Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Walgreens 2, Neighbors 0


Despite their best efforts, the Concerned Citizens of Van Ness will be stuck with a brand new Walgreens Pharmacy at 4225 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Last week the Board of Zoning Adjustment denied an appeal by the neighbors who protested building a Walgreens next to such gems as Jerry's subs, Embassy Cleaners and a parking deck. The initial design was "suburban," sitting back from the street with a parking lot in the front. After negative initial responses from neighbors and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), the Walgreens design team revamped the plans twice, and in April of last year, the BZA approved plans for a store that sits closer to the street and has below-grade parking, but construction has been stalled by continued community objections.

On a strip rife with commercial buildings, neighbors of the Connecticut Avenue site, currently a gas station, were unhappy with the plans after design adjustments to facilitate a so-called "urban environment." Neighbors were concerned about additional traffic from the new store and problems associated with loading. Requests for additional greenery were met to an extent, though a green oasis, it is not.

The 20,000 s.f. store, designed by Rust Orling Architects, will sit a mere 50 feet from the Van Ness Metro Station and will provide 27 spaces of parking on one level beneath the store. The application required a variance and reduction from the zoning requirement for 57 spaces. The Zoning Commission approval references "other parking alternatives" at the neighboring Giant and CVS. Ah yes, Walgreens customers can use parking at a competitor's neighboring store, which offers the same products and prices. It is the second controversial Walgreens to open on that stretch of Connecticut, the first having replaced the beloved Yenching Palace restaurant in Cleveland Park.

Washington, DC real estate development news

17 comments:

MtPleasant said...

75 feet from the Metro...and 80 feet from a CVS! Come on, why the compulsion to have a drugstore on every block? This will definitely screw up traffic in an already-congested area AND it's not necessary. Keep up the fight, Van Ness community!

Anonymous said...

So sad that people have the time to fight for a cause and then let this happen.

Anonymous said...

This horrible drugstore will absolutely destroy the historic charm of main street Van Ness. Outrageous!

Anonymous said...

So much the better to destroy the nearby CVS. Do they offer anything other than slow lines and a monopoly? I relish the competition.

Anonymous said...

It's better than the gas station that's there at present.

David on May 13, 2010, 11:24:00 AM said...

Walgreens is so much better than CVS, this should be a welcome addition. CVS's are more common than Starbucks in DC; you can see another CVS from most CVS's! DC needs choice.

Joel on May 13, 2010, 11:40:00 AM said...

"why the compulsion to have a drugstore on every block? This will definitely screw up traffic in an already-congested area AND it's not necessary."

I can't speak to the traffic planning, but what agency is charged with the responsibility of determining whether or not similar retail can exist and compete close to one another? This strikes me as an absurd suggestion, that the city should somehow prevent a competing pharmacy from opening near an existing pharmacy. Was this actually one of the motivations of the resident opposition?

Anonymous said...

Historic charm of main street Van Ness? You mean the vacant gas station with the orange fence around it? Jerry's subs? The constantly revolving restaurant next to Jerry's? Puh-lease. The real traffic problems in Van Ness are caused by the UDC students who don't know how to cross at the crosswalk.

Anonymous said...

i agree about HISTORIC VAN NESS? the community has a real opportunity to make this area innovative and different than cookie cutter clarendon or rambunctious rosslyn. make bold choices here, people! the building (not necessarily the store) will be there for a very long time.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure the "Historic Main Street Van Ness" person was kidding.

zzindc on May 13, 2010, 2:27:00 PM said...

This sounds to me like a big WIN for the 'urban envornment' in Van Ness: a commercial building is going to be built in a commercial area - exactly the area you would expect and want to be 'rife with commercial buildings'. Who would expect a 'green oasis' in a commercial area? Beyond that the design has been altered to put the parking underground, thereby making the structure less 'suburban'. To be honest I think this entire post should be re-written as an example of how puublic participation can positively influence the development process. The 'Concerned Citizens of Van Ness' (whoever they are) should declare victory and be satisfied with the results.

Joel on May 13, 2010, 3:14:00 PM said...

Also wondering if one even has to ask which brings more vehicular activity per hour or day: pharmacy, or the former gas station?

Anonymous said...

The usual issue with 'concerned citizens' is that they don't come to the table with anything in mind but to fight those on the other side. Go to the table with a reasonable goal in mind, not to simply be an obstructionist because you don't like it. You can't fight a property owner developing their property within their rights (zoning), and should be appreciative when they are willing to go back and redesign (at their own expense) to please the citizens. You don't get to pick who your neighbors are, you can only ensure they play by the same rules all the other property owners have to adhere to.

Anonymous said...

Like the development at Harrison and Wisconsin, the TD Bank across from the Safeway on Wisconsin, or what Safeway itself is trying to do at Ellicot Street, this is simply a colossal waste. A prime retail spot atop a metro station and the community is stuck with a marginally improved suburban style convenience store.

This should be a 5-9 story building with a variety of apartments or condos, with the Walgreens as anchor retail on the street.

Bravo for the ANC for trying to get something that will bring revenue to the city both in the form of retail AND new residents.

Anonymous said...

yeah with the last post... for the sure the shame is in only building a walgreens box and not folding it into a larger building with office, resi on top. now thats your urban approach. who cares about competing pharmacies- thats hardly an argument.

perhaps pursuing urban design guidelines that lock in rules regarding density, character, and quality for future development is in order for the main strip of van ness.

Anonymous said...

With respect to the last two posts, the neighbors complaint has been that the project is too big and will bring too much traffic. Those don't sound like people who'd be open to a 5-9 story building. This project is a major improvement over the previous gas station, increases density and stays within the neighborhood scale.

new laurel resident on May 24, 2010, 1:31:00 AM said...

You move into a highrise apartment building in a commercially dense neighborhood across from a major university that spews out thousands of student foot traffic a day and you complain about potential traffic issues and congestion?
The gas station caused way more traffic, loud rap music playing cars than the walgreens ever will.
GET OVER IT!!!!!!!!!

 

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