Saturday, April 07, 2007

Kwame Brown and NW Development

There was a previous note concerning Councilman Kwame Brown's letter to the Zoning Commission regarding the 5220 Akridge proposal in Friendship Heights.

The Progressive Review has also picked up the story:

KWAME BROWN has joined the fight against the over-developers with a letter criticizing the proposed Friendship Heights development at 5520 Wisconsin Avenue. As he points out, "the intensity of use go far beyond what would be consistent with the site's low-density commercial/medium density residential designation in the revised Plan. . . Rather than stepping down from the Regional Center, it jumps up to a height and density greater than those of most of the buildings even in the Regional Center and grossly out of scale with adjacent structures in the buffer zone. The building would have serious adverse effects on traffic, parking, and the safety and quality of life of nearby residents. . . It has been rejected twice by the ANC, it is opposed by more than 500 residents living within a 3-block radius who signed a petition against it, it is opposed by neighborhood organizations such as the Tenleytown Neighbors Association and the Alliance for Rational Development."

This posting prompted some comments such as:

It is disappointing that an At-Large representative on the city council (who ironically chairs the Economic Development Committee) would go against the tide of a huge majority of voters who supported Mary Cheh after the NIMBY camp made development the cornerstone issue in the Ward 3 race.


You gotta be kidding! And I actually voted for that joker Kwame Brown. Won't make that mistake twice. He needs to get a pulse on the real residents of NWDC, not just the same old tired whiners that run the ANCs. Talk to the voters who elected Cheh!.

The Blogger then readdressed the topic with this entry prompting these comments:

The writer cites Capitol Hill as a model of dense low-scale development. But Capitol Hill suffers from the same problem that the rest of the city has -- not enough commerce mixed in among residential neighborhoods. As I recall, one has two retail strips on Capitol Hill -- lower Penn Ave up to Eastern Market and the short strip of retail east of Union Station up to about 3rd or 4th Street, NE. That's it. If you happen to live within a few blocks of either, you're lucky. But if you live anywhere else on the Hill (say at 12th and D, NE), you've got nothing around but housing.

Great cities that are truly urban offer so many more retail amenities than Washington. And they're not just concentrated in a few 2-block retail strips miles apart on a few major streets.


...unless we go an demolish the spread out housing which exists in most of Ward 3, it doesn't have much to offer in terms of housing and retail consolidation. Therefore, why not take advantage of the few oppotunities which do exist?

I would agree that other forms of transit do more to promote the kind of vibrancy most of us desire, however it was the same generation that used "the bomb" that also decided to rip out the surface transit infrastructure.

I hope Tangherlini and Grey are successful in reinstituting rapid transit in the District, but housing such as is proposed for this site, with first floor retail makes sense. For the Chair of the Economic Development Committee of the Council to carry the water of his staffers and small but vocal minority of residents is politically idiotic.


The writer admits that the historical development in most of Ward 3 is spread out/non-compact. Given that, can they honestly say that the density along Connecticut Avenue has no impact on the village-like retail at Woodley Park, Clevleland Park and Chevy Chase?

I would posit that the apartment buildings and condos which line the Avenue have everything to do with the sustainability of those businesses. The lack of such density is part of what blights upper NW on Wisconsin Avenue.

Kwame Brown should understand this, given his position. If he doesn't, he should not be on the economic development committee, much less in the Council.

The writer clearly understands that density is vital for neighborhood serving retail (given the Capitol Hill example). He fails to make the connection between the lack of density on the Wisconsin Avenue corridor and the state of vibrancy on that street.

I would guess there may be more on this...stay tuned!


Gregory said...

fyi... roadside is trying to turn the library/school in tenleytown into a mixed dev. proposal again.. lead story in the northwest current.

DC Poster said...

Thanks, I do know of their plans and many of the specifics. I am planning on covering it once I have had a chance to see the presentation firsthand.

On first blush, it appears as if it will be a beneficial development for Tenleytown, Janney and the DCPL. The main question (among many) will be the impact on timing for reopening the Tenley DCPL branch.