Yesterday evening, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4A held a Special Public meeting to discuss two important development issues on the Walter Reed campus. This was the final meeting for ANC 4A before their summer recess.
The topics that were covered included:
- Design Concept – Walter Reed Townhomes (Buildings W, X, Y)
- Demolition of Building 38, Parks at Walter Reed
The most interesting aspect of this meeting was that it was held on the Walter Reed campus in one of the Officer’s Quarters buildings. There was a last minute conflict with the use of the community room at the MPD Fourth District Headquarters due to today’s primary election.
After nearly two hours of discussion, there were only a few new, interesting factoids revealed:
The number of townhouse units that the developer is voluntarily contributing as affordable is four (4 out of approximately 60 units). The neighboring S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat) project far exceeds the amount of affordable housing that the master developer is required to place in that zone.
The Certified Business Enterprise Report that the master developer submitted is broken down into “hard costs” and “soft costs”. Last night we learned the definitions of those terms. “Hard costs” are anything to do with construction. “Soft Costs” are all other expenses, including design, engineering, marketing, outreach, and master developer costs. The commissioners pretty aggressive about ensuring that local city and Ward 4 businesses benefit from this major investment.
The humorous moment of the meeting came as several commissioners expressed concerns over the proposed 10 foot wide hiker – biker trails along Aspen Street NW and Main Drive (inside the campus). Separate bikes lanes are preferred and some fear that the combined paths would be too narrow to accommodate both bikes and pedestrians. Chairman Steve Whatley explained, “Think about the Hiker – Biker trail in Martha’s Vineyard along the Coastal Highway between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown…”
To this, Commissioner Marlene Moss of 4A07 responded, “But those bikers are so much more polite.” The room erupted into laughter, both at the Cmr. Moss’ comment on biker etiquette and the absurdity that enough people were familiar with the bike path on Martha’s Vineyard that the comparison settled the question.
Brightwood resident Wendell Joice posted the following questions on the community listserv before the meeting. I believe that managing director Vicky Davis answered all of them to one degree or another. Your mileage may vary:
- Will the development’s density be a problem for townhouse residents?
- Answer: The development has a very “urban” footprint, with no backyards and very small fronts. It will be reminiscent of rowhomes on Capitol Hill.
- Guest Parking?
- Answer: Each home will have a one- or two-space garage. New parallel parking for visitors will be available along the newly widened Aspen Street and Luzon Avenue. In addition, there are 450 parking spaces available under nearby Building 14. These are spaces which will likely never be used by the residents there, so they may be offered as paid visitor parking.
- Is there market information to support whether proximity to affordable housing will hamper sales?
- Answer: There is almost nothing the developer could do to hamper sales of these units. If the developer can deliver these homes at the $700k – $1M price point within the next 18 months, they will be sold as fast as they can be built. Demand in this area is that strong.
- Since this is somewhat of a change from previous plans, will developers prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS)?
- Answer: This plan is a step down from the density that the site is zoned for. The original plans called for a multi-family building. There will not be a supplemental EIS.
- The existing traffic analysis is based on contractor use of outdated software. If a supplemental EIS is prepared, would the developer insist that updated software be used?
- Answer: Last night Vicky Davis stated that every intersection around the site received a grade of “B, C, or D”. The city average for intersections is an “F” grade. There are no plans for an additional traffic study.
The commission voted 7-0 to support the concept of the townhouse development.
The commission voted 6-1 to support the demolition of Building 38 (Cmr. Lincoln voted against).
Outside of Single Member District meetings, I believe that this was the Commission’s last public meeting until September.