Van Ness Walgreens' drive-thru isn't even the worst part
As I reported last week, Walgreens is proposing a new store with a drive-thru and 27 parking spaces on the former site of a gas station at Veazey and Connecticut, right by the Van Ness Metro.
The drive-thru, while a bad idea, isn't even the worst part of this proposal. It is a cookie-cutter suburban design plunked down in the city right next to a Metro station. Instead of siting the building against the sidewalk to draw in pedestrians, they place it near the back of the lot, with only the narrow drive-thru lane separating the building from its neighbor. In front, they propose a row of parking along Connecticut Avenue and run the ramp down to an underground parking level along the Veazey Terrace frontage. There's even a free-standing sign at the corner to complete the suburban feel.
The building is colored red in the above picture, and the yellow shows land devoted to driving or parking inside the lot. Here are the complete original plans: ground level, basement parking level, and upper level.
Instead, they should put the building right at the corner of Connecticut and Veazey, extending all the way across that edge of the lot. There should be only a single car entrance, off Veazey or the alley, accessing parking (if necessary) behind, with the ramp to the lower level also located behind.
Fortunately, good-DDOT is coming to the rescue, strongly opposing the parking in front. Apparently the Walgreens planned to go before the BZA, but withdrew when they found out DDOT would oppose the drive-thru. They are now pursuing their options for matter-of-right development. That's too bad, because not only is the drive-thru a bad idea, but the reduced parking and greater density they were seeking could have generated a better and more urban project.
The latest parking zoning draft would, among other changes, forbid development like this which places parking between the building and the street. The commercial working groups haven't yet met, but there's a good chance drive-thru development may also be disallowed, or at least require BZA hearings and public participation to approve one.
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