A post on the Tenleytown Listserv shouts "Safeway forced to add residential?":
I've heard an ugly rumor that our "Stealth Safeway" (there is the Social Safeway and the Geriatric Giant at Western, after all) is being steered toward building residential above their footprint. Also, this rumor included some business oriented effort to put more rowhouses in the existing parking lot and create an easement with GDS. I hope this isn't true, ironically the rowhouses are the most affected and have the strangest zoning allowed in DC anyhow, we sure don't need that and 3-4 stories above Safeway. All this would surely open the door to Martin's and we've been down that road."
In order to appreciate this post, one has to understand that the "Alliance for Rational Development" showered its support for this project in September. Why? Because, with the exception of the immediate neighbors, the Safeway proposal offers minimal change to a suburban style grocery store in the heart of Tenleytown. The lot has two zoning elements, the map indicates that the Wisc/42nd Street frontage is C-2A, while the parking lot is R-3:
C-2A: Permits matter-of-right low density development, including office, retail, and all kinds of residential uses to a maximum lot occupancy of 60% for residential use, a maximum FAR of 2.5 for residential use and 1.5 FAR for other permitted uses, and a maximum height of fifty (50) feet;
R-3 is Permits matter-of-right development of single-family residential uses (including detached, semi-detached, and row dwellings), churches and public schools with a minimum lot width of 20 feet, a minimum lot area of 2,000 square feet, a maximum lot occupancy of 60% for row dwellings, a minimum lot width of 30 feet and a minimum lot area of 3000 square feet and 40% lot occupancy for semi-detached structures, and a minimum lot width of 40 feet and a minimum lot area of 4000 square feet and 40% lot occupancy for detached structure; and a maximum height of three (3) stories/forty (40) feet.
So the claim in the initial post on the Listserv, that "we sure don't need that and 3-4 stories above Safeway" is interesting. 3-4 stories of residential above the Safeway would be less than what "Matter of Right" would be for this parcel. For years, the forces of "no change" in the community have lauded "Matter of Right" development for the community. Such advocacy has landed the new bank at Ellicot and Wisconsin and the Abdo development at Harrison and Wisconsin. Neither of these are particularly compelling additions to the community in terms of placemaking or amenity.
ANC 3E Chair Jonathan Bender noted,
As a matter of right, Safeway could put at least 3 to 4 stories of housing over the building at the front of the lot and townhouses at the back of the lot. For so many years we have heard the alphabet soup of "alliances" and "associations" in the neighborhood say that what the neighborhood needs is matter of right development, and that they don't fight matter of right development because it is "rational."
Even the Zoning Commission asked the question of Safeway regarding the lack of density or a housing component. It will be interesting to see if Safeway is willing to make alterations to its proposal or simply take the easy path of a 1950's style development in this era of sustainable urban communities. It will also be interesting to see if the ARD would oppose a "Matter of Right" development proposal?