Friday, October 02, 2009

Giant Controversy on Wisconsin Ave Development


On Thursday, the Zoning Commission reconsidered several elements of the previously approved application for the planned Giant grocery store and surrounding redevelopment. The Commission approved the Planned Unit Development (PUD) for Friendship-McComb SC, Inc. along with their developer, Street-Works, in July, but both the community and the developer took issue with parts of the Commission's decision. Prior to last night's hearing, the Wisconsin-Newark Neighbors Coalition (WNNC) had filed a lawsuit to prevent the project, challenging, as they had previously, the Zoning Commission's authority to make the zoning amendment.


The development will replace the abandoned 1950's era G.C. Murphy Co. store and existing Giant, which will yield to a proposed 55,000-s.f. grocery and additional retail, residential, and office component. Parent company Stop & Shop owns the site bounded by Idaho Avenue, Wisconsin Avenue, and Macomb Street and divided by Newark Street, all of which now contains a mostly-abandoned, one-story retail and surface parking.

According to Sharon Robinson, a Consultant for the Giant Team, Giant requested more "specific language that would facilitate evaluation of compliance" with the approval. In July the Commission order stated, "the applicant shall also fulfill any other commitment or promise it made as referenced in the findings of facts above, even if not specifically stated in one of the above conditions." Surprisingly, developers found that language vague. The request was deferred until the October 19th meeting, with the Commission asking the applicant and the community to define “off peak hours” in relation to a parking discrepancy.

WNNC's beef with the Commission, besides its alleged lack of authority, has to do with

residential parking permits. The group requested that the Commission consider, again, the amount of planned parking. Previously, the District Department of Transportation, the Office of Planning and the Zoning Commission staff all agreed that the residential parking provided (1 per unit in the multi-family residential and 2 per townhouse) was more than adequate. But the appeal received a big ole "Denied" stamp last night.

In response to the lawsuit, Giant posted a statement on its website saying they were not surprised a suit was filed, given the contentious nature of the PUD process. They say the appeal is subject to a judicial process that could take"two or more years to complete." Giant reaffirmed its commitment to the new store as well as to the large group within the community who supports the new development.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Giant should just vacate the property and relocate to another neighborhood. The vocal neighbors who are against any form of progress will never stop. The best approach for Giant and the District is to let the properties go vacant and become the new blight of the city. After they see their property values decrease they'll welcome any form of development for that site.

Anonymous said...

Seriously - I lived across from that Giant in 2003-2004 and they were hoping to start those renovations any day now. Enough is enough - what exactly are these neighbors trying to preserve? A brick box? The alcove where the crazy guy yells at people from? What a joke - that site makes that whole neighborhood look terrible.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with both of the anons comments. I don't even bother to go to the last of the restaurants hanging on in that area. DC is a urban, international, metropolitan city and for those who think their neighborhoods need to remain in the 1950's era lined with white picket fences are just out of touch and should consider moving to any of the "burgs" or "vills". Smart growth should not be delayed because of ignorant neighbors against any form of change PERIOD.

Green Cleveland Park on Oct 4, 2009, 9:39:00 AM said...

The empty store fronts on Wisconsin Avenue were the result of Ahold's decision to throw its other tenants out in 2001 Then in 2002 Ahold signed an agreement with the Mayor, the Office of Planning and the Cleveland Park Citizens Association to build a new state of the art grocery store. Why didn't Ahold build a new store then? In 2006 Ahold proposed a PUD that met with widesspread support and avoided many of the problems (the loading dock next to existing residences on Idaho for example) that were raised before the Zoning Commission this time. Why didn't Ahold built then?

Green Cleveland Park on Oct 4, 2009, 9:50:00 AM said...

It's interesting to note the results of the hard-fought Cleveland Park Citizens Association, in which the Unity team won by what the Northwest Current termed a "decisive margin" over the Reform slate, which consisted largely of individuals who had closely as the AWARE group with Ahold's lawyers and pr flacks. In doing so, voters chose to restore civil discourse to the neighborhood's strong tradition of civil involvement, and rejected by a substantial margin the personal attack politics and polarization that AWARE brought to the Ahold debate. The new CPCA leadership reflects diverse perspectives and differing points of view on some neighborhood issues, but is committed to respectful dialogue and finding common ground.

The now not-so-silent majority sided with leadership that called for measured, thoughtful growth that respects the neighborhood's historic character and urban village setting, rather than for significant development dressed up as "smart growth" which the Reform AWARE candidates advocated. As the issue was framed in the campaign, what was the better model for the Cleveland Park commercial area: Chevy Chase DC or Bethesda? Members also sided for the candidates who advocated for preservation of the neighborhood commercial overlays which AWARE tried to make an issue in the election.

Anonymous said...

Green Cleveland Park-- what a misnomer your name is. You'd think it is 'green' to replace the large surface parking lot and auto dependent development with more housing in a transit-accessible area with a mix of uses so that residents have other options than driving everywhere. I suppose you think it is better to leave this otherwise affluent section of Northwest a blighted, stagnant stretch on what is a major transportation corridor. Opposing this development will only create more traffic, more air pollution, and more sprawl elsewhere. That does not seem too 'Green' to me.

Anonymous said...

Green Cleveland Park-- I have no idea what the model for development is for the supporters of the Giant project but Bethesda has decent restaurants, lively street activity, is accessible to pedestrians, and has sufficient retail options that ensures their sales tax stays there instead of going to neighboring jurisdictions. If you want to see closed storefronts and are happy driving elsewhere to meet daily needs, then continue to oppose this development.

Anonymous said...

Green Cleveland Park-- what do you think is a better model for the Cleveland Park commercial area: Ashburn or Sterling?

I suppose you would like to see amenities like better libraries, improved schools, and good police and fire service in the District. The income taxes from new residents goes to pay for these services that long-time residents such as yourself enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I want to jump on the band wagon bashing Green Clev Park. Move to Sterling and let the urban areas become urban. Dc is so far behind other cities about approving density on transit hubs.

Anonymous said...

What the old timers can't seem to fathom is that denser development will actually reduce car use. If I can live and shop at the Giant site I don't have to drive as much. Additionally, more residents and businesses along Wisconsin Ave. means more bus riders and more bus riders leads to more bus service. An upward spiral of benefits.

Anonymous said...

I'm still confused as to why and Cleveland Park neighborhood association would carry such weight in this debate. Afterall, The Giant isn't actually in Cleveland Park. Sure, it's across the street from what they claim is Cleveland Park, but really? It's not Cleveland Park.

 

DCmud - The Urban Real Estate Digest of Washington DC Copyright © 2008 Black Brown Pop Template by Ipiet's Blogger Template