Hello neighbors! Here are my notes and highlights from last night’s ANC 4A meeting at Shepherd Elementary School. It was a doozey.
There and Back Again
Nineteen months after signaling its support for the Douglas/Harris Teeter development at Eastern Avenue and Kalmia Road, a coordinated opposition convinced a befuddled Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4A to “rescind” its support for an alley closing requested by the project’s developer.
30 second background:
Douglas Development plans to construct a mixed-use building on a 2-acre site bounded by Eastern Avenue, Georgia Avenue, Alaska Avenue and Kalmia Road NW in Shepherd Park. The project will include around 200 apartments and approx. 50,000 sf retail, anchored by a new Harris Teeter supermarket. Some in the community support this development; others don’t. The property has a city-owned “alley” which bisects the current building’s parking lot. In order to construct the building as designed with underground parking, Douglas Development needs to have that (non-existent) alley closed. City Council action is required to do this. In September of 2015, ANC 4A voted to support this closure. Councilmember Todd introduced a bill (B22-0057) in January to effect this change and it is currently being considered by the Council.
During Tuesday night’s Community Concerns period, three neighbors stood to speak to their (perfectly legitimate) opposition to the project. Construction management and traffic highlighted the list of concerns. But then, Commissioner Stacey Lincoln introduced a motion to “rescind” the ANC’s support for “sixty days”. This sent Chairman Whatley reaching for his copy of Robert’s Rules of Order to figure out if that was even allowable. After a brief period of muddled debate, and no opportunity for opposing voices or the property owner to speak, the Commission voted to “rescind” its support of the alley closure. This letter will be added to the official Council Record, which remains open until April 13th.
Needless to say, this was not the finest hour for local democratic action.
CM Brandon Todd was present and gave some brief remarks. The highlight of his comments was the revelation that Mayor Bowser included construction funding for both the Shepherd Elementary (complete) Modernization ($10 million) and Coolidge High School Modernization ($115 million). CM Todd made the salient point that he has done his part by lobbying the Mayor to include these highly desired funds; now it is up to us as citizens and parents to speak out and protect these line items as they move through the budget process.
Representatives from the Walter Reed master developer, Hines/Urban Atlantic/ Triden were on hand to present a conceptual design for the 280 apartments and and 80 condos that will be sited at the corner of Aspen Street and Georgia Avenue. There will be roughly 400 underground parking spaces.
Neighbors who currently live in the blocks immediately south of this location were not impressed. They expressed concerns about the affects additional cars parking on their neighborhood streets. Discussion of this project will continue at a special meeting later in April.