Greater Greater Washington

Takoma Metro development proposal is a real compromise

For more than 10 years, we've discussed what kind of development at the Takoma Metro station would make this station a lively, safer place. A new plan for a residential building does just that, while offering a compromise to neighbors concerned about open space and parking.


Photo by tracktwentynine on Flickr.

Since 2000, WMATA has attempted to develop the area around the Takoma station. Last year, developer EYA proposed building about 200 apartments on a surface parking lot. The building would have 3 stories on Eastern Avenue and step up to 4 toward the train tracks. It would replace most of the parking, only about half of which is used at one time.

The plan keeps the existing 2.5 acre green space open, and offers some enhancements to make it more usable. The proposed building and residents overlooking the site will help foster a safer, more pedestrian-friendly environment by orienting the building to the bus drive, with entrances and windows facing the lane. Previous plans for live-work units or retail space have been dropped because of the weak market for retail at the site.

A 2006 plan that later stalled out offered about 90 townhouses and a one acre village green, but no replacement for the Metro parking, which is only for short term use. While the attractive townhouse and inviting village green were worth pursuing, I always thought this site would be better for an apartment building.


Image from EYA.

Then and now, some neighbors in both Takoma and the adjacent city of Takoma Park, which sits across Eastern Avenue, have opposed the project. In 2006, both supporters and opponents gave the developer grief about building homes with 2-car garages at a Metro station. But many critics also said that WMATA should replace all of the existing parking, in addition to preserving the whole 2.5 acre open space in front of the station and adding more bus bays.

The new plan responds to nearly all of the major criticisms, while at the same time more than doubling the amount of housing originally proposed. Now, opponents mostly object to the potential building's height, even though it is on a block with other 3-story apartment buildings, all of which face single-family houses.

The proposal's modest scale is in sync with the downtown district's eclectic variety of buildings. EYA has already agreed to make the building shorter and reduce the number of units from 266.

At a March 13 WMATA committee meeting about the project, the board members incorporated amendments that the city of Takoma Park requested into its resolution to move the project forward. This Thursday, the WMATA Board will vote on an agreement with EYA to pursue the project, and to hold an official public hearing.

If WMATA approves the project, it will go to the DC Zoning Commission, which will have an opportunity to refine the design in its review process. Neighbors will have ample opportunity to raise their concerns about any aspect of the proposal then.

Like with any proposal, there is room for more improvement. The proposal offers much less parking for residents than before, which makes sense for a site next to a Metro station. But it could be lower still, since this is the transit agency's land and the point is to build housing for more transit customers.

The new proposal offers residential parking at about 0.7 spaces per unit, down from 1.5 to 2 spaces per unit in the townhouse proposal. It would be sensible for WMATA to require that developers on their property to build less parking and offer their residents incentives to ride transit and use carsharing. That makes it easier to market the building to transit-oriented households who rely much less on personal cars.

The other important way the WMATA Board could improve this project is to honor the DC Council's 2002 request that 20% of any housing at this site be set aside for households making 30%, 60%, and 80% of the area median income. This is still the right commitment for a property that the public transit agency and District of Columbia control, and our need for more affordable housing has only grown in the intervening years.

It's been a long time coming, but this proposal for the Takoma Metro station will make downtown Takoma a better place for everyone. It will help a greater number of people use transit, have daily access to local shopping, and live with a lower carbon footprint. This is exactly where our region should be growing, and where we can accommodate more people who seek a transit-oriented lifestyle.

If you agree, ask the WMATA Board to move ahead with this project. Click here to let them know.

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Cheryl Cort is Policy Director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. She works with community activists, non-profit groups and government agencies to promote transit-oriented development, housing choices, economic development and pedestrian safety, especially in less affluent communities. 

Comments

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How do Takoma Park residents even have a say in something that is occurring in DC ?

"It's been a long time coming, but this proposal for the Takoma Metro station will make downtown Takoma a better place for everyone."

Are you talking about downtown Takoma Park or Takoma the neighborhood in DC and if so how does a neighborhood have a downtown?

by kk on Mar 24, 2014 2:14 pm • linkreport

kk -- the property abuts Takoma Park, literally, on Eastern Avenue. DC has a policy that with regard to ANCs, if a project is in one ANC but abuts another the other ANC also has standing. Certainly, on the border of the city, when projects abut either MoCo or PGC on the other side, it is common courtesy to consider the concerns of the other jurisdiction. The 200 foot rule concerning abutting ANCs ought to apply to abutting jurisdictions.

Note though this is a tricky issue. The WMATA contract shouldn't delve too deeply into areas of zoning which are normally considered by the Zoning Commission-DC Government, under DC laws.

FWIW, I submitted testimony in 2006 that the project then should have been all multiunit with no residential parking except for shared parking and car sharing.

- http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2006/10/comments-on-proposed-eya-development.html

This is now my greater neighborhood (it wasn't in 2006) and the back and forth on the project amongst neighborhood stakeholders has led me to some new conclusions about how we should do planning and the zoning rewrite--which wasn't done--to better clarify how to address the issues within particular types of land use contexts and objectives.

The big problem is that a lot of the opponents, who mostly live in single family detached housing, are "judging" the development as if it were supposed to be SFH. That's a bit of an overstatement, but still generally correct. The point is that they aren't evaluating the project in terms of its conditions at the Metrorail station site and as a component of the commercial district, rather than in terms of more like the kind of block that they live on themselves.

by Richard Layman on Mar 24, 2014 3:27 pm • linkreport

Yet another demolition special, though perhaps not the death trap of the Ceder Crossing and Elevation 314 projects.

http://wwwtripwithinthebeltway.blogspot.com/2011/11/takoma-dc-death-trap-residential.html

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Mar 24, 2014 3:27 pm • linkreport

NIMBY: "Restrict density to around Metro stations!"

YIMBY: "Okay. How about a three-story building?"

NIMBY: "No! Too tall! Too dense!"

YIMBY: *slams head into wall*

by Adam L on Mar 24, 2014 5:42 pm • linkreport

In fifteen or twenty years developers will be tearing down their 3 to 8 story developments at Metrorail stations and building 20 story buildings (outside of DC). People will sit around and ask what were they thinking in 2012 and 2013 building such inadequate developments at valuable Metrorail stations.

by Mr. Transit on Mar 25, 2014 9:01 am • linkreport

Seems like a well conceived plan, I can't take anyone who would object to this incarnation seriously.

by BTA on Mar 25, 2014 9:13 am • linkreport

I'm pretty sure the development steps up to 5 stories near the tracks. Also, 0.7 parking spaces per unit already seems like a very reasonable compromise, especially compared to suburban townhomes with 2-car garages (ridiculous beside a Metro station).

by King Terrapin on Mar 25, 2014 11:22 am • linkreport

The NIMBYs are out in full force against this, so any voices of reason sending in notes to the powers that be (I've already done the same!) would be appreciated. Seth Grimes from Maryland keeps trying to get rid of all the parking; after all, they can't park their cars in Maryland, so why should he care if they all have to park on the street? Please, please, please let this one actually go ahead.

by GM on Mar 25, 2014 12:35 pm • linkreport

My name is Sabrina Eaton and I live directly across Eastern Avenue from this proposed monstrosity. Cheryl Cort's account of this project minimizes its size and the impact it would have on the surrounding neighborhood. The facts about its dimensions & why it is opposed by all its immediate neighbors are at www.takomametro.com

Ms. Cort's organization is funded by the developer of this project, EYA, which has also hired a lobbyist and PR firm to conduct an astroturf campaign on its behalf. Do not fall prey to such tactics:

http://www.smartergrowth.net/about/annual-report-financial-information/#finance

Ms. Cort and her organization also heaped praise on a previous incarnation of this project that was ditched after being panned by everyone but her, EYA & WMATA. Anything she says about this project should be taken with giant container of salt.

If this project were three or four stories tall - as she claims - it would not be getting such a negative reception. In fact, plans call for it to be six or seven stories tall - at least 22 feet higher than the 50 foot height limit that zoning calls for on that site. It violates the master plan for the area. There are lots of reasons we don't like it. If they made it smaller, I don't think it would be getting this much flak.

Sabrina Eaton
Eastern Avenue
Takoma Park

by Sabrina Eaton on Mar 25, 2014 9:11 pm • linkreport

Ms. Eaton,

First, for how long did you expect that a parking lot next to a Metro station, not in some outside-the-Beltway locale, but literally in the city of Washington, remain undeveloped? And, we're not in the 1970s anymore. Can we really expect that only a 3-story building would be built in 2014?

Do keep in mind that the "historic" properties in Takoma Park abutting Eastern Ave routinely have 1-2 cars in the driveway. Across the street from a Metro station.

As another resident of Takoma Park, walking through this parking lot every day, it's ridiculous that this urban(ish) Metro station is half-surrounded by an at-best half-used parking lot. It really is absurd. The buildings literally on the other side of the tracks are 4.5 stories above the street, and I think EYA's proposal is to have 4 stories above the street (3 occupied plus garage). I do believe they step up another story near the tracks, but I don't think anyone lives on the Metro platform. The apartments up toward the Cady Lee are 3 stories plus a gabled roof, and *closer to Eastern Avenue*. So, it really doesn't seem out of place.

As a general statement (really, not directed toward Ms. Eaton specifically at all), if you don't want there to be a chance that you will live across from a 4+ story apartment building, why would you live literally across the street from a Metro station? This goes for Takoma and any other Metro station.

In case I get challenged for anonymity, I live near, but definitely not as near, the Metro station where Ms. Eaton lives. I live on New York Avenue in Takoma Park. So, sure, I am much, much less likely to have a 4-5 story building pop up across the street. On the other hand, I didn't buy a house literally across the street from a Metro station, either.

by EMD on Mar 25, 2014 11:12 pm • linkreport

Dear anonymous neighbor:

This proposal is NOT for a 3 to 4 story apartment building, as is claimed by Ms. Cort, whose organization is funded by the developer behind these plans. The drawings EYA submitted show it is at least 6 stories tall. The massing documents produced by EYA - which Ms. Cort did not include in this pitch for her corporate backer - show its actual size. Here they are:

http://dc-mdneighborsfortakomatransit.org/Takoma-ConceptualMassing7-5-13.pdf

As I said in my previous posting, if the building was as small as Ms. Cort maintains, many of the objections would evaporate. EYA & Friends think they can claim this building is just 3 to 4 stories tall by putting a shorter part of it along Eastern. After that, its height escalates rapidly to something that is much taller than zoning permits, is much taller than nearby apartment buildings, and is much larger than Ms. Cort says it is.

The section of the building on Eastern Avenue is in a residential zone with a height limit of 40 feet. Closer to the train tracks, the building is in a commercial zone with a 50 foot height limit. Yet EYA's proposed design will rise to at least 72 feet, despite the fact that the four buildings already built or approved by the tracks are 50 feet tall - in conformity with DC zoning regulations.

Shockingly enough, many of us who live across the street from the Metro parking lot would like to see it replaced with something more aesthetic and useful, but the plusses must outweigh the minuses. The cynicism with which EYA and their allies like Ms. Cort peddled the last bad design has made people skeptical of their new pitch to privatize public property and wring out extra dollars by supersizing square footage. This time, they're substituting vertical overreach for horizontal sprawl. We don't buy it. To believe in smart growth, one does not have to endorse something this overbearing in scale and insensitive to its surrounding neighborhood.

Sabrina Eaton
Who lives across the street from this thing and will have to live with its consequences after EYA cashes out and moves onto something else.

by Sabrina Eaton on Mar 26, 2014 6:15 am • linkreport

Shockingly enough, many of us who live across the street from the Metro parking lot would like to see it replaced with something more aesthetic and useful, but the plusses must outweigh the minuses

The only minus I can see in your comments is that the building is "too tall" which is a pretty subjective argument.

Also, if the building is going to ruin the neighborhood for you. Why not move?

by drumz on Mar 26, 2014 8:04 am • linkreport

1. Anyone remember the unfortunate things that happened to existing communities in the name of "urban renewal"? Does Smart Growth/TOD require that green space be paved over? That the current context of an existing, and thriving neighborhood, be ignored? That neighbors be encouraged to move if they don't like what is going on?

2. What's the threshold for satisfying requirements of "smart growth"? I have yet to hear a DC/MD neighbor say that there should be NO development. Why isn't a smaller development that is inline with the negotiation of the 2002 Community Plan appropriate? Is it Smart Growth that is driving this density, or the financial constraints of EYA and the conservation underwriting standards of its lenders?

3. Takoma has always been a multijurisdictional neighborhood - and much of the retail/recreational/commercial activity enjoyed by DC residents is on the MD side. EYA is purporting that Takoma Park, MD will benefit from this development (http://takomaconnected.com/) - and if we will be part of the "public" that will enjoy these purported benefits (as is being claimed, and will very likely be claimed during the DC PUD process), then we certainly should have a voice is whether is this is accurate.

4. Re: Expectations of SFH owners who are "judging" the current structure - to claim that they want SFHs across the street is inaccurate. Best practices of sensible development, whether smart growth, TOD, or otherwise, include responding to current neighborhood context, which include the surrounding buildings and the train line. The train line has also been a part of Takoma/Park, which is an original commuter "suburb" of DC. Metro made a regrettable decision 30+ years ago to demo the existing commercial /residential buildings on the site and "suburbize" it.

5. This proposal is not putting transit first - if it were, then consideration of future (near and far) transit needs for Takoma/Park would be front and center. If this current structure goes up, and if WMATA keeps its "promise" to keep the green space, WMATA has literally painted itself in a corner because the site will not accommodate any more bus routes, parking, or even retraction of parking spaces as it becomes clearer to us (and the banks underwriting EYA) that parking is not necessary.

by RFH_MD on Mar 26, 2014 9:05 am • linkreport

EYA’s publicist earned their monies for this fluff. More thoughtful discussion of the issues surroinding this proposal can be found on http://www.takomametro.com

by ray on Mar 26, 2014 9:11 am • linkreport

1. Yes, urban renewal was a specific design philsophy, smart growth is a specific design philosophy. Beyond that, they're not really the same. It's the second paragraph where we're told that green space is being preserved. Nothing is being paved over. Housing is being built. People need houses to live in.

2. Smart growth is a specific way of designing things. It's also not monolithic and is meant to be scalable. As to why EYA chose to build this much? I can't say why but probably that this is the amount of housing that maxes out what they're able to sell at a specific cost. That's how private enterprise works. You're throwing out terms like "smart growth" "TOD" and others without really using them correctly.

4.How is this building out of context? You say you don't want just SFH's but then rail against an apartment building. "Too tall" is pretty subjective especially when the difference between appropriate and too tall (for opponents) is literally a couple of floors. What's the material difference?

Neighborhoods and contexts change. Back in the day it was ok to build low density neighborhoods around transit becuase the overall environment could support it. That's not the case today because we have more limited resources to work with (Land is at a premium, it's harder to expand the transit network, etc.) that's why it makes sense to have higher densities at transit today than what we could have gotten away with 50-80 years ago.

5. Metro has put transit first. Before they open up they're land for development they go through a process where they look at the current and future needs for transit. That's why this process at each metro is deliberate and metro is taking their time by only doing a few stations per year.

by drumz on Mar 26, 2014 9:26 am • linkreport

The Takoma District Plan dates back to 2002. You can find it here:

http://planning.dc.gov/DC/Planning/In+Your+Neighborhood/Wards/Ward+4/Takoma+Central+District+Plan+(Completed)

A few things jump out:

One: Comic sans? Really?

Two: the housing projections are way off. The plan (completed in 2002) did not anticipate the kind of growth we are seeing in the District. It projected 523k residents in 2005; this number likely didn't reflect the actual population of the city at the time due to the city's challenge of the 2000 census figures. Eventually, the Census Bureau adjusted DC's 2000 population from 518k to 572k after a challenge of the count from DC officials.

The plan projects DC's 2010 population at 554k (actual - 602k), and today's population estimate is 646k.

The reason this matters is that the plan accounts for projected growth; and that projection is based on old, flawed data that has been substantially revised. It also doesn't account for the increase in DC's growth since the 2010 Census.

by Alex B. on Mar 26, 2014 9:36 am • linkreport

@drumz
1&2. Re: smart growth - what is the correct usage of smart growth? It hasn't been defined by the parties using it to defend the current proposal. And why can't current concerns of neighbors be addressed and still be smart growth? If those who don't 100% embrace the current proposal are being accused of being "anti-smart growth," don't you think it would be crucial to productive discussion for everyone involved in conversation to understand the objectives that are trying be achieved (beyond wmata and eya making as much money as possible?)

4. If you have been following this conversation, you will note that skeptics of current proposal refer to current zoning laws and the 2002 community plan. According to these standards, the current project is too large. There are also best practice re: infill development, esp in historic districts and within constraints of current infrastructure. If you have more "objective standards" for us to consider, please share them (I am being sincere).

5. Consider that WMATA's request for proposal for this site was done in 1997! Can you direct us to any hard documentation that WMATA has updated its requirements for the site, or that it has considered the impact of current and ongoing new developments in the area? It's traffic report IGNORES them.

by RFH_MD on Mar 26, 2014 9:52 am • linkreport

@ Alex B. DC's current population is still less than its population in 1950 - which was 802,000 (plus). By that metric, there is no justification for any development for a long time, at least until we rehab all of the current vacant properties.

by RFH_MD on Mar 26, 2014 10:02 am • linkreport

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_growth

This plan seems to generally fit. It's compact, in an already walkable neighborhood, and near transit. But the point is that its scalable. It's a general set of principles and not nearly as dogmatic as you're painting it to be. I don't really care if you're anti-smart growth or not or you consider yourself a fan but hate this proposal for whatever reason. I just don't like the term to be bandied about willy nilly. It's not even a term used in the original article.

Why did the original plan define the size to begin with. Saying that the building is too tall because the plan says its too tall is almost tautological reasoning. I'm gonna need a little more than that on why 6 stories is so much worse than 4 (and the project isn't even uniformly 6 stories). This stems from a belief that one building can't make or break a neighborhood. Especially this one which isn't all that unique or out of scale with typical development we see near our metro stations.

by drumz on Mar 26, 2014 10:04 am • linkreport

...and there are LOTS of reasons why getting back to 800k would mean building lots of new buildings in DC.

by drumz on Mar 26, 2014 10:07 am • linkreport

DC's current population is still less than its population in 1950 - which was 802,000 (plus). By that metric, there is no justification for any development for a long time, at least until we rehab all of the current vacant properties.

We've discussed this before here, but this isn't a very good comparison.

Average household size in 1950 was 3.5+, now it is 2.1. If you want to get to that 1950 population without building anything new, then you're going to have to cram more people into existing housing (not vacant units).

And that's pretty much what happened back then; lots of war-related jobs and not a lot of resources to build new housing, so people rented rooms.

So, no: I don't think that's the best metric to use to measure the demand for new housing in DC.

by Alex B. on Mar 26, 2014 10:15 am • linkreport

Although once upon a time, smart growth might've meant something, today it's just doublespeak for maximize profits at all costs.

by ray on Mar 26, 2014 10:21 am • linkreport

Too tall isn't subjective. It's actually a matter of zoning regulations from which their seeking exemptions.

by ray on Mar 26, 2014 10:23 am • linkreport

...and why are those the zoning regs in place? Why is four stories appropriate but any more floors than that crossing a line? Besides, "that's what the rules say!" that is.

Shadows aren't going to be any longer in this case and the site is literally next to a metro station so it's not the extra people necessarily.

by drumz on Mar 26, 2014 10:26 am • linkreport

I'm glad you asked about zoning because according to Wikipedia, 'in practice, zoning regulations are used prevent new development from interfering with existing residents or businesses and to preserve the "character" of a community which is directly on point'.

The key phrases here are worth note, protect existing residents & preserve the character of a community.

by ray on Mar 26, 2014 11:39 am • linkreport

The concept of zoning was upheld by the supreme court based on the ability to protect the wellbeing of the community. That doesn't mean that any specific zoning can't be argued for/against or changed based on different rationales. Initially it was mainly limited to things like seperating industry from residential areas and preventing slum like conditions overly dense housing. Arguing that a 4 story building negatively impacts one's wellbeing requires more explanation.

by BTA on Mar 26, 2014 11:53 am • linkreport

A real question that gets back to some basic assumptions - (so all thoughtful responses welcome) - why is the fact that this site is right next to metro make it "special" so that area densities and current matter of right zoning should be superseded? If it's because it provides almost immediate access to transit for residents, then why should there be parking for them? Is this site "more special" than a comparably zoned lot 2 or 4 blocks away?

by RFH_MD on Mar 26, 2014 11:54 am • linkreport

@BTA - the burden of proof is actually on those who want to build beyond current matter of right zoning , which is the status quo enacted by a previous legislative and regulatory process. Why is a 5 or 7 story building "necessary" but a 3-4 story building unacceptable?

by RFH_MD on Mar 26, 2014 11:58 am • linkreport

The proposal is for .7 parking spaces per unit which could be lower if allowed by regulation or through a waiver/variance. I'm not sure what current parking regulations require. Typically, a lot of people will complain if they try to put in too few parking spaces so it's kind of a catch 22.

Any proposal that exceeds the height allowances will need to get some kind of variance. The zoning proccess has variances to address those cases. The developer will have to make their case here like they would anywhere else, but the process is there for procisely the reason that there may be cases where they can make a good argument that the current zoning is not perfect and there is a better case for a development that doesn't strictly adhere to the general zoning. In this case, one argument could be that DC has a specific policy to encourage transit use and it is document that people that live within a 1/4 mile or so of transit use it at a much higher rate than those that live further. Also the population is growing and there is need to add new units to the city to meet demand and presumably taller = more units.

by BTA on Mar 26, 2014 12:07 pm • linkreport

The key phrases here are worth note, protect existing residents & preserve the character of a community.

And this building harms residents and disrupts the character of the community how? By simply being there? If that's the case then I'd say that standard is being interpreted way too strictly. This is an apartment building in an area that already has similarly sized apartment buildings and is replacing vacant land. And it'll let more people live in Takoma Park which provides more customers for Takoma Park businesses. I think that would enhance the character of the community.

RFH_MD,

This proposal has less parking than what was proposed before. And all things equal, people would rather live right next to metro than 4 blocks away so that is an advantage for the site.

the burden of proof is actually on those who want to build beyond current matter of right zoning

Right, and I think the reasons are valid. It's an incremental increase justified by its proximity to metro and its more responsive to demand than the original plan anticipated. Moreover, I still haven't seen a reason why they shouldn't cut off a couple of floors other than "it's what the zoning says". Maybe the relative zoning boards will be more constrained by what the law mandates and rule a different way but so far I can't see a compelling reason not to let them build as is.

by drumz on Mar 26, 2014 12:21 pm • linkreport

As to the community's well being, it may simply be better served by kicking this bad plan to the curb and rebid the contract. Let's face it property values in the area have gone up substantially in the decade or more since it was signed. Why should EYA get this sweetheart deal?

by ray on Mar 26, 2014 12:40 pm • linkreport

@Sabrina - in response to your comments regarding the Coalition for Smarter Growth's motivations in this case:

We are a non-profit organization advocating for more walkable, transit-oriented, and inclusive communities throughout the Washington DC region. A majority of our funding comes from local and national foundations, with support also coming from hundreds of individuals from across the region and regional corporate sponsors. For more specifics, as you noted, you can go to http://www.smartergrowth.net/about/annual-report-financial-information.

These funds go to support our 6-person staff as we analyze specific transportation and development proposals and policy, partner with community organizations, provide information to local leaders and the regional media, and communicate directly with our thousands of grassroots supporters across the region.

Thanks to this diversity of support, the policy positions of the Coalition for Smarter Growth are chosen independently of the views of any particular sponsor. From time to time, we receive inquiries like yours about the independence of our positions from our funders. Our endorsement or critique of particular projects is not based on foundation, individual, or corporate sponsorship, but rather the merits of the particular project in question and whether or not it helps to create, on balance, a more walkable and inclusive Washington region.

by Alex@CSG on Mar 26, 2014 1:00 pm • linkreport

It is disingenuous to compare the proposed structure to other apartment buildings on Eastern when the volume of the proposed structure is at least 1000% greater than other structures on the street, and the elevation just along Eastern would be around 500% wider. And the author describes the proposal as "modest" - but compared to what?

by RFH_MD on Mar 26, 2014 1:40 pm • linkreport

@AlexCSG: Planting a misleading, biased blog post about EYA's proposed development without disclosing your organization's funding from EYA is the very definition of Astroturfing:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

Don't think people won't catch onto your tactics and lose any respect they may have had for your group.

Sabrina Eaton
Eastern Avenue

by Sabrina Eaton on Mar 26, 2014 10:09 pm • linkreport

Smart Growth is a well-defined concept. Here's the EPA's page.

I would appreciate a careful explanation of how this project fails the 10 principles outlined above, especially in the context of a growing city.

by Neil Flanagan on Mar 27, 2014 12:02 am • linkreport

@Neil Flanagan. More to the point - how does the current proposal support these 10 principles, given the particular context of the existing, walkable, neighborhood in a national and local historic district, and what is the basic threshold for achieving each principle (i.e., is it necessary to have 200 units, or would 100 suffice?) [Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by RFH_MD on Mar 27, 2014 12:10 am • linkreport

Given the proximity to metro and amenities, I am not sure how many people living in the new building would own cars, particularly if there were car sharing options in the building. As such, the discussion about traffic on Eastern/Blair/Piney Branch is a red herring.

These are all of the same tired arguments by people who already have theirs, whether in Takoma, Cleveland Park or Friendship Heights. It is really say because these are the same people who generally favor democratic policies of affordable housing, environmental protection and smarter land use in rural areas. Yet, when it comes to a proposal in the front or back yard, then geez, it needs to be shorter, or better yet, somewhere else.

We live in a thriving metropolitan area that is struggling to balance future growth trends with existing fabric. If we as a society cannot come to grips with relatively minor proposals like this one, then we should be prepared to suffer the future effects of these decisions.

by William on Mar 27, 2014 12:32 am • linkreport

@william. I agree to the extent that the design of infill development by a metro in a historic district should be a no-brainer, and somehow EYA and Wmata keep coming up with proposals as if they were building in a greenfield with no existing fabric around them instead of a neighborhood which currently has the attributes that new developments strive to achieve - pedestrian scale, access to transit, walk ability, a sense of place.

Some of the easy fixes to the current proposal include: increasing setback at eastern, breaking up monothilic facade on that elevation, and shortening structure until it is closer to metro tracks. Reduce parking for residents (which would allow the same number of people to live there but shrink volume of bldg). Keep as much permeable surface as exists now (runoff anyone?). Provide retail/commercial space closer to Carroll (true mixed use, and increasing public space).

by RFH_MD on Mar 27, 2014 7:11 am • linkreport

The specifics in terms of height for the building are: about 40 feet, or 3 stories, facing Eastern Avenue, which is similar to the height of a new townhouse. The building then steps up to about 50 feet. The grade of the land rises toward the rail tracks but the building remains 4 levels of residential above with Metro parking beneath. The building height does reach 72 feet due to the change in grade.

by Cheryl Cort on Mar 27, 2014 8:12 am • linkreport

@EMD In response to your cavalier statement that I should expect a monstrous apartment building to be proposed across the street from me just because I live near a Metro station, I'd like to point out that residents of your immediate neighborhood were recently up in arms about Montgomery College's proposed expansion of its Pavilion 3 building, near the corner of New York & Takoma Avenues. By the logic expressed in your post, you and your neighbors should joyously accept construction of a gigantic structure in your midst just because you bought property near a community college.

You're wrong. Neighbors of outrageous development proposals have the right to voice objections to them and do what they can to make them more reasonable.

http://www.gazette.net/article/20130424/NEWS/130429639/1007/takoma-park-residents-oppose-montgomery-college-expansion-project&template=gazette

It is really a bit outrageous for someone from your neck of the woods to write: "As a general statement (really, not directed toward Ms. Eaton specifically at all), if you don't want there to be a chance that you will live across from a 4+ story apartment building, why would you live literally across the street from a Metro station? This goes for Takoma and any other Metro station."

Sabrina Eaton
Eastern Avenue

by Sabrina Eaton on Mar 27, 2014 8:23 am • linkreport

Why is it outrageous? You have no idea whether EMD supports or doesn't support the other project you referenced? Just because there is a group of people opposed doesn't mean everyone or even a majority is opposed.

People do have a right to voice objections. They do not have a right to have all of those objections catered to. Our area needs more housing, period, and needs to put it where we have made the investments in high-quality public transportation infrastructure. We ALL pay for Metro. Therefore, it is the government's and Metro's jobs as stewards of the public interest to use those Metro assets in the ways that benefit all of us the best.

You gain a huge benefit from living across the street from a Metro station. That means you may have to deal with a building with the same street-facing height as two others literally 500 feet down Eastern Avenue.

by MLD on Mar 27, 2014 8:40 am • linkreport

@ MLD - get your facts straight. At the gable peak of 7056, the height is about 36', at the edges it's about 25'. The width of the building is no more than a residential lot width across the street. In contrast, metro bldg is 40', then quickly rises to 50' across an expanse of AT LEAST 5 residential lots. Volume is the issue.

And how does this bldg benefit the public? This is a private apartment building with mostly private parking and a private pool. There is no retail or commercial. There is no additional community space. Green space is bring paved over.

by RFH_MD on Mar 27, 2014 9:15 am • linkreport

Lol, so a few feet of difference.

Meanwhile, the public benefit is: more people living near transit (reducing overall congestion). More people to shop at Takoma Park's celebrated independent stores. Another place for you to live if you decide to move out of your house but still want to live in Takoma Park. Housing is a good thing. Where do you expect people to go otherwise?

by drumz on Mar 27, 2014 9:19 am • linkreport

Amazing that people have the gall to continue to throw out "green space is being paved over!!!!" when one of the major concessions during the process was keeping the 1.5 acres of green space to the East intact.

More housing is a public benefit. More people living this close to transit is a public benefit. More people within walking distance of Takoma Park's commercial district is a public benefit.

by MLD on Mar 27, 2014 9:26 am • linkreport

Walk down eastern - the green space & trees between bus bays and kiss and ride will be gone. The green buffer & trees between metro and adjacent building will be gone. Compare eya's plan view with satellite map - see for yourself.

by RFH_MD on Mar 27, 2014 9:32 am • linkreport

Why is it necessary to have a green buffer next to a metro station? That's exactly the place you don't want a green buffer, otherwise, why did you put a heavy rail transit stop there? It's not like greenery is hard to find in that part of town.

by drumz on Mar 27, 2014 9:44 am • linkreport

"get your facts straight. At the gable peak of 7056, the height is about 36', at the edges it's about 25'. The width of the building is no more than a residential lot width across the street. In contrast, metro bldg is 40', then quickly rises to 50' across an expanse of AT LEAST 5 residential lots. Volume is the issue"

so, 36 ft and 40 ft. Sounds about the same to me. And that its wider does not necessarily make it worse. Sure small lot buildings are nice, but a wider building enables economies in construction, and economies in delivering amenities. Plenty of good reasons to have a wider building. (And btw, I live in Annandale and welcome the taller and wider building proposed for the AMF bowling alley parcel - and we dont even have a metro station - wish we did)

Calling for zero change in permeable area when a new building replaces a parking lot seems like a high bar.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 27, 2014 9:47 am • linkreport

Okay, I wade back into this discussion. Note: some of this is the same as what I commented on the City Paper page.

On my way home yesterday I looked at two buildings to see if my memory was right about height.

1) 200 Carroll St NW. There is a one-story concrete platform, atop which sit 5 floors (counting windows) of wood-frame construction. Based on EYA's drawings, I don't see how this is not the same as what EYA is proposing (five floors/rows of windows) atop a concrete platform). Plus, the building at 200 Carroll only steps back the top floor, and maybe only by 10 feet, if that. And, 200 Carroll is not only next to a 1-story 7-11, but is fairly close to a couple of SFHs on Cedar St NW. This building is only, what, 100-150 yards from the proposed building at the Metro station? It seems the horse has left the barn on there being a large-footprint, 6-floor building in the neighborhood.

2) Okay, 7050/7056 Eastern Ave. First, last night I labeled it 7056 Eastern, when I was speaking specifically about 7050 Eastern. In this area, Eastern Ave rises up from the Metro area. At the downhill edge, there are four rows of windows completely above grade (i.e., the bottom ones are *not* in window wells). This seems a lot like 4 floors above grade to me. On the uphill edge, there are 3 rows of windows above grade. So, *on average*, it seemed like 3.5 stories to me. And, 3.5 stories of blank wall. And, this building is at most 10 feet from the sidewalk, and I do think more like 6 than 10. Yes, this building is only facing its narrow end to the street, as does its same-height sister building at 7056 Eastern.

My point with these examples is to address the complaints about height. There are *definitely* similar-height buildings in the immediate vicinity that are as high as close to SFHs and the sidewalk.

Regarding footprint, yes, the proposed building at the Metro has a larger footprint. But, the 200 Carroll buildings and Takoma Gables (across the tracks from the Metro) have significant footprint, too.

And, please don't get me started about the "buffer". The apartment buildings up Eastern from the Metro have no buffer from the tracks behind them. With the exception of 2 SFHs on Eastern, the "buffer" is a half-empty parking lot.

by EMD on Mar 27, 2014 10:01 am • linkreport

I am baffled by this idea that condo buildings should not have 1 parking space per unit because they are near metro. The first wave of occupants may believe that they don't need a parking space, but after a few years they will realize that life throws curve balls at you. If you are young and single, you may find a mate who lives in, say, Columbia MD, and can only spend Saturday night with you if he/she can park near you. You may also lose your job currently conveniently located on K street. Guess what, after looking for 6 months, the only new job you found is in Potomac! Where are you going to park your newly acquired Fiat 500 now that you must drive to work? Eventually, all these cars and more will find themselves on the neighborhood's streets.
And I fully support the comment of the blogger who warned that in 20 years, these small condo buildings near metro will look like a great waste of a rare commodity: housing near metro. If we really want to promote public transportation, sites near metro should be used to build large building (10+ floors)and each unit should have a parking space to avoid crowding the neighborhood's streets with parked cars in the future.

by Thierry on Mar 27, 2014 10:28 am • linkreport

Personal circumstances sometimes change so we should build way more parking than needed to maybe accomodate that? Ok.

by drumz on Mar 27, 2014 10:43 am • linkreport

So your post states "we should build way more parking" I take it you work for EYA? Just want to be clear about your affiliation.

Anyhow, statistics show mass transit ridership is at an all time high since the 1950s and the majority of younger people likely to live in a place like this don't even own a car. Further, technical advancements likely to occur in over the next decade may make those parking spaces about as useful as a Blockbuster video rental. In general, parking structures seem like a poor investment at this time.

by Neighbor on Mar 27, 2014 12:20 pm • linkreport

I was being facetious and question the rationale that says we should build a lot more parking than what's proposed because someone might have to unexpectedly buy a new car some day.

by drumz on Mar 27, 2014 12:23 pm • linkreport

I think .7 is a compromise between the call for 1 space per unit and a parking free building. There may be arguments for more, or for less, but I assume the developer looked at those and made a judgement of the market.

I would override the developers judgement with a parking minimum only someplace with litte transit (which this is not) or with a maximum in a place with particularly xcessive congestion (?)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 27, 2014 12:27 pm • linkreport

At 4 or 5 stories, the building height at the street would fit well within accepted height to weight ratios for a pleasant pedestrian environment. http://urbanland.uli.org/capital-markets/eight-qualities-of-pedestrian-and-transit-oriented-design/

by BTA on Mar 27, 2014 12:41 pm • linkreport

Responding to "Neighbor" posting on 3/27 at 12:20 - I don't agree with the assertion that "parking structures seems like a poor investment at this time". Parking spaces in buildings near transit are extremely valuable (and sell for much more per square foot than the living space itself). I rent out a condo that I own in Van Ness and a parking that I own next to the Woodley Park metro. My return on investment is about 3 times on the parking space what it is on the condo (not to mention the fact that I never have to repaint the parking...). But the issue here is not investment profitability. It is simply to avoid turning DC into London or Paris, where less and less people are able to own and park a vehicle. This has a significant impact on demographics, basically eliminating families with children (relegated to the suburbs) while reserving the desirable downtown areas (and all their benefits) to the singles, the elderly and the rich.

by Thierry on Mar 27, 2014 1:48 pm • linkreport

Sorry you don't agree, but your personal anecdotes aren't relevant. Cherry picking facts doesn't make a thing true.

However, people are driving less now than any time in the past half-century.

“Last year people took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation. As the highest annual ridership number since 1956"
http://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/news/11358669/mass-transit-ridership-at-highest-level-since-1956

People likely to live in this development particularly are not buying cars.

"Auto manufacturers today are scratching their heads, trying to figure out why the millennial generation has little-to-no interest in owning a car"
http://bit.ly/1ePO1NP

“Millenials, those people born around the turn of the past century are much less car-oriented," he said. "They are urban. They like not owning cars, they like less responsibility and there are a lot of them."
http://bit.ly/1hyncee

by Neighbor on Mar 27, 2014 2:18 pm • linkreport

Parking spaces in buildings near transit are extremely valuable (and sell for much more per square foot than the living space itself).

Parking spaces are also extraordinarily expensive to build in structures (either above or under ground), often so expensive that the cost of construction exceeds the value.

My return on investment is about 3 times on the parking space what it is on the condo (not to mention the fact that I never have to repaint the parking...).

You may lease our your space for a profit, but that doesn't mean it was cost-effective to build in the first place.

I don't know how much you paid for the parking space, but I guess it wasn't the actual cost of building it. If parking alone had such a great value proposition, developers would be all about building more parking. But in most cases, it's a loss leader, not a profit center.

by Alex B. on Mar 27, 2014 2:27 pm • linkreport

For Alex: I don't know how much it costs to build a parking space or if developers sell them cheap as a loss leader. But the very high rents paid by parking tenants show that there is a deficit on the market, creating hardship for people who need to drive and who live in a building with insufficient parking. Another sign is that it takes about 2-3 months to re-rent my condo when it is empty and 2-3 days to find a new tenant for the parking space. I don't think we can argue with the fact that there is a shortfall of parking downtown and near metro stops. I would argue that, eventually, there will be a shortfall of parking for residents in the new buildings near the Takoma station. These cars will have to park on neighborhood street at night, unless the city creates a new category of second-class citizens who are not allowed to park near their home (see new developments on Wisconsin Avenue). We will then have the haves (allowed to park in front of their home) and the have nots, who can go park who knows where. I can see that developers would prefer not to build parking spaces (or gardens, playgrounds and similar low-return amenities). The question is: should the community should encourage this vice?

by Thierry on Mar 27, 2014 3:28 pm • linkreport

The options aren't just have a parking space in your building or don't. One could also decide they don't need a car, they could just deal with parking on the street because they'd rather do that, they could find some other place to park their car, or they could move.

Regarding this:

The question is: should the community should encourage this vice?

Considering that cars are polluting, expensive, dangerous but sometimes necessary I'd say that communities should do what they can not to tip the balance towards owning cars. Plenty of developers will still build parking regardless, and they'll be on the hook if they build enough or not.

Besides, the point of street parking is for it to be used. If you have street parking that nobody uses then you just have extra-wide streets.

by drumz on Mar 27, 2014 3:54 pm • linkreport

To be clear, my perspective is as follows:
A. Cities should provide all facilities to ensure that people who do not want to drive have easy and affordable access to public transportation. This is necessary to reduce congestion, pollution and make the city livable for those who cannot/ do not want to drive.
B. Cities should also ensure that people who want to live near a metro or bus stop to use public transportation most of the time also have access to a parking space if they elect to keep a car for when they need it. Right now, I get the feeling the city's policy is basically: if you live near a transportation hub, that should be good enough for you and we will not ask developers to provide parking in their new developments on top of it.
I simply don't agree with that policy.

by Thierry on Mar 27, 2014 4:23 pm • linkreport

"This has a significant impact on demographics, basically eliminating families with children (relegated to the suburbs) while reserving the desirable downtown areas (and all their benefits) to the singles, the elderly and the rich. "

I think the price/rent per sq ft is doing that. Even car free families with kids have trouble affording the space they need. Requiring parking that the developer does not want only increases the price per sq ft.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 27, 2014 4:28 pm • linkreport

"how does this bldg benefit the public?" By selling this land to EYA at a high price, Metro earns money, which it can use for its capital or operating budgets. More earned income for Metro, both from land sales and from having more fare-paying riders on board, means less subsidy from we the public (DC/MD/VA taxpayers). New residents mean more property and income taxes for DC, which means less for DC's public to pay. New residents also mean new businesses -- like maybe things like a new theater in Takoma.

That makes ALL of us regional residents party to this. Yes, as a matter of fact, ALL of us are on the take from EYA!

by Payton Chung on Mar 27, 2014 4:36 pm • linkreport

Cities should also ensure that people who want to live near a metro or bus stop to use public transportation most of the time also have access to a parking space if they elect to keep a car for when they need it.

And they do have access to a parking space in this proposal.

The idea that you need 1 space per unit simply does not match with the demand for spaces. If you're arguing that one space per unit is the 'right' number, I think you need a lot more data to support that position.

To the contrary, there's plenty of data that we require far too much parking:

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2012/03/21/park-it/

by Alex B. on Mar 27, 2014 4:39 pm • linkreport

Holy Smokes this post exploded.

I'm a Takoma Park MD resident - homeowner - but I live more than 3/4ths of a mile from the metro station. Takoma Park and the metro station are still, unfortunately, relatively dangerous at night. I am not against this project at all - it will raise my property values by increasing density and creating a critical mass of development in Takoma/Takoma Park.

It's too bad that some people would rather continue to stare at this parking lot (http://goo.gl/maps/p3ZVm) than improve the area.

by Nick on Mar 27, 2014 5:38 pm • linkreport

It would be much more productive to address the ongoing disagreements about the relative heights of the various buildings (both the existing ones and the proposed new development), not to mention how many parking spaces would make sense, how the project fits into the neighborhood, etc. if there was an actual public dialogue involving the developer.

For reasons unknown to me, EYA has chosen to limit its actual engagement with Maryland neighbors in the immediate vicinity to one public meeting last summer. While they resist meeting with the public, they enlist people to speak on their behalf either online or in public hearings like the WMATA Board hearing today.

When I spoke at that hearing, I was upfront about my reasons for doing so: I live near the development site. There were other speakers at the event who live further away, who have some affiliation with developers, though not necessarily EYA. They are surely entitled to speak and, if they wish, to conceal their connections, but one can't help wondering why they are resistant to explaining their affiliation. Similarly, why do representatives of the Coalition for Smarter Growth not explain their connection to EYA In their posts?

It would be so much easier if EYA and WMATA would have agreed to additional public meetings to work out the areas of disagreement. In the case of the recent Federal Sustainable Community grants, a fundamental requirement of receiving the money was to undertake an ongoing collaborative engagement with the community. By not doing so in this case and by instead engaging in the "astroturf" approach cited above, they are ironically unleashing a process that will take longer than if they had been willing to engage in a more open manner.

by Peter Kovar on Mar 27, 2014 5:54 pm • linkreport

>> too bad that some people would rather continue to stare at this parking lot

Suggesting EYA's plan could be improved to better serve the surrounding community by adhering to best practices can hardly be characterized as pro-parking lot. This kind of willful and simpleminded mischaracterization only serves to drown out dissenting voices and discourages public debate.

by Neighbor on Mar 27, 2014 7:50 pm • linkreport

I agree. Best practices would call for this building to be bigger.

by Neil Flanagan on Mar 27, 2014 7:56 pm • linkreport

Actually it wouldn't require special exemptions to zoning laws setup to protect neighborhood's from bad developers and would adhere to the Takoma Central District plan. EYA's proposal sadly fails on both counts.

by Neighbor on Mar 27, 2014 8:08 pm • linkreport

Zoning was originally invented to keep Jewish tailors off of 5th Avenue.

Now, we clearly need zoning. But don't think for a minute that it's always the product of good intentions.

by Neil Flanagan on Mar 27, 2014 8:33 pm • linkreport

@ Neil- so you question the motives of zoning officials, community leaders, and residents who are concerned with the current proposal, but not WMATA's and EYA's motives? Why do they get a pass?

Clearly we need real estate development, but don't think for a minute that it's always the product of good intentions.

And to confirm - are you the Neil Flanagan who writes on architecture issues for GGW?

by RFH_MD on Mar 27, 2014 8:54 pm • linkreport

Metro and EYA's motives are pretty clear. Metro wants to develop a piece of property it owns and EYA wants to sell apartments. They've published their plans and many people are fine with what's proposed. It's not like EYA is lying with these plans and will actually build something else.

I don't really know of other motives not can I speculate what any others would be.

by Drumz on Mar 27, 2014 9:20 pm • linkreport

Actually you are misinformed about EYA's motives. They aren't selling apartments. They're rentals.

by Neighbor on Mar 27, 2014 10:13 pm • linkreport

Doesn't really matter, they're building a place and then charging people money to live there. Thats how we provide a lot of our housing in America. It's probably what the process that led to your house being built.

by Drumz on Mar 27, 2014 10:59 pm • linkreport

Again I have to disagree. The devil is in the details, and offering an opinion based on misinformation only serves to cloud the issues. The fact of the matter is this proposal poses a number of real problems for the community.

To name just a few:

1) Requires exemptions to zoning to build a massive 72-foot structure in the middle of a National Historic District. This fails to blend with the surrounding neighborhood but detracts from its unique character

2) Doesn't conform to smart growth best practices because it is not mixed use (lacks retail).

3) Creates additional traffic without allowances for improving impacted infrastructure like widening Eastern (Increase setback from road).

If EYA is willing to work with the community and address these issues, it could be a great project, but they’re current proposal simply crams the largest generic structure into the parcel without any regard for the surrounding context.

EYA’s proposal is a textbook example of bad design.

by Neighbor on Mar 28, 2014 10:11 am • linkreport

I live in Hyattsville in a single family home close to the metro, and the apartment building between my house and the metro (Mosaic) has had only beneficial effects. Firstly, I have seen an increase in young professionals walking there dogs, adding a sense of community. The street scape has been enhanced because of landscaping. I have met several friends over the years that live in the apt across the street. Having more renters in the neighborhood has helped me find tenants for my own rental unit who have become familiar with the area by living in the apartments nearby. The apartment building's mass reduces the noise in my neighborhood from the buses and cars along east-west highway.
NIMBY's have been a constant nuisance. They have stalled or halted construction on numerous projects over the years that would have further enhanced this neighborhood. They always want to scale back development. The result being, smaller, cheaper, lower quality buildings. Here's a news flash, taller buildings are built with concrete and steel and last a lot longer than 3 story stick buildings. Concrete buildings can demand higher rent and attract more affluent people. It's more desirable to live in a building where you can get a view and don't have to hear your upstairs neighbor stomping around. For me and most people moving to DC, it's more desirable to live in a vibrant, urban, walkable neighborhood. It's not subjective to say that taller buildings, built with higher quality materials are superior. NIMBY's have no grounds for their objective banter other than selfish, ignorant beliefs. Honestly, I can wait for them to just die off. I'm pretty sure EYA's market research team knows better than some grumpy old lady across the street. If you are going to fight for anything, fight to make sure that the construction is high quality, request all brick and stone facade and have them bury any nearby power lines.

by I_H8_NIMBYs on Mar 28, 2014 12:41 pm • linkreport

@ I_H8 - EYA's proposal is stick construction on concrete podium. It has never proposed concrete construction.

It looks like EYA's Mosaic in Hyattsville is also stick construction (with a brick/stone veneer).

Also - is Mosaic behind your house, or does it face you? Because from the map I'm looking at, it doesn't seem like Mosaic shares the road with any SFHs.

by RFH_MD on Mar 28, 2014 1:21 pm • linkreport

1. was the complaint about no retail made about the townhouses? One problem with this sort of thing is that new objections (not unique to the new design) come up with each new proposal - and the process gets dragged out. Opponents may not want to keep a parking lot, but this has remained a parking lot for the last ten years. If this is defeated, and a developer proposes a new plan that will take time - and that may well elicit new objections (not enough parking, too much parking, not enough retail, too much activity and traffic, etc)

2. Im not sure how to reconcile the claim that parking is not needed because all residents will use metro, and the claim that this will have a significant traffic impact.

3. Again, if i read this rightly there will not be a 72 ft height at the point where this will face existing buildings. Unless I am wrong, the citing of 72ft is misleading.

BTW - I speak as someone who has no financial interest in EYA, but lives a few miles from the Mosaic District in Fairfax, and likes both the EYA housing there and other things I've seen EYA do elsewhere.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 28, 2014 1:43 pm • linkreport

I love the subtle implication that renters are some nefarious troglodytes who are going to destroy the fabric of the neighborhood. About 60% the city rents, including large chunks of many of the "most desirable" neighborhoods.

by BTA on Mar 28, 2014 1:49 pm • linkreport

@ AWalker -

1. If the economy hadn't tanked in 2008, then a bunch of townhouses may have been built by now. Also, the current "TOD" multi-level proposal by a metro kind of begs for retail/commercial, doesn't it? More so than townhomes (unless it's an end townhome bodega or something)

2. I, too, am perplexed by the parking stuff. But mostly about how on the one hand this building should get special permission for being bigger than other buildings and for what current zoning calls for because it is next to the metro and "transit oriented" but, on the other, residents should still have cars? If this development is so special, shouldn't it require that the residents NOT have cars? Because right now - more units means more cars. 90 units (called for in the 2002 Plan) at .7 cars/unit would be 63 cars. 220 units at .7 is 154 cars. That's a lot of cars.

3. I suggest the next time you are in TK (if you spend anytime here from Fairfax), you stand across the street from the site on Eastern Ave. Now imagine a 4 story building that quickly (8 or 10' back) rises another story, then again rises a couple of other stories with the slope of the site. From the street level, the building will be as big as the highest point, which is 72 ft. This is not a situation where a 12 story building with a 2 story rise after a setback looks only like a 12 story building from the sidewalk immediately below.

by TK_Cat on Mar 28, 2014 1:56 pm • linkreport

Whether or not they add retail depends on the characteristics of the area, its not all that dense to begin with so another 400 people can probably be absorbed by local business already. Over-retailing is not an imaginary problem.

by BTA on Mar 28, 2014 2:01 pm • linkreport

@TK_Cat: With respect to #1, there's retail across the street from this site. There is a 10 story office building with plenty of commercial space for rent two blocks away. There is over 10,000 square feet of street-level retail (including a Busboys & Poets) going in a block away at Takoma Central. These condos do not beg for retail/commercial. The new residents may create additional retail/commercial demand, which might result in more retail/commercial space in Takoma or it might just mean that the current spaces in the surrounding area turn over less.

Regardless, TOD principles do not require that every use be present in every development. Given the large amount of retail and commercial space near this site, why is this a concern at all?

As for #3, what is so scary about a 72 ft building? There are other buildings that tall not far from here. Takoma Central is four and five stories. Is a six story building really that much scarier? And if it is, how do you cope with the 10 story office building another block away?

by Gray on Mar 28, 2014 2:06 pm • linkreport

TK - I dont think ANYONE should be required to not have cars. Thats a personal choice. Even in a parking free building, a person who wants to pay to park their car elsewhere should be allowed to own one. I consider myself an urbanist, I take transit daily, I advocate for biking, I oppose parking minimums, and am willing to consider parking maximums, but the notion that people who live anywhere should not be allowed to own cars is foreign to me. This may be why I do not find Tk Park appealing in some ways.

As for this building .7 spaces per building implies that many households (unless they park elsewhere) will be carfree. Many others will be car lite - they will consist of two adults - one will commute by metro and the other by auto. that could easily make sense in a household where one person works downtown or another location well served by metro, while the other does not. Also many people want to have cars for shopping, errands, to drop off kids, or for weekend trips out of town. I am in favor of ALLOWING parking free buildings - but I don't think requiring them makes sense.

2. I would love to go there and walk around, and look at the site. 72 feet is of course under 9 stories, I guess. And yes topography varies. Im not sure that a site that rises has to have a lower height building to compensate - why not let the topography be visible. Even in SFH neighborhoods a house on a hill will stand out.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 28, 2014 2:14 pm • linkreport

.7 spaces per unit

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 28, 2014 2:15 pm • linkreport

"220 units at .7 is 154 cars"

thats 66 carfree households. How many carlite households it represents depends on how many of the car owning households have one vs two adults.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 28, 2014 2:18 pm • linkreport

Someone standing across the street (50 feet away) will see the top of the tallest setback stories just BARELY peeking out over the facade of the building. If they are standing directly across the street from where those are - remember they only cover about 50% of the Eastern Ave frontage.

Someone walking along the street next to the building will only be able to see the facade stored - 40 feet.

Architects don't just pull setbacks out of their butts to make complaints go away. They are designed with specific ratios in mind so that from the street, the building looks smaller!

by MLD on Mar 28, 2014 2:24 pm • linkreport

@RFH_MD
Yes, it seems that EYA's Tacoma proposal is stick on concrete. They only will use all concrete for taller buildings, like 9+ stories. The problem is that they would never get a building that tall approved with existing zoning and a all the local NIMBY's trying to prevent growth. I've only been to Tacoma once and won't ever go back because there was nothing to do, no where to dine, nowhere to walk, I have no friends who live within walking distance. It will always be a pass through between DC and Silver Spring, unless they start taking growth seriously.
The Mosaic in Hyattsville should have been taller and should have been built of all concrete, glass and steel. In it's current state it will be run down in 20 years and as a commenter above mentioned, it will need to be rebuilt.

The residential SFH's have their own street and the Mosaic is behind them nestled up against the metro and Belcrest Rd. The SFH's are nothing special, and it would actually be appropriate to rezone the entire neighborhood and have a developer buy them all individually and build something nice. I've talked to some of my neighbors and we would love to get bought out, but I'm sure some of the older residents would throw a fit because change scares them. The funny part is, most of the people who wouldn't want to sell most likely don't use the metro or walk past there own driveway ever.

by I_H8_NIMBYs on Mar 28, 2014 2:27 pm • linkreport

@TK_Cat:

It's not that hard to imagine such a building when looking across Eastern Ave. Because all I need to do is turn 90 degrees to the left and see Takoma Central, which must be in the neighborhood of 72' tall, what, maybe 100 yards away? With only one setback at the top floor, and only set back, what, 6 feet? And, that 7-11 isn't its only neighbor; right next to it is a SFH on Cedar St.

Also, folks in the SFHs on and just off Eastern shouldn't talk too much about people living so close to the Metro shouldn't have cars, based on all the cars in those houses' driveways.

And, @I_H8_NIMBYs, (speaking as a Takoma Park resident) I do think there are a number of people who in fact want it to not be a destination, to just be a pass-through. Otherwise people might come here or something.

by EMD on Mar 28, 2014 4:50 pm • linkreport

@ EMD - Takoma Central is at most 55 ft, which is the "of right" height of buildings in the TK Commercial overlay District.

http://dcoz.dc.gov/info/overlay.shtm

So add another 20 ft or so to that.

And hey - sure people should have cars if they want to. And make decisions on where they live based upon that.

What SHOULDN'T happen though is giving special concessions to a developer (bigger building, exemptions from zoning restrictions) when, in fact, its building isn't all that special. Even the official "Smart Growth" people are calling for reduced parking spaces. Have zip car pods. Bike shares. Something.

You want TK to be convinced that this "future looking" design concept is really inspired by altruistic motives of saving the planet and the greenfields, etc., and thus we should "just shut up and deal" with the "minor" inconveniences of immediate congestion, noise, shadows, neighborhood incompatibility? Then present TK with a building design and concept that walks the walk of saving the planet - get rid of parking.

by TK_Cat on Mar 28, 2014 6:57 pm • linkreport

>> “I've only been to Tacoma once and won't ever go back…”

I thought you'd want to know we’re talking about a suburb of Washington DC not the port neighboring Puget Sound.

by Neighbor on Mar 28, 2014 8:52 pm • linkreport

@I_H8_NIMBYs for your sake I hope EYA’s marcom department is paid overtime. :)

by MRWUFFLLEZZ on Mar 28, 2014 9:02 pm • linkreport

TK_cat,

It's your neighbors that have demanded that this building simultaneously too much and too little parking. Even in this very thread. Maybe the number we are at is the best compromise. I'd have to hear a very convicing case as to why the project should be delayed again jut to negotiate parking spaces again. It wastes the time and resources of metro, EYA and people who'd like to actually move in to the eventual project.

by Drumz on Mar 28, 2014 9:31 pm • linkreport

You want TK to be convinced that this "future looking" design concept is really inspired by altruistic motives of saving the planet and the greenfields, etc., and thus we should "just shut up and deal" with the "minor" inconveniences of immediate congestion, noise, shadows, neighborhood incompatibility? Then present TK with a building design and concept that walks the walk of saving the planet - get rid of parking.

Nobody's suggested that EYA is motivated by anything other than money. Just that what they've proposed is better for a large swath of society than the status quo. So, while developers are finding ways to make density profitable, remember that they found a way to make money off the building you live in.

But yes, those inconveniences are minor. If you were serious about quality of life, you'd be hollering for a dramatic upzoning that would permit a large number of people to live their lives with a minimum of car trips and rents that weren't surging.

Would you accept more density in exchange for no garage?

by Neil Flanagan on Mar 28, 2014 9:32 pm • linkreport

*and again we need an answer better than "because the zoning says so" to object over a few feet in height.

by Drumz on Mar 28, 2014 9:32 pm • linkreport

Hi Drumz - I'd be happy to discuss reasons why neighbors are concerned about this building beyond those silly ol' "zoning" rules (zoning that was recently negotiated in the 2000s as a result of EYA first failed plan) once you've provided me and the reading public with proof that all voting WMATA board members, WMATA Real Estate Staff, EYA principals, and JBG principals are also living their "mission" of small footprint homes, high density living, and zero objections when their neighbors try to build outside the current zoning.

by TK_Cat on Mar 28, 2014 10:31 pm • linkreport

Why? This is an apartment building, not bio dome. Please don't resort to strawman arguments.

by drumz on Mar 28, 2014 10:42 pm • linkreport

@ Drumz - speaking of strawman arguments ... I have no idea what your reference to bio dome means. I just googled it, and the top results were about a stoner movie with Pauly Shore (and it got only 2 out of 5 stars on imdb). This may explain much about your previous posts.

by TK_Cat on Mar 28, 2014 10:59 pm • linkreport

Lol,

I just find the following,

Then present TK with a building design and concept that walks the walk of saving the planet - get rid of parking.

disingenuous. It's a false choice between nothing and perfection when what we have their is a pretty good project. Metro stops should have lots of residences near them, the does that and is in fact, better than what was first proposed.

by drumz on Mar 28, 2014 11:07 pm • linkreport

@ Drumz - what is disingenuous about expecting that people who espouse and impose certain values upon others live those same values? If you can't demonstrate that the decision makers and MONEY makers are living these same values, then we've identified the true "NIMBYs" here.

by TK_Cat on Mar 28, 2014 11:12 pm • linkreport

>> If you (drumz) can't demonstrate that the decision makers and MONEY makers are living these same values (that they'd impose on others), then we've identified the true "NIMBYs" here.

@TK_Cat nailed it!

by Neighbor on Mar 28, 2014 11:19 pm • linkreport

The "money makers", evil as they are. Are trying to build an apartment building. A place for people to live. I feel well and confident in stating that none of these money-makers are homeless.

The way we provide housing in this country is that someone builds a building and then sells/rents it. That's how it was for pretty much every building in America, probably including where you live.

Now, the practical effects of this particular building means that its residents are likely going to lead less carbon-intensive lives and I think that's a beneficial effect but I don't worry about the personal values of those involved. It doesn't matter and won't make the building any more or less valuable.

by drumz on Mar 28, 2014 11:27 pm • linkreport

Interesting speculation, but we are better served by focusing on the issues. EYA's proposal poses a number of problems for the community.

To name just a few:

1) Requires exemptions to zoning to build a massive 72-foot structure in the middle of a National Historic Distric which fails to blend with the surrounding neighborhood and detracts from its unique character

2) Doesn't conform to smart growth best practices because it is NOT MIXED USE (lacks retail).

3) Creates additional traffic WITHOUT allowances for improving impacted INFRASTRUCTURE like widening Eastern (Increase setback from road).

If EYA is willing to work with the community and address these issues, it could be a great project, but they’re current proposal simply crams the largest generic structure into the parcel WITHOUT REGARD for the surrounding context.

by Neighbor on Mar 28, 2014 11:38 pm • linkreport

1. "Massive" is your term. The building will have portions that are 70 feet tall but the design minimizes it and it's not that much taller than the next tallest buildings. Takoma Park's unique character comes from a lot of things, the height of buildings being further down the list than most.

2. Here are 10 principles of Smart Growth as defined by the EPA.

Mix land uses - you got me there but they say the local market isn't robust enough and the space would be wasted, choices have to be made sometimes.
Take advantage of compact building design - Sure, these are apartments rather than the first plan of town homes.
Create a range of housing opportunities and choices - adds rental opportunities to the neighborhood at large. Checks out.
Create walkable neighborhoods - Check. This is a strength of Takoma Park generally but the building certainly won't detract from it.
Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place. - Yep. More people living within walking distance of TP's retail means more customers.
Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas - This plan preserves and protects open space both immediately adjacent to the development and by being in an already developed part of town.
Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities - Check, see above.
Provide a variety of transportation choices - Check.
Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective. Check, the way WMATA handles these things is becoming pretty standard and they definitely know what they want in each instance.
Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions. - Seems so according the article. They've gone back and redone a bunch on this quite a few times for a long time now.

3. Why would you want to widen the road? That would be asking for more traffic (and just as much from people already living in the neighborhood as well as any new residents). Besides, it's literally next to a metro and within walking distance of several retail destinations. Unless you have some sort of analysis saying that the traffic effects will be noticeable I think the area can absorb it.

by drumz on Mar 28, 2014 11:56 pm • linkreport

@!Drumz you've won the internets! Just kidding...

Despite what you been told size really does matter even in real estate, but please by all means keep grasping...

by Neighbor on Mar 29, 2014 9:44 am • linkreport

Despite what you been told size really does matter even in real estate, but please by all means keep grasping...

Seems to me it's the people who respond to a long list of arguments and evidence with flippant comments like who are the ones who are "grasping."

You keep harping on the "no retail" thing but I'm pretty sure the people living around the project are the ones who don't want retail, and I doubt it would be the best idea given that the Takoma Park commercial district is a short walk away. Why would we want to harm those already existing retail businesses?

If you are really interested in making a market for new retail then you should want even more people living here (more density/bigger building).

You also harp on the 72-foot height, but as I pointed out, even standing across the street you won't see something that appears to be 72 feet tall facing the street (because there aren't 72 feet of building facing the street). That's what the setbacks are for.

I agree this project could have less parking. Unfortunately it is the people in the immediate area and those like Thierry who seem to think that every apartment should have a parking space.

How about this question Neil asked:
"Would you accept more density in exchange for no garage?"

I'm guessing the answer is no?

by MLD on Mar 29, 2014 10:46 am • linkreport

@ MLD -

Height is clearly visible from Eastern, Cedar, and Carrol. Unlike Manhattan, this neighborhood does not have "canyon" streets.

As to "Would you accept more density in exchange for no garage?" - more density than what? Than the current plan? Or the 90 units called for in the community plan within as right zoning?

Current parking amount has nothing to do with neighbors (um, do you really think EYA has negotiated with the neighbors?!).

The reality - lenders and their conservative underwriting practices have caused current parking situation.

Yes, neighbors are concerned about the increase of traffic and additional traffic and parking pressure on already overburdened side streets. There are two parking components: residential parking and commuter parking.

Instead of fueling the fire of speculation about parking, traffic etc., we all need to demand independent data:

1. Re: residential parking: an independent parking market study (that is made public) that analyzes the number of parking spaces & vacancies in nearby multi-family housing developments, and forecasts likely demand.

2. Re: commuter parking: parking analysis also needs to study how commuters, etc. currently use the parking lot, and also forecasts current demand.

3. Need to consider how to incentivize people not to use cars at the metro. Zipcar? Shuttles? Restrictions on residential tags, etc.

4. An updated traffic study that takes into account the developments under construction & further along the entitlement process (WMATA's traffic study astonishingly DOES NOT do this)

by TK_Cat on Mar 29, 2014 11:55 am • linkreport

Height visual - http://anc4b.org/Silhouettes2.htm

by TK_Cat on Mar 29, 2014 12:15 pm • linkreport

Nothing should be built until at least another decade is spent studying. And by that time, the first studies will be obsolete, so we'll probably need to re-do them. Anything else would just be rushing!

After all, there are no examples of neighborhoods surviving the imposition of towering 6 story buildings anywhere in the world. We have to assume the worst in the absence of all of these studies.

by Gray on Mar 29, 2014 3:04 pm • linkreport

They're asking for a PUD, which requires ANC consultation. The ZC rarely approves them without ANC support. Moreover, ANC4B has formally asked for EYA to collaborate with them. It's very reasonable to ask what the neighbors want.

Certainly EYA can't work with you, if they don't know what you want. Otherwise, they face the goalpost moving you see on this thread.

ANC 4B asked for a two-story underground parking deck, which is very expensive. Are you willing to permit the density to pay for that?

by Neil Flanagan on Mar 29, 2014 3:40 pm • linkreport

Drumz said: "The "money makers", evil as they are. Are trying to build an apartment building. A place for people to live. I feel well and confident in stating that none of these money-makers are homeless."

So it's ok to shame TK residents for defending their neighborhood and values (green spaces, historic community, small-scale walkable neighborhood) while at the same time not questioning whether the moneymakers and decisionmakers are living the values of "smart growth" and "high density" they seek to impose on us because TK residents haven't made millions off real estate development?

by TK_Cat on Mar 29, 2014 3:43 pm • linkreport

@ Neil. To clarify - are you an official EYA spokesperson? Is the comments section of a GGW post EYA's chosen forum for eliciting community feedback?

I can't speak for ANC 4b, but I suggest you/EYA review again their resolutions on the Takoma Metro matter and perhaps request a meeting with them.

Oh - and public (and publicly announced) meetings with DC/MD neighbors would be a good thing too.

by TK_Cat on Mar 29, 2014 4:21 pm • linkreport

Wait - nobody's noticed that the Takoma Green is against the 2002 plan? It's far too big, compared to what the community asked. Look at page 28!

by Neil Flanagan on Mar 29, 2014 4:27 pm • linkreport

@ Neil - I also notice on the page 28 plan that there is landscape buffer between 7036 Eastern and the new buildings, which is totally gone on EYA's current plan.

by TK_Cat on Mar 29, 2014 4:42 pm • linkreport

And another reason to question the wisdom of WMATA's approval of Takoma Metro Agreement

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/report-questions-metros-handling-of-more-than-2b-in-federal-funds/2014/03/28/ee79ab8a-b5ee-11e3-8020-b2d790b3c9e1_story.html

by TK_Cat on Mar 29, 2014 4:45 pm • linkreport

I don't believe I've shamed anyone or think anyone should. I also don't think we need to ensure that the people involved in construction are pure of heart.

by Drumz on Mar 29, 2014 5:03 pm • linkreport

And by all means defend your neighborhood. I'm just confident the neighborhood will be ok or even improved with this addition. It's rare for a single building to ruin a neighborhood.

by Drumz on Mar 29, 2014 5:09 pm • linkreport

The more I read about EYA's proposed development at Takoma metro the clearer it becomes this is simply another greed fueled developer hiding behind a thin veneer of smart growth. It's mind boggling that anyone other than those with a direct financial interest could support it.

by MRWUFFLLEZZ on Mar 29, 2014 5:54 pm • linkreport

@ Drumz. Um, a building not ruining a neighborhood is not a very high threshold - nor is it something to be particularly proud of (I can see it now - EYA and architecture firm KTGY accepting an award for "Not Ruining the Neighborhood."

But I also disagree - one huge building at the gateway of a neighborhood CAN ruin it.

by TK_Cat on Mar 29, 2014 6:51 pm • linkreport

So it's ok to shame TK residents for defending their neighborhood and values (green spaces, historic community, small-scale walkable neighborhood) while at the same time not questioning whether the moneymakers and decisionmakers are living the values of "smart growth" and "high density" they seek to impose on us because TK residents haven't made millions off real estate development?

1. I don't think anyone is "shaming" residents or looking to do so. So the comparison is wrong.
2. Is that how this country works now? Unless everyone at WMATA lives a life you prescribe then the whole exercise is invalid? Does that work for other jobs too? Everyone has to live within some parameters that fit their job?

Nobody is imposing values on you. You are free to keep living your life as you do. The reality is that TK residents have gained big benefits from the fact that they live so close to metro. In some cases that means you have to deal with some disbenefits too - like a tall building right next to that metro that we have all invested in.

Height is clearly visible from Eastern, Cedar, and Carrol. Unlike Manhattan, this neighborhood does not have "canyon" streets.

The height is visible, but those streets are 300+ feet away from the building so the building will not be "imposing" or appear "massive." As others have said, there are some big buildings in the area.

There have been plenty of negotiations with the community. There was a community meeting in July, and WMATA and EYA have presented to the ANC (pretty sure people can attend those meetings).

Concessions made:
http://takomaconnected.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/11-25-13-anc-meeting-presentation-handout.pdf

by MLD on Mar 30, 2014 8:46 am • linkreport

@ MLD. Yes, that is how it works. Would you trust a snakeoil salesman who refuses to use his own snakeoil? Or a missionary who doesn't live by his values?

by TK_Cat on Mar 30, 2014 10:57 am • linkreport

Because this isn't the same thing at all and isn't a faith-based project? There are reasons we want to build housing for lots of people around transit and data to back it up as to why many of the fears are unfounded.

Again I question why all these people live in Takoma Park and right next to the Metro if they have no interest in or desire for the things Metro brings with it. Isn't that at odds with living someplace that conforms with your values?

by MLD on Mar 30, 2014 11:06 am • linkreport

@ MLD - you're funny. Blind adherence to a "value" system seems pretty comparable to a religion to me. ("Smart Growth dictates that there can be NO design modification due to SFHs across the street! Density at all costs!")

And it seems that you haven't done your research, or you'd know that there are still people in TK who were here BEFORE metro came in. Because TK was founded along an original commuter line in the late 1800s. Metro is the newcomer to the neighborhood.

But not as new as EYA - it seems like the real question should be: EYA, why did you decide to come to TK, which is a long established neighborhood, a multi-jurisdictional National Historic District to boot, and to a site surrounded with small-scale buildings, if you have no interest or desire to design a development that is compatible with the neighborhood and if you feel burdened by the design issues of this unique site?

MLD - it's Design 101 to consider the site requirements. Proximity to metro isn't the only factor here.

by TK_Cat on Mar 30, 2014 11:45 am • linkreport

("Smart Growth dictates that there can be NO design modification due to SFHs across the street! Density at all costs!")

If you think this is the attitude taken then you are not paying attention. If this were the case, the building would be a whole lot bigger than currently proposed. Did you read the PDF I posted? The size of the building was reduced in response to neighborhood concerns.

And it seems that you haven't done your research, or you'd know that there are still people in TK who were here BEFORE metro came in. Because TK was founded along an original commuter line in the late 1800s. Metro is the newcomer to the neighborhood.
Everyone who has expressed concerns has lived in the neighborhood since before the Metro was built? Everyone is a 36+ year resident of the immediate area? I highly doubt that. And I don't see how the existence of a previous commuter line helps your argument - it only backs up the argument that people here should know that this is a transit-oriented area and will continue to be built as such in the future.

it's Design 101 to consider the site requirements. Proximity to metro isn't the only factor here.

Site requirements have been considered. Have you read any of the documentation from the parties who are building the building (EYA/WMATA)? They might shed some insight on the topic for you.

by MLD on Mar 30, 2014 12:41 pm • linkreport

I take great umbrage at the ad hominem insinuations made by some comments here (and elsewhere) that anyone who favors development is an immoral, corrupt sleazebag who must be on the take from an evil, greedy developer.

There are those of us who do not have a selfish interest in this site -- whether as neighbor or as developer -- but we are still stakeholders for this site. We all pay taxes to support Metro, and more development on Metro-owned land means fewer tax subsidies, and more fare-paying Metro riders. WMATA itself points to evidence that adding more development near its stations results in "fewer motorized trips, fewer miles driven, fewer cars owned, and fewer hours spent traveling." Those are Good Things that benefit all of us.

Cut it out with the slander already. We're all adults here.

by Payton Chung on Mar 30, 2014 12:50 pm • linkreport

@ Payton Chung - actually better and LEGAL management of WMATA means fewer tax subsidies - not sure if you've seen this yet, but read it before you continue to defend WMATA's spending.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/report-questions-metros-handling-of-more-than-2b-in-federal-funds/2014/03/28/ee79ab8a-b5ee-11e3-8020-b2d790b3c9e1_story.html

@ MLD - the PDF you posted to is a WMATA-written declaration of its own "successes" - not very credible.

by TK_Cat on Mar 30, 2014 1:21 pm • linkreport

MLD: The website you cite is more self-serving disinformation produced by the developer of this project - EYA - just like Ms. Cort's original, misleading post on this website, which fails to reveal that her organization is funded by EYA.

The "takomaconnected" website is owned by Chesapeake Public Strategies, a PR & lobbying firm hired by the developer. As part of their program to gin up astroturf backing for their client, they've held "Dinner and Letter" events around Takoma Park where they've presented a whitewashed version of their plans and urged people to write supportive letters for it (just as Ms. Cort does here).

Many of the "concessions" the developer claims to have made are utter tripe - such as the contention that the building is now three stories tall on Eastern Avenue instead of four. All they did was put an 8 to 10 foot indentation atop the building before jacking it up to four stories and then to at least six, as the below massing studies produced by EYA demonstrate.

http://dc-mdneighborsfortakomatransit.org/Takoma-ConceptualMassing7-5-13.pdf

Insisting the building is now three stories tall because of this indentation is like insisting a two-story home is one-story in height if it has a small single-story protrusion in the front. I really don't see how anyone who has examined the massing plans for this 72-foot tall building could insist it is three to four stories tall, as Ms. Cort says in this blog post.

Unquestioningly accepting propaganda about this development from Ms. Cort and EYA is like taking a coal-industry study of global warming at face value.

Sabrina Eaton
Eastern Avenue

by Sabrina Eaton on Mar 30, 2014 1:36 pm • linkreport

Anything written by proponents of development is outright lies and falsehoods. Anything written by opponents of development is just truthful complaints by people trying to do the right thing.

Got it.

Unquestioningly accepting propaganda about this development from Ms. Cort and EYA is like taking a coal-industry study of global warming at face value.

It's actually not at all. Information about the benefits of development like this is widespread and available from all sorts of independent sources. Research from other people is not "propaganda" created for this project. Perhaps if you understood the distinction you could move on from viewing this issue simply as people out to get you personally and "destroy" your neighborhood, and focus on how you could actually improve the project.

And for your information, the PDF I linked to I actually found originally on the site you just liked:
http://dc-mdneighborsfortakomatransit.org/
It is item #2 under "hand outs." I did not get it through the "Takoma Connected" page.

utter tripe - such as the contention that the building is now three stories tall on Eastern Avenue instead of four.

As I said before, if you do the math, standing across Eastern Ave from the building you will only barely be able to see the setback floors poking out over the 3rd story. So for all intents and purposes the building is only three stories from the perspective of Eastern Ave. If you can't see the other floors, why does it matter if they are there?

by MLD on Mar 30, 2014 2:13 pm • linkreport

- actually better and LEGAL management of WMATA means fewer tax subsidies

But this is irrelevant to question of developing areas around Metro stations. It's a good idea now; and if Metro had different management, it would still be a good idea.

The same is true of transit around the world. The benefits are not specific to WMATA.

by Alex B. on Mar 30, 2014 3:34 pm • linkreport

@ Alex B. - my comment was in direct response to PC's mandate that we support WMATA's efforts to make as much money as possible off its real estate deals so that we don't have to provide as much in tax and fare subsidies.

WMATA is demonstrating that it is a poor steward of the billions that it has to work with - so MORE money for it (at the expense of neighborhoods) is not the solution.

by TK_Cat on Mar 30, 2014 3:42 pm • linkreport

my comment was in direct response to PC's mandate that we support WMATA's efforts to make as much money as possible off its real estate deals so that we don't have to provide as much in tax and fare subsidies.

And I think you mis-read Payton's comment. The reason to support dense development here is because dense development means more fare-paying transit riders; and this ridership is what reduces Metro's operating subsidy.

WMATA does get joint development revenue from some of their development sites, but this revenue is an exceedingly small portion of their total revenues. The vast majority of Metro's revenues come from fares.

In other words, it makes sense to support dense development at a site like this regardless of who owns the land.

by Alex B. on Mar 30, 2014 3:55 pm • linkreport

WMATA is demonstrating that it is a poor steward of the billions that it has to work with - so MORE money for it (at the expense of neighborhoods) is not the solution.

Solution to what?

Like Alex said, it's irrelevant to the question of "should we build this development or not?"

Whatever current direct payment WMATA gets from the developer in exchange for land access is dwarfed by the increase in riders in the future from the fact that more people will live in close proximity to transit, the tax revenue for the District, etc.

by MLD on Mar 30, 2014 4:10 pm • linkreport

By that logic we should also eliminate the pool and residential parking to maximize metro's future the ridership!

by MRWUFFLLEZZ on Mar 30, 2014 4:15 pm • linkreport

Although the term smart growth might've meant something once upon a time, not like this design is about sustainable living or anything other than padding the developer's bottom line at the community's expense.

by ray on Mar 30, 2014 4:30 pm • linkreport

MLD: The document you cited is a handout from EYA - not exactly a dispassionate source. It is BS. Those of us who will be most affected by this thing can't afford to be snookered by the snow job they're attempting with aid from PR/lobbying firms and developer-funded groups with do-gooder sounding names.

My house is directly across Eastern Ave from the project they're attempting to build. Your contention that I will "only barely be able to see the setback floors poking out over the 3rd story" is poppycock, pure & simple. Their proposed apartment complex is two stories higher than a nearby building that is currently under construction, and whose ramifications are pictured on the takomametro.com website. It's not worth emulating.

This saga has persisted since 1999. EYA and Ms. Cort blew their credibility when they disingenuously maintained the developer's last proposal for 90 luxury townhouses with two story garages and a maze of inner streets was in the best interests of the universe, the neighborhood & public transit, even though it gave WMATA no room for future public transit growth and would have created traffic nightmares. The current apartment building concept is better than the last one but the devil is in the details, and there are still plenty of devils that must be exorcised.

Sabrina Eaton
Eastern Avenue

by Sabrina Eaton on Mar 30, 2014 4:36 pm • linkreport

@Sabrina Eaton: How will you be negatively affected by this building across the street from you? How will being able to see a building taller than your house negatively affect your life? If it's truly devastating, how have you survived the presence of a 10 story office building a couple of blocks away?

There has been a lot of talk from TP neighbors about the evils of developers seeking profit and all, but I haven't seen much explanation of how a six story building with some new residents (and therefore new demand for better transit and more varied retail) taking the place of a parking lot will negatively impact the neighborhood.

by Gray on Mar 30, 2014 4:47 pm • linkreport

Speaking of retail why doesn't this proposal include any? Isn’t mixed use one of the tenets of smart-growth? Shouldn't there be retail near metro’s too or is that distinction reserved for private swimming pools and parking lots? :)

by MRWUFFLLEZZ on Mar 30, 2014 5:13 pm • linkreport

@MRWUFFLLEZZ: That's been addressed in the comments above. This particular proposal does not have retail or commercial, but there is quite a bit of retail across the street, 10,000 square feet of street-level retail going in at Takoma Central a block away, and a 10 story building of commercial office space two blocks away.

The primary problem in the immediate vicinity has been retail turnover and vacancy, which more residents could definitely help with. But no, mixed use does not mean that every development must necessarily contain every possible use, particularly when the existing demand for one (like retail here) is somewhat weak.

by Gray on Mar 30, 2014 5:35 pm • linkreport

@Gray: See the www.takomametro.com website for many of the reasons neighbors dislike this plan. If you actually visited Takoma Park instead of looking at it on Google Maps, you'd know the 10 story office building is in a commercial strip, surrounded by office buildings & a CVS. This property is ringed by residences in a National Historic District. Even owners of properties that aren't historic - like residents of the Eastern Avenue apartment buildings & condominiums that adjoin the proposed development area - are beside themselves over the way this (at least) six story behemoth will tower over their homes and eliminate the grass and trees that would provide them with some buffering from it. Their buildings really are three and four stories tall, unlike the proposed building that EYA & Ms. Cort pretend is that size.

by Sabrina Eaton on Mar 30, 2014 5:52 pm • linkreport

@ Gray re: are you really defending the 10-story office building? It's really not a great example of design or urban infill. While it houses valuable businesses, it provides 0% interaction with the public at street level. A better design probably would have been closer to the street and squatter with retail/commercial at bottom.

by TK_Cat on Mar 30, 2014 5:58 pm • linkreport

Without mixed use the only aspect of smart-growth this proposed development embraces is cramming the most people it can into a small space with the exceptions of their private swimming pool and residential parking garage. Further, the proposed project simply lacks vision. There are about a half-dozen other developments within a short walk of this site that will be completed before this, and will add many more new residents to the area. Additional retail in such a valuable location seems like a no-brainer. :)

by MRWUFFLLEZZ on Mar 30, 2014 5:59 pm • linkreport

No, retail isn't a make or break component. Mixed use is nice and great but the neighborhood itself already displays a mix of uses.

This project does not "cram" people either.

And maybe the project would be built if people would stop freaking out about the prospect of some new neighbors living in an apartment nearby.

by Drumz on Mar 30, 2014 7:23 pm • linkreport

@TK_Cat: I'm not sure how you read what I wrote to be "defending" the 10 story building. My point was that somehow, the SFH owners have survived even with that building nearby. It could have been much better (i.e. more like this development), but it's not. It does provide quite a bit of commercial space though. There is also a ton of retail nearby, and more going in soon. So yes, this development can be great without retail or commercial space.

If your complaint now is that this proposal is flawed because it's not already built, it's unclear how the developers could possibly address your concern.

by Gray on Mar 30, 2014 8:12 pm • linkreport

@Sabrina Eaton: I visit TP all of the time. And since I live a block from the TP/SS line I have heard all of the faux-liberal objections to developers actually seeking a profit, as if all of those historic SFHs were built by altruistic craftspeople who eschewed any profit motive. What I haven't heard is a good argument why the SFH owners have a right to dictate how property is used, given that that property isn't theirs, is in a completely different jurisdiction governed by lawmakers they don't vote for, and the proposal has been modified repeatedly based on neighborhood input.

If green space is so vital to the health of TP, then why aren't any landowners clamoring for their homes to be razed and turned into green space? Since it's clearly not that important, perhaps the neighbors could be better served by working with the developers rather than complaining about anything that brings new neighbors if it takes away any green space or goes taller than two stories. Particularly since they live so close to a metro station, these neighbors need to understand that that area is a prime candidate for greater density that enables walkable development.

by Gray on Mar 30, 2014 8:22 pm • linkreport

New neighbors are great. I keep hearing smart-growth bandied about am concerned by EYA's rejection of smart growth principles particularly mixed use. Any property rhis near metro is too valuable to squander on private pool clubs and residential parking garages that the current proposal includes. There are half dozen other developments nearby that add many more new neighbors such that more retail here will be welcomed, but it's also understandable that some people might not want competition. :)

It's also understandable how neighbors may not take kindly to a proposal to place an 80 foot megadeathstar up against the sidewalk of sleepy two lane road whose nearest neighbors are mostly two story wood frame homes. This makes no attempt to blend with the surrounding historic neighborhood and diminishes its unique character. Ironically, these are two of the benefits listed on EYA's PR site. LOL...

by MRWUFFLLEZZ on Mar 30, 2014 8:34 pm • linkreport

@MRWUFFLLEZZ: Smart growth means encouraging mixed use development wherever possible. It does not mean that every single development must contain a full range of uses, particularly where the market for retail isn't that great or when neighborhood objections to just about any development make mixed use unfeasible.

This development is definitely in keeping with smart growth principles, by focusing development in such a transit-accessible location with lots of businesses and services within walking distance. Rejecting this proposal would mean rejecting a decent number of housing units in a transit-oriented development.

Opposing this development simply because it does not contain retail, even knowing there is lots of retail nearby, does not make you a smart growth proponent. Since successful opposition would likely reduce the amount of TOD in the area, opposing it for that reason is clearly not consistent with smart growth principles.

by Gray on Mar 30, 2014 8:47 pm • linkreport

I keep hearing smart-growth bandied about am concerned by EYA's rejection of smart growth principles particularly mixed use.
Saying its not smart growth because it lacks retail is simply untrue.

It's just one facet of smart growth. And the only one in particular that opponents can bring up and they've already explained that the retail market is weak and they don't think the site can support retail at the moment. If you disagree then put up your own money to build some stores with apartments on top. The EPAs 10 principles have already been brought up a few times. Look over them and you can see how this site fits.

neighbors may not take kindly to a proposal to place an 80 foot megadeathstar up against the sidewalk of sleepy two lane road whose nearest neighbors are mostly two story wood frame homes.

It's hard to take people seriously who describe an apartment building as "megadeathstar" or anything similar seriously.

Also the rest of the claim is untrue. This isn't mayberry. It's a neighborhood in the middle of a huge urban area and it's literally 4 or so metro stops from the seat of US Government.

Also, wood houses aren't harmed by nearby apartment buildings. But if you have a problem with apartment buildings near single family houses then you have options.

by drumz on Mar 30, 2014 8:50 pm • linkreport

You're point is well taken I agree this ISN'T SMART GROWTH at all beyond being next to a metro station. However, real estate next to a metro is far too valuable to be SQUANDERED on PRIVATE POOL CLUBS and RESIDENTIAL PARKING GARAGES. Further, mixed use could benefit the broader community as opposed to just a few residents, and at least some of us are concerned with the greater good.

I have to disagree since MEGADEATHSTAR is both a clear and succinct way to sum up a design for an 80 foot tall multi-acre building pushed up against the sidewalk of a sleepy two lane road whose nearest neighbors are two story wood frame homes.

EYA's proposal MAKES NOT ATTEMPT TO BLEND WITH the SURROUNDING NEIGHBORHOOD and DIMINISHES its UNIQUE historic CHARACTER. Ironically, EYA's own PR website for this development states it achieves these exact things. Sadly they're proposal makes NO ATTEMPT to achieve either.

by MRWUFFLLEZZ on Mar 30, 2014 9:51 pm • linkreport

Please stop saying this isn't smart growth. It's not true and disingenuous.

Even when you look at these principles defined by the EPA you'll notice that the principle on mixed land uses can apply at a neighborhood level than a building level. In fact, it's hard for any building to be specifically "smart growth" because it only works at a neighborhood level. At that point the project absolutely fits because it adds customers to be within walking distance of existing retail.

Complaining about the pool is bizarre. Lots of buildings have pools. Mine does and it was built in the 60s. So did my other apartment built in the 30s. If you want to live in a place with a pool you have tons of options.

Historic character is an important consideration but it's not a trump card. We also need to have neighborhoods where people can walk to transit and surrounding stores/amenties. And this building is going on vacant land so any historic structure isn't physically threatened by the project. Meanwhile, historic and modern architecture thrive side by side all over the world.

We're simultaneously moving the goal posts ("OMG a pool!") and circling (insisting it's not smart growth because it doesn't have retail).

by drumz on Mar 30, 2014 10:08 pm • linkreport

I agree with @drumz at 10:08 PM, not to mention that this is not a "sleepy two lane road." This is a somewhat major bus terminal next to a metro station. The streets are quite busy, and not sleepy.

The "historic character" of the neighborhood has survived a completely non-historical parking lot and unmanaged grassy space, so I'm pretty sure that a new building won't harm that character either.

by Gray on Mar 30, 2014 10:14 pm • linkreport

From Smart Growth America,

Smart growth means building urban, suburban and rural communities with housing and transportation choices near jobs, shops and schools. This approach supports local economies and protects the environment.

by drumz on Mar 30, 2014 10:15 pm • linkreport

@ Drumz. The historic resources at issue are the historic districts - both DC and MD ones, as well as the contributing buildings within the districts. So one of the questions that the federal section 106 process and the dc HPRB process need to address is the negative impact on these resources.

These are legal requirements - not " neighbor" opinion.

by RFH_MD on Mar 30, 2014 10:17 pm • linkreport

@RFH_MD: What negative impact would there be on the historic district to developing nearby land that is now a parking lot and unused space? Is this parking lot actually an important historical resource?

by Gray on Mar 30, 2014 10:24 pm • linkreport

@ gray - wmata razed the buildings on the now parking lot before the historic district was designated. But the lot is still within the historic district, so the project is subject to federal and state historic review.

And the term "survived" is an odd one in this context - have the SFHs spontaneously combusted? No. But do buildings like the 10 story office building enhance the character ? No. I'd imagine that EYA has the sophistication to come up with a great design and it's disappointing that we haven't seen it.

by RFH_MD on Mar 30, 2014 10:27 pm • linkreport

@ gray - re-read my post, and google "infill design guidelines for historic districts" if it's still not clear.

by RFH_MD on Mar 30, 2014 10:29 pm • linkreport

It's hard to take someone seriously who simultaneously complains about how too much space is wasted on non-housing things like "pool clubs" and about the building being too big.

by MLD on Mar 30, 2014 10:33 pm • linkreport

@Gray: For someone who claims to regularly visit Takoma Park, you are surprisingly oblivious to the surroundings of the office building you've been harping about.

In business, there is a difference between profiting & profiteering. EYA's current plan crosses that line, as evidenced by how greatly the height of the proposed apartment building exceeds what's permitted by zoning and how greatly its density exceeds what's permitted in the area's master plan. If EYA's plan was as wonderful as advertized, the developer wouldn't have to dispatch people from organizations it funds, such as Ms. Cort, to misstate the development's dimensions on this website in an effort to trick people who live nowhere near it to spam WMATA with cookie-cutter "We luv EYA" emails it has drafted. It would not have hired a lobbyist & PR company to hold "Dinner & a Letter" events where it finds people who live too far from the development to experience any of its negative side effects to spam WMATA with similar supportive correspondence. It would not claim that putting an 8 foot indentation on a 4 story building (and then ratcheting it up to 6 stories) magically transforms it to a three story building.

Surrounding property owners - who reside in apartment buildings, condos, & group houses as well as the "SFHs" that you seem so contemptuous of - want a development that's reasonable in scale, as existing zoning calls for. Zoning dictates how that property is supposed to be used - not us. To exceed that zoning, EYA must to undergo a variety of processes that will enable input from neighbors, including the PUD and historic review processes. So they'll have to listen to us eventually, because entities that approve these things pay closer attention to feedback from adjacent property owners than random meddlers who feel the need to dictate what goes into other people's neighborhoods

by Sabrina Eaton on Mar 30, 2014 10:40 pm • linkreport

To exceed that zoning, EYA must to undergo a variety of processes that will enable input from neighbors, including the PUD and historic review processes.

And assuming it passes all this we can safely assume that neighbors will accept that the system has worked despite a result that wasn't favorable to opponents?

by drumz on Mar 30, 2014 10:45 pm • linkreport

@ drumz. There are both state and federal issues here, so either "side" could pursue the matter to a federal court of appeals as a matter of right. At this point, it's difficult to say if the Supreme Court would be compelled to hear it. I, for one, would accept an appellate decision if the Supreme Court didn't take it up.

by RFH_MD on Mar 30, 2014 11:47 pm • linkreport

Sure they could. But at that point I'd really have to question the wisdom of spending so many resources to fight against a 4-6 story apartment building. Would that really be worth it?

by drumz on Mar 31, 2014 12:02 am • linkreport

@drumz: Of course it would! Though the reasons are unclear.

What I gather from this thread is that the concerns are that it is too big, not big enough to also contain retail, it's too expensive (it has a pool!) but not expensive enough because it doesn't look exactly like historic houses in the neighborhood, and it has too much parking and not enough parking. Also, in general the developers are too focused on making money rather than some other unspecified goal, and they're not taking all of the helpful comments from neighbors into account.

by Gray on Mar 31, 2014 7:15 am • linkreport

As an early poster eloquently stated, in business there is a line between profit and profiteering and EYA crosses that line here.

It's been stated how valuable this real estate next to metro is that it demands high density, so when I agree and suggest that all this land being allocated to private pool clubs and residential parking might be put to better use, you backpedal.

Can you say hypocrisy? Come on say it with me because that's what it is plain and simple. :)

by MRWUFFLLEZZ on Mar 31, 2014 7:35 am • linkreport

It's been stated how valuable this real estate next to metro is that it demands high density, so when I agree and suggest that all this land being allocated to private pool clubs and residential parking might be put to better use, you backpedal.

Who has backpedaled? There are people (myself included) who would be happy to see the building be bigger. But the size of the building has been partially dictated by complaints by immediate neighbors that it is too big. The developer has to work with neighbors on their concerns and so reducing the size of the building has been one of the compromises.

You, on the other hand, have complained both that the building is a "megadeathstar" and that it doesn't have enough housing. Which is it - too big, or too small?

by MLD on Mar 31, 2014 8:25 am • linkreport

Can you say hypocrisy?

It's not hypocrisy. EYA has to design a building that will be approved by the WMATA Board and also the DC Zoning Commission. Part of that is building to what those groups expect in terms of parking, size, etc. Another part is responding to neighborhood concerns so that the board and ZC feel like neighbors have had their say.

You can't ignore the political reality of the situation and then shout "hypocrisy!" because the project doesn't conform to some perfect ideal.

by MLD on Mar 31, 2014 8:48 am • linkreport

"MEGADEATHSTAR is both a clear and succinct way to sum up a design for an 80 foot tall multi-acre building pushed up against the sidewalk of a sleepy two lane road whose nearest neighbors are two story wood frame homes"

You've aptly conveyed the struggle of a small community pitted against a well healed developer.

It really boils down to EYA's proposed massing is inappropriate for the surrounding context which you described perfectly just as the setback from Eastern is wildly inadequate.

by Neighbor on Mar 31, 2014 10:56 am • linkreport

There have been a number of such 'transit oriented' development proposed for that area- have any of these groups as Cort's opposed any of them?

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Mar 31, 2014 1:18 pm • linkreport

Don't let Sabrina Eaton let you think that all of the neighbors are against this, by the way. I live next door to the site and most of the people in my building are delighted about the EYA proposal. And despite the "you must work/be on the payroll for EYA" claims that many of the opponents make (which might as well be them saying, "I have no logical response to you so I will attack your character instead"), we aren't being paid. If anything, the noises of construction will be a detriment for a time. But we're still in favor because of the long-term positive effects of greater population density to the area.

Seth Grimes's proposal to get rid of all the parking is ludicrous, by the way. I like living in Takoma, but living there car-free is not an option for the majority of the residents. Of course he doesn't care about removing all parking because the cars wouldn't be allowed to park on the Takoma Park MD streets (his jurisdiction). In the heart of downtown, there are enough businesses in walking distance that it's doable. That's not the case in Takoma, as much as I like it.

Of course, Takoma Park MD residents are currently moaning the Bikeshare station in the heart of the downtown strip because "it blocks the view of the gazebo." Which perhaps says it all, really. If they really want a car-free community then perhaps it's time they let things like population density near metro stations happen (or other transport options like Bikeshare) instead of opposing them for ridiculous reasons.

by GM on Apr 1, 2014 12:10 pm • linkreport

I agree there should be development at the Takoma site, but like many other nearby residents I have concerns about the specific plan put forward by EYA. Rather than fighting out the disagreements via this or other websites it would be much more productive if EYA and WMATA were to undertake a serious community engagement effort (one public meeting last summer hardly qualifies). I think a lot of the concerns could be addressed through that kind of process. Without that we are left with no explanation for why the zoning rules or the Takoma Master Plan requirements should be exceeded. Nor do we have an explanation from WMATA on how their traffic study found there would be no impact on streets that already are backed up through several traffic light changes (and not only during commuting peak times.

by Peter Kovar on Apr 1, 2014 2:00 pm • linkreport

@GM thinks you all can be April Fooled. Or perhaps he-she-it doesn't live in the Eastmont complex on Eastern Ave., which had a large contingent of residents at last week's WMATA meeting. They waved signs to oppose EYA's supersized development as their residents' group leader spoke in opposition. He-she-it probably doesn't live in the apartment building at 7036 Eastern, whose owner begged WMATA to preserve the buffering that would protect it from encroachment from the giant edifice EYA wants to construct. That buffering would be bulldozed under EYA's current bluprint.

I have disclosed my name and address here, revealing my interest in this project an across-the-street neighbor. Anybody reading this thread should bear that in mind when they decide who to believe. Anonymous website posters may not be who they claim to be. Astroturf PR companies regularly employ sock puppets in online forums to build an illusion of consensus behind their viewpoint.

Ms. Cort's group is funded by the developer of this project. She did not disclose that conflict of interest when she urged you to "ask the WMATA Board to move ahead with this project." She also described this building as being four stories tall instead of six, and neglected to say how zoning on this lot would allow a maximum building height of 50 feet, rather than the 72 feet in EYA's plan. After misrepresenting the project's dimensions, her post provides a "click here" link for people to send pre-formatted emails to WMATA that are composed by her developer-funded group. Sounds deceptive to me.

The developer has hired a PR company and lobbying firm that's inviting people who live too far away from this project to be affected by its negative ramifications to events where they're bought dinner and asked to write supportive letters on its behalf. To me, that sounds like building astroturf support, not grassroots support.

All of this is is part of their attempt to create an illusion that the current draft of their plan has widespread local backing. It must be cheaper for them to retain the services of Ms. Cort & Chesapeake Public Strategies instead actually making this a four-story building - as Ms. Cort's post claimed this was.

It is certainly possible that some apartment residents in Takoma Park support the project. But plenty of them don't. I've said exactly where they live. Which is more than GM did.

Two thirds of the speakers at last week's WMATA meeting were against this thing. Don't be April Fooled by anonymous commenters who aren't willing to sign their posts.

Sabrina Eaton
Eastern Avenue

by Sabrina Eaton on Apr 1, 2014 2:48 pm • linkreport

"They waved signs to oppose EYA's supersized development as their residents' group leader spoke in opposition. He-she-it probably doesn't live in the apartment building at 7036 Eastern, whose owner begged WMATA to preserve the buffering that would protect it from encroachment from the giant edifice EYA wants to construct. That buffering would be bulldozed under EYA's current bluprint. "

I do not live in TP or work for a developer (I am a metrorail rider and taxpayer who helps support metro though) Whether this is the ideal building for this site or not, it NOT supersized, and NOT a giant edifice. Use of such terms does not add to the credibility of project opponents.

And most people here are familiar with the work of CSG. Whoever funds them, they have been a voice for better planning, for better transit, for less autocentrism and sprawl, across this region for years, and a source of often insightful analysis. The repeated ad hominems against CSG do not cause me to be more sympathetic to your POV.

I have also been inside EYA homes and walked their developments, in Fairfax, in Navy Yard, and in Hyattsville, and I have never seen one that was not tasteful and attractive. I have a hard time believing they will endanger their reputation in the market by building something ugly.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 1, 2014 2:56 pm • linkreport

She also described this building as being four stories tall instead of six,

It is. At least from the street.

and neglected to say how zoning on this lot would allow a maximum building height of 50 feet, rather than the 72 feet in EYA's plan.

Wrong again, after this the project has to go to the DC zoning commission and EYA must make their case to for an exception to be made to the zoning. It's not like someone covered up a number with their hands and then yelled "fooled you, its bigger!" after people agreed to it.

The developer has hired a PR company and lobbying firm that's inviting people who live too far away from this project to be affected by its negative ramifications to events where they're bought dinner and asked to write supportive letters on its behalf.
Well, is there proof of this? What restaurant was it? If transparency is a big thing to you then it helps to not make unsourced allegations.

Don't be April Fooled by anonymous commenters who aren't willing to sign their posts.

Well, one reason people like to stay anonymous is because sometimes people make it personal, like accusing supporters of being bribed without any evidence. Others believe its the substance of an argument that should be considered and not discounted because of where they live or something similar.

by drumz on Apr 1, 2014 2:57 pm • linkreport

dear Cheryl

the form said the action was not for people in my area - you have it set for DC or DC and Md only?

Virginia has reps on the bd. Perhaps I should email Supervisor Hudgins directly?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 1, 2014 3:03 pm • linkreport

Sock puppets of the world, unite and take over

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sockpuppet_%28Internet%29

Sock puppets of the world, say hand it over (to EYA)

by Sabrina Eaton on Apr 1, 2014 3:14 pm • linkreport

Sabrina

when I write to Supevisor (and WMATA bd member) Hudgins you can be assured that I will use my exact name and address, and that your posting has motivated me.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 1, 2014 3:27 pm • linkreport

Oh we're posting wikipedia links now? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranoia

by BTA on Apr 1, 2014 3:32 pm • linkreport

Yeah, during the first round of the TTown Safeway PUD, some of the NIMBYs tried to get me fired. They sent a triumphal email with the usual nonsense about shilling, using the computer during work hours, making the company look bad.

The joke was on them, since she knew them from the Janney PTA and found them to be just as loathsome there as well. Womp-womp.

by Neil Flanagan on Apr 1, 2014 3:39 pm • linkreport

Simple answer

Use an anon handle online.

Use your actual name when lobbying pols and others.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 1, 2014 3:46 pm • linkreport

Go for it,AWalkerInTheCity! I am glad I have motivated you to provide original feedback under your real name instead of using pseudonyms & spam websites operated by developer-funded organizations.

by Sabrina Eaton on Apr 1, 2014 3:58 pm • linkreport

For the love of God people, let's show Ms Eaton just how wrong she is. Submit some comments in favor of the project at the link provided in the piece. Oh, here it is again.

http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/2041/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1277471

Get a grip, lady. The vast majority of the people commenting here discuss all kinds of articles on this site. If you think it's some sort of coordinated developer effort to ruin your view, it's not - nobody's that important.

by MLD on Apr 1, 2014 4:07 pm • linkreport

" I am glad I have motivated you to provide original feedback under your real name instead of using pseudonyms & spam websites operated by developer-funded organizations. "

Believe me, folks like you help to motivate me as an activist.

And there is of course nothing wrong with using a pseudonym on a message board, and plenty of reasons to do so.

BTW, I hope your work for the Cleveland Plain Dealer involves a fairer look at issues and organizations than you have demonstrated here.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 1, 2014 4:12 pm • linkreport

Personally, I look forward to the chance of moving into this or an apartment like this one day and ruining someone's neighborhood.

by drumz on Apr 1, 2014 4:19 pm • linkreport

And in honor of that last comment implying I am sock puppet, I will not only write to Supervisor Hudgins, but also to Mayor Euille, the other Va rep on the WMATA board.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 1, 2014 4:24 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 1, 2014 3:03 pm

"Virginia has reps on the bd. Perhaps I should email Supervisor Hudgins directly?"

Sure. I'm sure she'd like to hear from you.

by Cheryl Cort on Apr 1, 2014 4:41 pm • linkreport

Don't be fooled by those posting in favor of EYA's MEGADEATHSTAR project. They have a vested financial interest. Even the above article was brought to you by EYA's minions...

by MRWUFFLLEZZ on Apr 1, 2014 5:11 pm • linkreport

There are plenty of regular people out there who support sensible TOD like this plan. You don't have to have a "vested financial interest" to want to make it so more people can use Metro.

by MLD on Apr 1, 2014 5:21 pm • linkreport

Such misguided development can always be removed later via the Constitutional practice of eminent domain.

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Apr 1, 2014 5:26 pm • linkreport

My personal interest is that I like to be close to metro as I can. Therefore, I support plans that put housing near metro stations. The financial interest is that on balance, I'd like to not have to pay so much for this access so I'd rather not limit the supply of housing near metro just because some people don't like buildings of more than a few floors despite them living in a large city.

by drumz on Apr 1, 2014 5:29 pm • linkreport

Compare the two illustrations to see how open green space and so much more can be created.

http://wwwtripwithinthebeltway.blogspot.com/2014/03/takoma-dc-chock-2014.html

It's ashame that EYA, Cort's organization etc waste there time on promoting such demolition specials, rather than more sensible sites, such as obtaining the CVS site 1 1/2 blocks away, which is currently wasted by that single story building.

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Apr 1, 2014 5:35 pm • linkreport

@drumz so what you're saying is EYA needs to reduce their generous allocations for above ground residential parking and private pool club to maximize use of valuable land near metro?

What's that again? You don't really mean it. I thought so... Can you spell hypocrisy? :)

by MRWUFFLLEZZ on Apr 1, 2014 6:00 pm • linkreport

pools are a very common amenity in new buildings. they are also found in many old buildings

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 1, 2014 6:30 pm • linkreport

I'd rather not mandate a parking limit either way. Either upper or lower. Complaining about a pool seems a littlle petty and incongruous with complains that the building is too big. It'd still be too big if you replaced the pool with an apartment wouldn't it?

by Drumz on Apr 1, 2014 6:43 pm • linkreport

Excellent point MRWUFFLEZ. The argument this is some altruistic endeavor to house more people near metro falls apart when you realize how much space is allocated to above ground residential parking and the private pool club, but it's still entertaining to watch drumz & friends grasping for facts to distort. :)

by Neighbor on Apr 1, 2014 6:48 pm • linkreport

@Neighbor, MRWUFFLLEZZ

The altruism of car-free living and maximum housing near Metro is kind of hard to meet when you have to prove to the BZA that you are satisfying the demands of nutsos like those commenting here who would apparently prefer that this remain a plot of paved asphalt rather than anything useful at all.

Your entire line of criticism with this "well why does it have a pool and parking?!" is totally disingenuous, you already know the answer.

There's zero hypocrisy being thrown around by those in favor of this project. The hypocrisy is claiming that the current proposal is "massive" and then turning around and complaining about how it doesn't have enough housing.

by MLD on Apr 1, 2014 7:17 pm • linkreport

I wouldn't take EYA or it’s hypocritical minions too seriously. They're to EYA what American’s for Prosperity is to the Koch Bros.

by Neighbor on Apr 1, 2014 7:27 pm • linkreport

I'm not altruistic about my motivations. I like to have more options for places to live and I want to have a community not so dependent on personal vehicles for transportation.

But if you have some evidence that EYA is paying me off please let me know. I could probably do something useful with the money.

by drumz on Apr 1, 2014 7:32 pm • linkreport

Always glad to point out hypocrisy Neighbor. Their flimsy argument this is about maximizing a finite resource doesn’t hold water once you begin to look at the facts (above ground residential parking structures & private pool clubs).

The design could accommodate more units if they wished. However, EYA took the easy way. They want to land their 80 foot tall multi-acre MEGADEATHSTAR up against a sleepy two-lane road whose closest neighbors are two-story wood frame homes.

Even EYA’s own PR site stated how this blends with the surrounding neighborhood and enhances its unique character. This seems laughable since it fails miserably on both counts.

by MRWUFFLEZ on Apr 1, 2014 8:50 pm • linkreport

@Neighbor and @MRWUFFLEZ:

Seriously, since I'm supposedly on EYA's payroll, please let me know where the money is. Since you claim to know, please send me my check to 510 New York Avenue, Takoma Park, MD. Cash would be fine, too. Go ahead and slip it under the door. How much should I be expecting?

Or, maybe you're just spouting baseless claims about people being paid off when maybe, just maybe, there are residents of Takoma Park (and, OMG, maybe even residents of the jurisdiction where the building would be located) who may actually want more neighbors (and Neighbors) to make the place more vibrant and to help support the fine local businesses in Takoma and Takoma Park, and maybe support even more.

by EMD on Apr 1, 2014 9:05 pm • linkreport

Wasn't this article was written by a member of an outfit funded by EYA?

Thou dost protest too much, methinks.:)

by MRWUFFLEZ on Apr 1, 2014 9:24 pm • linkreport

@EMO Those of us suggesting EYA's plan could be improved to better serve the community can hardly be characterized as anti-neighbor or pro-parking lot. This kind of willful and simpleminded mischaracterization only serves to drown out dissenting voices, discourages public debate, and definitely casts doubts on your motives.

by Neighbor on Apr 1, 2014 9:41 pm • linkreport

Why doesn't the article address the fact that this is a National and local historic district? And best practices for smart growth in historic districts?

It seems like a huge omission given that we are talking about a region with many historic districts and neighborhoods.

by RFH_MD on Apr 1, 2014 9:47 pm • linkreport

Those of us suggesting EYA's plan could be improved to better serve the community can hardly be characterized as anti-neighbor or pro-parking lot. This kind of willful and simpleminded mischaracterization only serves to drown out dissenting voices, discourages public debate, and definitely casts doubts on your motives.

So what are the specifics? Seems like you want to get rid of the parking and pool and instead build more apartments?

by MLD on Apr 1, 2014 9:51 pm • linkreport

That's easy since specifics have been laid out numerous times in this thread :

"Some of the easy fixes to the current proposal include: increasing setback at eastern, breaking up monolithic facade on that elevation, and shortening structure until it is closer to metro tracks. Reduce parking for residents (which would allow the same number of people to live there but shrink volume of bldg). Keep as much permeable surface as exists now (runoff anyone?). Provide retail/commercial space closer to Carroll (true mixed use, and increasing public space)."

This was thoughtful, clear and concise, and although I wish I could take credit, these aren't my words.

by Neighbor on Apr 1, 2014 10:17 pm • linkreport

Except all of those things are entirely at odds with "allow the same number of people to live there" because they make the building drastically smaller or remove room for housing (if you carve out space for retail).

And does the building even reduce permeable space? It's a parking lot now.

by MLD on Apr 1, 2014 10:24 pm • linkreport

"those things are entirely at odds with "allow the same number of people to live there"

There are any number of creative ways to resolve that; for example can the above ground residential parking and private pool club. :)

by MRWUFFLLEZZ on Apr 1, 2014 10:28 pm • linkreport

Ms. Cort - The National Trust for Historic Preservation is listed as an ally on the Coalition for Smarter Growth website. http://www.smartergrowth.net/about/allies/

Any chance CSG consulted with the National Trust regarding best practices for infill development in a historic district before providing its support on this project?

It seems that this project presents the perfect opportunity to work with groups that value land AND historic conservation to show how new development can work in a historic neighborhood to accommodate growth.

by RFH_MD on Apr 1, 2014 11:11 pm • linkreport

Why doesn't the article address the fact that this is a National and local historic district? And best practices for smart growth in historic districts?

It seems like a huge omission given that we are talking about a region with many historic districts and neighborhoods.

The piece is asking the WMATA board to move forward with the project; but approval from the WMATA board is just one step of many.

The first step is for WMATA to convey the property to a developer. After that happens, then the developer must get all of the appropriate approvals from the Zoning Commission and the Historic Preservation Review Board.

The process would be the same for any development, for any developer.

by Alex B. on Apr 2, 2014 12:41 am • linkreport

@MRWUFFLEZ
There are any number of creative ways to resolve that; for example can the above ground residential parking and private pool club. :)

Can't you read? That was in the list of things. Let me break it all down for you.

Some of the easy fixes to the current proposal include: increasing setback at eastern
OK, do that. Now we've reduced the amount of housing a bit.

shortening structure until it is closer to metro tracks
Now we've reduced the amount of housing by half.

Reduce parking for residents
OK, let's reduce the amount of parking by 2/3. Now instead of half the housing there is in the proposal we have 2/3-3/4.

breaking up monolithic facade on that elevation
Uh oh! Now in order to break up the "monolith" we have to cut into the building, reducing housing back to 1/2 to 2/3 of the original. It also means we can't get rid of the courtyard toward the front of the building because that would make it more monolithic. Maybe you could make the courtyard smaller, so we're back to 2/3 to 3/4 of the housing in the original proposal.

Provide retail/commercial space closer to Carroll
Now we have to get rid of housing in order to fit in retail. So we end up with 2/3 of the housing of the original proposal.

Now you may say these are just estimates, but your "proposal" contains no thought or calculation as to how it would affect the amount of people who can live in the building. You simply say that it's possible.

by MLD on Apr 2, 2014 7:22 am • linkreport

I'm wrong, you probably can't even fit 2/3 of the housing you would otherwise have if you have to cut the building down so that it is only as high as the Metro tracks. See the building elevation at the end of this:
http://dc-mdneighborsfortakomatransit.org/130195_SETv13.pdf

by MLD on Apr 2, 2014 7:28 am • linkreport

CONGRATULATIONS! MLD thanks for demonstrating the proposed project's FRA is NOT APPROPRIATE FOR THE SITE, and can consequently be dismissed as a BAD DESIGN of corner cutting developer.

by Neighbor on Apr 2, 2014 8:24 am • linkreport

? Gonna need some explanation on that because what you said makes no sense. FRA?

by MLD on Apr 2, 2014 8:33 am • linkreport

@ Neighbor - was that a typo for FAR ? If so - good point.

by RFH_MD on Apr 2, 2014 8:45 am • linkreport

Nice try there lil'fella but nobody's buying that flimsy fiction.

The private pool club and above ground parking structure occupy a significant area of the proposal's footprint (30%). Neither of these features contributes to the number of units.

Simply putting parking below ground would provide area needed to compensate for any of the outlined changes without effecting the total number units, but clearly it's not about that for you.

What's that? Underground parking cuts into EYA's margins?!? So your real concern is EYA's profit margin?

This brings us back to my earlier assertion that you're NOT OBJECTIVE because you clearly have a vested financial interest. QED :)

by MRWUFFLLEZZ on Apr 2, 2014 8:52 am • linkreport

@MLD FAR = floor area ration
@RFH_MD thanks MLD makes this easy
@MRWUFFLEZ your logic is flawless!

by Neighbor on Apr 2, 2014 8:59 am • linkreport

While Greater Greater Washington welcomes and encourages debate and discussion in our comment section from all of our readers, no matter their viewpoint, this comment thread has begun to take up more of our moderators' and editors' time than we can commit to keeping it to the civil and well-informed standards our community has come to expect.

Since this thread has been open for more than 9 days and garnered over 200 comments, we're confident that the community has had ample opportunity to weigh in for all who wished to. We will now be closing this thread. Thank you to everyone who has participated in the discussion.

by David Alpert on Apr 2, 2014 9:49 am • linkreport

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