Groundbreakings are never quite as exciting as officials or the press want them to be. Really they are an opportunity to get dress shoes dirty, make a few speeches and wait months for something to replace the ceremonious dirt. Today's groundbreaking at a CVS in Parkview/Petworth Community met all the aforementioned expectations, but DCMud attended, just in case something unexpected happened. Nothing did.
That said, the fulfillment of promised retail for a community long underserved is certainly something to note and a welcome sign of progress for neighbors. The CVS is the first step in a line of promised retail on the Georgia Avenue Corridor. The lot in question is at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and New Hampshire Avenue NW, across from Donatelli's Park Place and diagonal from the Georgia Avenue Metro. The space sits just on the border of Wards 1 and 4 and will serve the communities there.
The site once was home to a gas station that closed in the early 90's and the lot sat vacant until 2000 when a developer proposed a plan for a 10-story residential tower. According to Robb LaKritz, the community and the city disliked the project so much that it eventually died. In 2007 LaKritz Adler purchased the property and began the long process of working with the community, where Principal and Managing Partner Robb LaKritz lives, to pursue the type of retail the area needed. There was one major obstacle the developer had to work through with the city - the soil of the former gas station was deemed contaminated by health officials. But with some finessing and consideration for the type of tenant the developer was pursuing, LaKritz Adler and city officials were able to obtain approval for development and secure CVS as the tenant.
The 11,000 s.f. site is smaller than a typical CVS, which are usually 14,000 to 15,00 s.f. The Georgia Avenue CVS will also include a mezzanine to accommodate more space on a second floor. Construction, not yet begun, is expected to wrap up mid-2010. The project was made possible partly through a $2 million Georgia Avenue Great Streets Grant from the District, which spends approximately one-fifth of its $10 million budget for the area. The grant will be financed through TIF bonds, which make the District a development partner of sorts creating an added value for the lot in order to secure additional private financing. The TIF bond will be financed through the sales tax revenue generated by the new CVS and will expire after 25 years or when the taxes revenue fulfill the financial obligations.
So, the Mayor shoveled some rocks as he lead Councilmembers Graham and Bowser with the cheer of "1-2-3, New CVS!"