apartments on the building’s second floor.
NDC’s first building concept plan, presented to the city council in September 2014, included apartments. I was a councilmember at the time, and NDC’s proposed mixed-use design – residential and community uses above ground-level commercial space, with underground parking – was one of several reasons I favored NDC’s proposal. My council colleagues and I voted in 2015 to select NDC as the city’s Takoma Junction development partner.
Designs change, however, and NDC founder and CEO Adrian Washington explained, “We took out the apartments because, given the small size of the project, doing mixed used would add too much cost and complexity without providing the benefits that mixed use can provide.”
Now there’s more space. Unfortunately, news of NDC’s acquisition of the Takoma Auto Clinic parcel emerged after completion of a community consultation process that surveyed area stakeholders about site design and use. Findings can and should nonetheless inform NDC’s creation of a final concept plan.
I estimate that the site could house sixteen apartments, given the added space and the eleven units in NDC’s 2014 concept design.
Why housing in Takoma Junction? The area is highly walkable and bikeable and is served by Metrobus and RideOn. Apartments could be built without residential parking, boosting affordability and negating the traffic impact that would stem from current plans for second-floor offices.
Takoma Junction housing is in line with Age-Friendly Montgomery goals and with Montgomery County’s Senior Agenda‘s housing vision: “Montgomery County will promote choices of dwelling types so that as the needs and preferences of older adults change, they can age in place, downsize, choose rental or ownership, or find housing with the appropriate level of supportive services without having to leave the community.”
The Village of Takoma Park has been particularly active, locally, in promoting “aging in community.” Rental is high-demand option, including for those downsizing from single-family homes. The recently released Montgomery County Rental Housing Study notes that “adults (55 and older) account for one quarter of all renter householders.” Affordability is critical and should be a primary consideration in all housing discussions. Negotiation of a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) would provide a mechanism for the county and city to support the affordability goal.
There will be further Takoma Junction redevelopment opportunities. RS Automotive, across from the city lot, is no longer selling gasoline and will focus on auto repair. The pumps and underground fuel storage tanks will be removed in the coming months according to owner Depeswar Doley, who has already been approached regarding commercial uses of his property’s Carroll Avenue frontage.
And a new pedestrian crosswalk at Grant Avenue, long in the works, should be completed soon, boosting Takoma Junction walkability.
Situations evolve. NDC now has expanded Takoma Junction redevelopment space to work with, reopening an early-but-abandoned possibility: Takoma Junction housing, senior-targeted and preferably affordable. A natural for a diverse, vibrant, aging-friendly Takoma Park?