Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fisher on Bikes, Cars and Wisconsin Ave

From Marc Fisher in the Washington Post
But reaching that goal will mean beating back the vociferous opposition to
development in many residential neighborhoods, especially in more affluent
parts of town.

"In Ward 3," Cheh says, "we're pushing in the wrong direction," a
reference to residents who lobby loudly and strongly against development
in areas such as Cleveland Park, Tenleytown and Friendship Heights.

As an example, Cheh cites the planned Commerce Bank branch on Wisconsin
Avenue on the former site of the Outer Circle movie theaters. The bank is
designed with a drive-thru--a suburban model that is exactly the opposite
of the kind of retail that the District wants to encourage. "I opposed it
because it's inappropriate development," Cheh says. That was a rare case
in which the council member found herself on the same side as neighborhood
activists who fight against what they see as moves toward unacceptably
high density. "They opposed it because they oppose things."

A few blocks south, at the controversial corner of Wisconsin and Albemarle
Street, where Mayor Adrian Fenty has been pushing for a public-private
partnership to build a public library and apartments across the street
from the Tenleytown Metro station, Cheh says the opportunity to create the
density needed to support more retail and a more walkable community
appears to be dissipating.

"It's a shame," she says, but the proposal from the developer Fenty chose,
LCOR, involves too long a delay in rebuilding the library that was torn
down four years ago. "It gets a little unrealistic. By all accounts, the
deal is falling apart. And that's too bad, because the area is a dead zone
and it doesn't have to be."

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