Greater Greater Washington

Development


Explore Tenleytown's successes, failures, and futures

Ward 3 has seen a lot of changes in the last few years and faces exciting opportunities for urbanization, particularly DC's highest neighborhood. Next Saturday, learn about Tenleytown's future with Ward3Vision and the Coalition for Smarter Growth.


Photo by stevesunusual on Flickr.

At the beginning of 2003, Tenleytown's retail strip was in its twentieth year of decline, with stores closing and vitality crippled by decades of persistent opposition to development. Despite sitting directly atop of a Metro station, the former Sears at the center of Tenleytown could not attract a tenant.

That year, several major retailers had moved into a subdivided Sears building, now sporting an arcing gray crown of 208 condominiums. Today, the area around the Tenleytown metro station has seen revived buildings, new restaurants, and bustling sidewalks. However, the neighborhood still has more potential than results. Public involvement is needed to carefully integrate new density into the existing neighborhoods without sacrificing either.

Next Saturday, join Ward3Vision and the Coalition for Smarter Growth for a stroll around Tenleytown. Open to all, the walking tour will visit key sites in the area, looking at current projects like the AU Law School as well as recent ones. Which projects are successful, and why? How have other projects failed at creating livable, walkable spaces?

The event will meet at the eastern entrance to the Tenleytown-AU metro station at 10am. It will run two hours and involve lots of walking. Help Ward 3 Vision by registering now and wearing comfortable footwear on the 28th. We hope to see you there!

Neil Flanagan grew up in Ward 3 before graduating from the Yale School of Architecture. He is pursuing an architecture license. He writes on architecture and Russia at цarьchitect

Comments

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They can stroll by the bright new Douglas Development without parking spots in the old Babe's Billiard location. Wait. What? You mean 10 months after approval Douglas Jamal is laughing all his way to the bank while the ANC is left with egg on its face? No plans. No announcements of future plans. No Plan to have a Plan to develop the site. But Jamal and his group get lowered property taxes even though they've not lifted a finger to develop the site. Good going Ward3Vision, GGW and ANC! A GREAT win already for developer with questionable business practices. And a GREAT victory (someday we might hope) for infill TOD. Just not anytime soon.

by Tom M on Sep 19, 2013 1:01 pm • linkreport

@Tom M:

Construction for Babe's is scheduled to begin early next year. You can email ANC 3E and find out more information but I suppose it is more enjoyable for you to rant on about this.

by 202_cyclist on Sep 19, 2013 1:13 pm • linkreport

Hey Tom. It sounds like you have a history with Douglas. Perhaps you should come to tonight's ANC3E meeting to discuss it with their representatives. I hope to see you there!

by Neil Flanagan on Sep 19, 2013 1:14 pm • linkreport

@Tom M:

This is pretty extensive for having no plans:

Transportation and Parking Assessment
http://thebondattenley.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Transporation_Plan.pdf

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/files/2011/09/2011-824-PUD-FINAL-sm-.pdf

http://app.dcoz.dc.gov/Content/Search/ViewCaseReport.aspx

Other than this, there is no plan at all.

by 202_cyclist on Sep 19, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

There were "plans" filed to get approval but there are no plans to break ground or detail drawings or a construction date set.

by tom m on Sep 19, 2013 1:35 pm • linkreport

@Tom M:

Look at the last link I posted. This is 40 pages of detailed plans. As Neil said, go to the ANC meeting tonight and I am sure you will hear about the plans to begin construction.

The upper Northwest NIMBYs also said the same thing about the Cleveland Park Giant--- that is was just some big ruse, that development wouldn't happen there. It looks like they were correct about that one as well.

by 202_cyclist on Sep 19, 2013 1:42 pm • linkreport

@202 cyclist
Unless those old rumors about World War I munitions buried at the Giant site turn out to be true.....

by Sally on Sep 19, 2013 3:19 pm • linkreport

The talk of lack of plans at the Bond site is a good example of:

Egg... Meet face.

by Kyle-w on Sep 19, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

To 202_cyclist: That third link is just a generic search link. Quick search term to find the docs? http://app.dcoz.dc.gov/Content/Search/ViewCaseReport.aspx

by Query on Sep 19, 2013 7:31 pm • linkreport

I'm Chair of ANC 3E. A Douglas Development representative appeared at our meeting tonight. He stated that Douglas expects to break ground in January 2014. They will be doing mostly foundation work inside, and expect to be ready to move to work that is primarily outdoors as the weather warms up.

The Douglas representative also said that they have been working closely with PEPCO on plans to underground the utilities around the building. Per an agreement with the ANC, Douglas committed to spend up to $600,000 toward undergrounding.

by Jonathan Bender on Sep 19, 2013 11:26 pm • linkreport

Boom! goes the dynamite.

by William on Sep 19, 2013 11:43 pm • linkreport

Based on previous development efforts in Ward 3 all I can say is "good luck" when it comes to Tenleytown. I first moved into Ward 3 in 2000 when I lived in an apartment complex near American University. I stayed there until 2009, when I purchased a condo near Takoma Park in Ward 4.

Throughout that decade I lived in the neighborhood I watched the longstanding acrimonious debate over the Giant off of Wisconsin Avenue and Newark Street. When I moved into the area they expected that construction of the new Giant would start in 2003. But thanks to lawsuit after lawsuit, constant bickering, and busybody neighbors who had nothing better to do, construction didn't start until 2012. Throughout the previous decade no design that Giant provided for the site of Cathedral Commons satisfied any of the residents. And in the process, especially after GC Murphy and that Chinese restaurant on that block closed, that block became seedy and ugly.

If the precedence with that Giant in Cleveland Park and Cathedral is any indication, I wish anyone trying to do anything in Tenleytown "good luck" because, as soon as anyone proposes any development, the do-gooder busybody neighbors will raise a stink, file lawsuit after lawsuit, and try to slow everything down. While other parts of the DC would gladly welcome development, when it comes to Ward 3, there are people who will do anything possible to keep the status quo.

by Rain17 on Sep 20, 2013 1:45 pm • linkreport

Tenleytown is such a disgrace of what could be and what is...one of the more affluent neighborhoods in the world that sits astride a township that is some sort of paean to either an incredible lack of imagination or an old world dc culture that fears any city centric development leads to a gathering of the lower class hordes. I've seen more welcoming and creative architecture in third world countries with barely a functional banking system.

by Ben on Sep 22, 2013 1:07 pm • linkreport

Are they ever going to build a new movie theater? The last of the neighborhood theaters (Cineplex Odeon) closed 7 (!) years ago.

by Chris S. on Sep 23, 2013 2:14 pm • linkreport

@ Jonathan Bender: You know of course the history of Douglas Development "announcing plans to announce plans to maybe someday commence some sort of construction." Is there any concrete consequence for Douglas Development if they DO NOT proceed with keeping their part of the generous deal the ANC approved for them?

by Tom M on Sep 23, 2013 3:55 pm • linkreport

Well nothing an ANC does is legally binding. They're just allowed to have input but the power and authority rests with the city council and zoning board. The agreements between DD and the ANC eventually have to be adopted through them and failure to adhere to any contract could only be enforced by the council or zoning board.

by drumz on Sep 23, 2013 4:19 pm • linkreport

In GGW on October 15, 2012 there was this para: "The commissioners agreed to the project only after negotiating a long list of stipulations, which they formalized as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) iINTENDED TO LEGALLY BIND THE DEVELOPER and all successive owners of the property." Only two problems. First, there was no stipulation on WHEN the project would either start or be completed. Second, there is fairly widespread discussion that the MOU of the ANC, whatever the intentions, will not be successfully enforceable. So ANC and Jon bender, now that you've talked the talk, will you walk the walk? What are you intentions regarding action if (more likely when) Douglas does not begin construction in the fashion they've announced that they'll announce to maybe consider announcing?

by Tom M on Sep 23, 2013 5:51 pm • linkreport

@Tom M:

What evidence do you have that Douglas Development does not intend to develop this valuable property on Wisconsin Avenue, next to the metro station?

by 202_cyclist on Sep 24, 2013 3:16 pm • linkreport

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