Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Giant Project on Wisconsin

The long-awaited Giant grocery store and surrounding redevelopment, expected to bring life back to its location on Wisconsin Avenue near the National Cathedral, is a bit closer to becoming reality. Street-Works, the development and consulting firm heading the project, has said it is ready to move forward on the project and will file its zoning application within the next 60 days.
The development (rendering above) 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 one-story retail, albeit partially abandoned, and surface parking.

"This project redevelops the site, which is pretty much functionally obsolete," Richard Heapes, principal at Street-Works, said. "It turns it into a pedestrian-oriented part of the neighborhood with wide sidewalks, trees, public spaces, and most importantly, a state-of-the-art grocery store. At the end of the day, it completes what is already there and brings it up to date."

The site is divided into two parcels: On the south side of Newark, developers will tear down the current Giant and construct a more modern facility in its place, as well as add 42,000 s.f. of small retail shops and office space. The block will also receive 21 residential units; 13 above the retail and eight townhouses along Idaho Ave. On the north side of Newark, developers are planning 30,000 s.f. of street-level retail with 124 residential units on the four upper floors. The retail will most likely be similar to what currently exists: service and convenience stores as well as neighborhood- serving restaurants. According to the developers, some of the current retailers will relocate to these new building. 400 new underground parking spots will serve the whole site.

Sizes and costs of the individual residential units are premature, but 10% will most likely be designated as affordable housing. And what new development would be complete without some green? Pedestrian- friendly public spaces are being designed to grace Idaho Ave. and Newark St. with trees, fountains, and places to sit. Street-Works is still deciding which green components to add to their buildings, which could include green roofs on the residential units. According to George Idelson, president of the Cleveland Park Citizens Association, "One of the things the community wanted was a lively streetscape. That is what the plan calls for, and it seems to be doing a pretty good job with that."

The old neon Giant sign will be incorporated into the new construction - a condition of the neighborhood association, reflecting their opinion that it has become an icon for the area. Developers are also aiming to fit the project in, architecturally speaking, with the existing buildings. "The design came from picking up the style that is already there in the adjoining neighborhood," Heapes said. "It is contextual. My goal for the project is to make sure people aren't going to look at the site as a project that is sitting in the middle of Cleveland Park."

The existing 18,500-s.f. Giant will stay open as long as possible until construction of the actual grocery store begins. After the application process, formal public hearings will take place, along with an open house meeting for any interested neighbors that will be hosted by Street-Works on the site itself. Idelson said this is just what the neighborhood needs: another chance to weigh-in. "I think generally speaking based on the public meetings, the neighborhood is anxious to have a new store," he said.
Street-Works hopes to have approval from the District by the end of the year with construction beginning in mid-2009. Construction will be phased, with the south parcel finishing before the north begins, altogether lasting 24 to 36 months.


Anonymous said...

i'm excited about the new project, but i'm still kinda sad to see the old craphole go away. i used to shop at the G.C. Murphy store for cheap planters and stuff, and the big parking lot was fine by me. it was fun finding parking at one end, and running in the sun all the way to the Giant. there's even a little sneaky pathway from the lot to the cactus cantina restaurant - which is AWESOME, by the way. i hope they don't go away.

but... it's about time. at least they won't get rid of the psychic place across the street from this development. the lady lives there, and will likely be there until she dies.

bye bye old space, check you later, new space.

Anonymous said...

Wow... finally some progress. I wrote this project off a long time ago. Cant believe it's moving forward. What the hell took so long??

IMGoph on Apr 23, 2008, 11:13:00 PM said...

hope this doesn't get held up in crap and red tape like the o street market was for so long...

Anonymous said...

This is a development that when built the residents of Cleveland Park will be proud.

Ken on Apr 24, 2008, 5:52:00 AM said...

poo poo,

your sentimentality over the loss of the abandoned junk store is touching, we here at DCMud can appreciate your attachment to buildings. But driving down Wisconsin, that whole strip remains a cataract for the neighborhood, so we know you agree that the sooner the cranes come, the better. Let the neighborhood show their support for this project.

Anonymous said...

Wow, amazing. That area has been the same ever since I was a kid. I am very happy to see some positive developments there. It looks rather ghetto right now.

Anonymous said...

Message to the community....don't let the ANC screw this up again.

Isn't it ironic that the ANC fought the original proposal, and this one has significantly more density.

This project cannot get completed soon enough.

Anonymous said...

This design actually seems MUCH better than the original proposal from, what, 10 years ago?

It's time something was done and I sure hope they get this started soon.

Anonymous said...

My impression is that many in Cleveland Park want to see a better store but are looking to the developer and the city's Planning Office and DDOT for some serious traffic calming so that the side streets are not overwhelmed. Look to see some of the tools that they use in Clarendon and Bethesda, so that development takes place on the main avenues but the residential side streets are protected from lots of cross-traffic. If the city can figure out how to do this, then the project approvals should go pretty smoothly. Otherwise....

At the end of the day, Giant will probably have to cut back the number of new housing units somewhat (developer started with 34, now proposes 145) and cut the height of its building. But assuming that Giant does so and it and the city pay for some meaningful traffic calming on the nearby side streets, I see the project being built substantially as proposed.

Anonymous said...

Why should the number of housing units or height be cut? This is a 5 story development proposal ON Wisconsin Avenue.

Further, the community and Ward 3 NEEDS inclusionary housing. This is an opportunity to achieve that (there aren't many).

Finally, what traffic will be generated that isn't already there? 10 years ago, there was a lack of grocery stores prompting fears that this store would become a destination. In that time, the Whole Foods at P Street and Tenley (much less Friendship Heights, which is under construction now) have all opened. There are the renovated GIANTs at Van Ness and Friendship Heights, and the addition of Harris Teeter in Adams Morgan.

No, this is a neighborhood serving store which needs to be dramatically improved. The added streetscape vibrancy due to the density will make it more attractive.

Anonymous said...

Giant/Stop n Shop's traffic own traffic projections are showing that traffic will more than double as a result of the development. Given that Giant's projections use assumptions and data that are most favorable to its position, this should be viewed as a conservative, "best case" number. Remember, this cannot be viewed as transit oriented development, as it is not near a Metro stop, Again, if Giant cuts the density slightly and the city implements the traffic calming mitigation measures that the new Comprehensive Plan prescribes, then the project can be a win for the developer and the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, I thought the bus was considered transit. I guess the term needs to be changed to "Metro Oriented Development"?

How many people who live in McLean Gardens/Vaughn Place walk or take the shuttle to the Cleveland Park metro every day?

They leased out the balance of the 300 some odd residences there and there has been nary a blip in parking or traffic impact.

Get over it, this proposal is a good one and should be supported by the community as is.

Anonymous said...

"Get over it, this proposal is a good one and should be supported by the community as is."

All people want is for the provisions of the Comprehensive Plan to be implemented that address the effects of major commercial development on the residential side streets. The Metro 30s line, with its decades-old bunching of buses is a joke, and the current service certainly does not support the density of "transit oriented development." With slightly less density and some significant traffic calming on the side streets, the Giant project can go forward pretty easily.

But don't just dismiss legitimate concerns about traffic, parking, etc. with "Get over it." The Cleveland Park Historic District neighborhood is the way it is because folks care about it not being overwhelmed -- and have a very effective track record in doing something about it. Remember the defeat of huge development planned for McLean Gardens in the 60s/70s; the preservation of the low-scale commercial district and the Park n Shop over Van Ness-like development proposed on Connecticut Avenue in the 80s; the preservation of the Rosedale and Tregaron properties against intentive development more recently; and finally, the opposition to the Giant project 8 years ago?

CP is not Ward 8 with one supermarket -- there are lot's of retail offerings in the area. I think most Cleveland Parkers want a better Giant, but are not so desperate that they'll have it at any price. With some easy fixes, the project can move forward quickly. Otherwise it will face some difficulty.

Anonymous said...

Last time I checked this proposed development did not lie in the Historic District boundaries, and the ploy to landmark this property will probably be laughed out like it was before.

You want to talk about activism? Let's talk about the divisive opposition to the NCS gym, or the previous incarnation of this discussion.

This proposal is for 5 stories on one portion of the development, it isn't like a 12 story monolith. And, compare that to the highrises across Wisconsin Avenue, or the building within McLean Gardens.

This is not a big proposal, but it is long overdue, and to cite the above poster who noted the irony that this proposal is far more dense than the one from 10 years ago.

I guess we'll see whether this is met with fierce opposition or some of the cranky old-timers who are losing their grip on fighting this kind of proposal.

It is simply environmentally irresponsible to limit density in an urban setting.

Anonymous said...

Traffic calming in the surrounding neighborhoods I can agree with - we want to incentivise folks to use the main streets to access the development, but seeking to reduce the density of this project is counter-intuitive. We want to increase vibrancy in urban areas, not limit it. If the project can accommodate the necessary retail and residential parking in a way that orients access to that parking to the main streets, the proposed scale and density are more than acceptable. More residents = more tax revenue = more $$ for improvements to the bus system.

Those that support this project should mark their calendars and attend all associated public hearings to voice their support and esure that the misinformed/NIMBY minority do not get to shape the public perception for this development.

Anonymous said...

I don't look forward to increased congestion along Wisconsin Ave. (by bus or car). But this project is long overdue because the current "grocery store" occupying the site is so bad that -- while I live about 1 mile away -- I refuse to patronize it. No carts + no customer service = big problem!

Anonymous said...

To be honest, it would be best if Giant let another grocer take over the space. The run-down store is not just the result of Giant's lack of investment over the years, but also simple mismanagement. For example, store employees apparently are allowed to take smoking breaks at the front entrance, which is a real turn-off for non-smokers. Recently, we observed a customer in line who discovered that the loaf of bread she was preparing to buy had been gnawed. The cashier seemed unsurprised and said it must be the rats!

Trader Joes or a similar grocer would probably be a better fit for the demographics of the surrounding area. TJ's Foggy Bottom store actually is smaller than the present Cleveland Park Giant, but seems much better stocked (with better prices on some items), proving that better doesn't always have to be a lot bigger. (There are Whole Foods stores about one mile north and south of the CP Giant, so that chain would not be a fit.) Giant lost a lot of its neighborhood customers 10 years ago, and then lost a bunch more when the Beverly nursing home across the street folded, and the large staff that used to shop there dispersed. Giant will have to work hard at winning back its market. But I suspect that Stop n Shop sees the project more as a "town center" development than as a grocery store opportunity.

Sam Olmstead on Aug 13, 2009, 10:31:00 AM said...

Cleveland park must be proud for this project. I hope this project will gonna be perfect. The design is great, good luck to the developers.

-Sam Olmstead

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