Greater Greater Washington

Pedestrians


Wheaton Plaza owners successfully block pedestrian path, saying it would "bring crime"

All over the region, malls are opening up to their surroundings, whether by redeveloping in a more urban format or simply creating more street connections. But in Wheaton, neighbors are fighting mall owners who want to close off a popular footpath.


Mall owner Westfield doesn't want this desire path to become a sidewalk. All photos by the author unless noted.

The neighbors call it Mt. McComas. Rising above McComas Avenue, it's a giant mound of backfill from the construction of Wheaton Plaza in 1959. Today, it's a meadow where deer roam and a well-worn dirt path delivers shoppers to Costco and Dick's Sporting Goods. Commuters use it as a shortcut to the Wheaton Metro station.

A new residential development on the property was originally going to include a paved sidewalk, but mall owners Westfield successfully blocked it due to concerns that it would bring crime into Kensington Heights, the neighborhood south and west of the mall.

Neighbors disagree. "Walking is a MUCH preferable way of getting there for the new home residents and everyone nearby," wrote neighbor Karen Cordry in a letter to the Planning Board. "Cutting off this access point is a big concern for us."

Current residents and builder embrace walkability

Neighbors originally fought the proposed development, but embraced the chance to get a new path, which saves people walking to downtown Wheaton and the Metro a lot of time. It's about a half-mile walk from McComas Avenue to the Metro using the path, compared to nearly a mile using the neighborhood's twisting, disconnected streets. There are a couple of other paths between the neighborhood and the mall, but they're not as direct.

That connection would presumably be an asset to 39UP, a new development of 40 townhomes and single-family homes on Mt. McComas and another property adjacent to the mall. The original plans, approved in 2009, included a new, dead-end street branching off of McComas Avenue, with a sidewalk connecting it to the mall.


Rendering of new homes at 39UP. Image from OPaL.

Local builder OPaL, which is building 39UP, emphasizes the neighborhood's urban, walkable character. In the development's other portion, on University Boulevard facing Wheaton Plaza, townhomes will face the mall's entrance road, with sidewalks running along it.

"There is a plethora of things going on in Wheaton that are incredibly promising," wrote owner Sean Ruppert in an email. "Our home owners can expect Wheaton to continue to become a more urban core with more and more things to do every year for the foreseeable future." He expects the homes to appeal to "empty nesters, young couples, and singles…all of whom are looking for a Metro-oriented location."

Mall owners say a path would bring crime to surrounding neighborhoods

But Westfield, the Australian company that owns the mall, doesn't want a sidewalk on Mt. McComas. "Westfield…remains opposed to any condition which encourages and in fact authorizes pedestrian from the general public to cross the Kensington Heights-McComas Avenue development and then enter the mall site," wrote vice president of development Clive MacKenzie, Sr., who appears to be based in New Zealand.

MacKenzie claimed that the path "might encourage [people] to enter the neighboring communities from the mall," causing "a substantial security concern." He added that drivers in the parking lot could hit people trying to walk to the mall.


Site plan showing 39UP (in color) and originally proposed connections to Wheaton Plaza (in brown). Image from OPaL.

As a result, developer Sterling Mehring of Kensington Heights, LLC asked the Planning Board for permission to swap the path for a public access easement, which would allow a path to be built some time in the future. The board approved the change, under the condition that they would revisit the path if Wheaton Plaza were ever redeveloped. In the meantime, Mehring worried that people would still be able to use the property as a shortcut.

"I want to be involved in walk able [sic] communities, its [sic] smart growth and it is smart marketing. The market wants that," wrote Mehring to the Planning Board. "The wording would make it the right of any citizen to ignore the established access and sidewalks, and to walk to the end of the public sidewalk easement in our community, cross our community property and walk up the hill to the mall creating a new volunteer path…and the new community would not be entitled to fence or restrict access on their property."

As malls open up to the neighborhood, Wheaton Plaza turns away

Montgomery County has given Westfield $10 million in subsidies over the past decade to build a parking garage and a Costco, which have drawn more customers to a mall that was struggling. Before that, the mall's previous owner received a grant for mall improvements that required them to improve and preserve pedestrian circulation.

But Westfield hasn't given much in return. Their new parking garage at the end of Reedie Drive blocked pedestrian connections to the mall from downtown Wheaton. And neighbors have been fighting a gas station Costco wants to build, on the basis that it would further weaken walkability.

"The least (and I do mean least!) they could do is to make this connection," wrote Donna Savage, land use chair for the Kensington Heights Civic Association, in a letter to the Planning Board.


The base of Mt. McComas.

Shopping malls aren't as popular as they used to be, and as a result, many area malls are taking on a more urban character. Ballston Common is opening up to the street to attract more foot traffic. Tysons Corner Center will get a new plaza connecting it to a new Metro station. And White Flint Mall, a few miles from Wheaton Plaza, will be torn down and rebuilt as an urban neighborhood. Those mall owners understand that encouraging pedestrian traffic, rather than increasing crime, would actually draw more customers, creating more business.

Unlike Tysons or White Flint, Wheaton Plaza is already part of a walkable and growing downtown. Yet rather than improving connections that could strengthen the mall and the surrounding community, Westfield is severing them.

A planner and architect by training, Dan Reed also writes his own blog, Just Up the Pike, and serves as the Land Use Chair for the Action Committee for Transit. He lives in downtown Silver Spring. 

Comments

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Who are these people who think pedestrian is somehow synonymous with criminal? Does driving somehow make you a good person?

by BTA on Aug 5, 2014 1:42 pm • linkreport

It's ok: everyone knows that the best deterrent to criminals is grass.

by Alex B. on Aug 5, 2014 1:44 pm • linkreport

For some reason, I'm guessing

"vice president of development Clive MacKenzie, Sr., who appears to be based in New Zealand"

is probably in his 60s or older? There seems to be a whole generation of old people who live elsewhere (see Courtland Milloy) who still associate non-drivers with undesirables.

I'm not that young, but I associate (most) nondisabled drivers with a degree of undesirability themselves. Certainly the stink of their exhaust fumes is no fun. Times change.

by Greenbelt on Aug 5, 2014 1:48 pm • linkreport

This all makes a lot of sense. They make very reasonable points.

"He added that drivers in the parking lot could hit people trying to walk to the mall."

For example, that makes a lot of sense. Nobody ever parks their car in a parking lot and then walks to the mall. It would only be pedestrians coming from beyond the parking lot who are at risk.

"Westfield…remains opposed to any condition which encourages and in fact authorizes pedestrian from the general public to cross the Kensington Heights-McComas Avenue development and then enter the mall site,"

This too makes a lot of sense. You see, there are currently no pedestrian connections between the mall and the neigborhood. Whoops, I just used The Google, and there are already three connections! http://goo.gl/maps/Z2do3

I'm sure a fourth would be the tipping point which introduces crime.

by Reasonable on Aug 5, 2014 1:54 pm • linkreport

@BTA, everyone who can drive, drives.

If youre not driving, that means
1) Youre poor
2) Youre disabled
3) Youre a drunk

If youre poor, youre a criminal.
If youre disabled, you wont be walking anyway.
If youre a drunk youre a criminal

Ergo, if youre not driving, you're a criminal. It's suburban logic 101. Stop skipping class.

by JJJJ on Aug 5, 2014 1:59 pm • linkreport

http://goo.gl/maps/HJkaG

There's your local committment to urbanism, btw. Forcing a mother to walk her stroller+child up a hill along a narrow road.

by Reasonable on Aug 5, 2014 2:00 pm • linkreport

It's ok: everyone knows that the best deterrent to criminals is grass.

Those weeds are the only thing keeping Wheaton Plaza from becoming a crime-ridden hellscape a la Gotham City.

by MLD on Aug 5, 2014 2:01 pm • linkreport

He added that drivers in the parking lot could hit people trying to walk to the mall.

I often drive around parking lots with no intention of getting out of my car and walking into a store. This guy must have the same hobby.

by drumz on Aug 5, 2014 2:25 pm • linkreport

Even though I could afford a (probably nice enough) car, I don't want one. I'm always amused by what thoughts suburban drivers have when they see me dressed up in my work clothes or even suit. I assume most of them think I have DUIs or something else "wrong" with me.

by BTA on Aug 5, 2014 2:30 pm • linkreport

I feel like this would have fit right in with the April 1 edition...

by BTA on Aug 5, 2014 2:31 pm • linkreport

@ BTA:Who are these people who think pedestrian is somehow synonymous with criminal? Does driving somehow make you a good person?

They never heard of the get-away car.

by Jasper on Aug 5, 2014 3:25 pm • linkreport

Just absurd. Considering that path's been there way over 15 years, is there any legal basis for stopping it from being blocked?

by asffa on Aug 5, 2014 3:26 pm • linkreport

Also, the developers are being utter fools in another way by not putting something highrise (or at least small commercial offices) there - the highrise across the street gets tons of people.

by asffa on Aug 5, 2014 3:30 pm • linkreport

+1 BTA "I feel like this would have fit right in with the April 1 edition..."

by JDC on Aug 5, 2014 3:31 pm • linkreport

Toucan on a traffic cam. http://tumblr.becausebirds.com/post/93646080367/toucan-discovers-a-traffic-cam-video

by asffa on Aug 5, 2014 3:42 pm • linkreport

I don't understand the objections raised here. The owner of the mall is saying that allowing mall customers to exit on foot might increase crime in surrounding neighborhoods? I guess I'm not seeing that as an objection that should be raised by the mall (supposedly the source of the criminals) rather than the surrounding neighborhoods.

by Gray on Aug 5, 2014 4:14 pm • linkreport

Live in Wheaton. Tear down that mall. It's a blight on the downtown. Extend the Wheaton downtown by burying Viers Mill and the Metro and create a walkable plaza out of the entire acreage.

by Redline SOS on Aug 5, 2014 4:17 pm • linkreport

Redline SOS What? No. It's got a Costco and a Mayorga, and a Target & everybody uses it. Even got Macy's for boring people. Ate at Elevation burger yesterday. How can anybody feel such hate toward a Mall with a train inside?

by asffa on Aug 5, 2014 4:22 pm • linkreport

I don't understand the objections raised here. The owner of the mall is saying that allowing mall customers to exit on foot might increase crime in surrounding neighborhoods? I guess I'm not seeing that as an objection that should be raised by the mall (supposedly the source of the criminals) rather than the surrounding neighborhoods.

That's what makes it so ridiculous - people in the community WANTED the path but the mall owners did their best to kill it because they were supposedly concerned for the community's safety.

by MLD on Aug 5, 2014 4:24 pm • linkreport

@affsa:
That's not a train in Wheaton Plaza. It doesn't run on rails. It's actually Bus Rapid Transit.

by Matt' Johnson on Aug 5, 2014 4:24 pm • linkreport

That this was approved says something about those that approved the plan as well.

What I don't understand is that it seems this cut thru has been used for a while - meaning that the objections they raise about the future would have applied to the past - but it hasn't been an issue for them.

I was thinking what is at the heart of this but then I decided that they were honest about the "bringing crime" thing as the basis for this - they are just wrong and stupid. I guess they don't understand that criminals driving cars are just as likely to prey on people in a parking lot as those on foot.

by ET on Aug 5, 2014 4:25 pm • linkreport

Matt Johnson. huh. It's true. I'm going to have to adjust my thinking.

ET I think said objection to the path was insulting everybody in the neighborhood and their customers.
I want the path to exist, it's been there for a long time, its useful to many and has done nobody harm, and shouldn't be removed.

by asffa on Aug 5, 2014 4:38 pm • linkreport

That's why my neighborhood right up against Downtown Silver Spring won't allow for sidewalks, becasue they fear the kind of people who would have a need to walk, so instead they walk in the street. 50 years after Jane Jacobs talked about eye's on the street makeing it safer. We have nothing to fear, but pedestrians themselves.

by Thayer-D on Aug 5, 2014 4:49 pm • linkreport

Westfield does not seem to want to admit that the Mall of the 20th century is falling out of favor, and instead are interested in pouring money into keeping their malls relevant in the old park and shop mentality. Their proposed redevelopment of the Montgomery Mall suggests the same - adding more retail and restaurants, not changing the fundamental of the property - even though it has a major transit center as a portion of their approvals. We can only hope Wheaton is eventually sold to a development company, or a retail company not afraid of redevelopment - such as the owners of the Columbia Mall, that are the center of plans to add office, retail and apartments on the open areas of the parking lots. Ironic it's usually the community that is worried about a new path causing crime, not the big mall - why is the mall so concerned about the community's desires here?

by Gull on Aug 5, 2014 4:59 pm • linkreport

Curious why is a busy Mall recently updated already getting labeled as irrelevant/falling out of favor/should be demolished/redeveloped/sold? Under what evidence?

by asffa on Aug 5, 2014 5:10 pm • linkreport

@Reasonable

McComas had sidewalks installed this summer except in front of the development, and it looks like sidewalks are included in their plan.

I agree though, I'm in the neighborhood and some other streets could use some sidewalks.

by Wheaton on Aug 5, 2014 5:13 pm • linkreport

ET criminals are probably more likely to use cars to be able to get away quickly, claiming that was reason to close the path was all just a ridiculous ruse.

by asffa on Aug 5, 2014 5:15 pm • linkreport

It does seem as if Westfield is behind the times in the US, even if they aren't in their overseas divisions. But I agree that MoCo Planning fell down on the job here, by not insisting on the connection. They aren't unique though, most of the suburban jurisdictions allow for this kind of mistake to be made.

Most of the big "shopping mall" companies in the US have come to understand the need for change and are adding housing and other elements to their projects.

Basically, malls are becoming open air lifestyle centers. And new developments are lifestyle centers based on the Bethesda Row model. E.g., Mosaic District, Clarendon Row, etc.

by Richard Layman on Aug 5, 2014 5:20 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted because this commenter continues to use a false email address in violation of the comment policy.]

by bill on Aug 5, 2014 5:25 pm • linkreport

Richard Layman - Nice to talk about the open air if the air quality isn't unhealthy. Was Code Orange yesterday, and inside Wheaton Mall, it was great.

by asffa on Aug 5, 2014 5:26 pm • linkreport

asffa

The addition at Springfield is outdoors, Landmark will be largely torn down and redone as outdoors. Even Tysons now has a little outdoor plaza next to the metro station. Mosaic is a new outdoor shopping area. The last indoor expansion at Tysons was a few years ago.

by CrossingBrooklynFerry on Aug 5, 2014 5:39 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted because this commenter continues to use a false email address in violation of the comment policy.]

by bill on Aug 5, 2014 5:42 pm • linkreport

CrossingBrooklynFerry - Wheaton Mall could probably fit a little outdoor plaza in between the Giant and Starbucks (If in the evenings, they allowed people to play music there and it had wifi, that'd be really cool, but especially considering their path comment, I'm not sure Westview has cool management.)

by asffa on Aug 5, 2014 5:53 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted because this commenter continues to use a false email address in violation of the comment policy.]

by bill on Aug 5, 2014 6:06 pm • linkreport

Alex B- "It's ok: everyone knows that the best deterrent to criminals is grass."
hence the FBI's deforestation buffer zone

by asffa on Aug 5, 2014 6:31 pm • linkreport

JCPenney and Sears Holdings (KMart and Sears) have been on life-support for several years. Both Wheaton Plaza and Montgomery Mall stand to lose an anchor in the near future.

by Frank IBC on Aug 5, 2014 6:41 pm • linkreport

bill Doubt it. And none I'm aware of, recently.

by asffa on Aug 5, 2014 6:41 pm • linkreport

@ Bill:

"They are not demolishing indoor Malls in Virginia."

Springfield Mall - demolished except for the three anchors last year

Seven Corners - indoor section between the two anchors demolished over a decade ago

Landmark Mall - will be demolished in the near future

Ballston Common - part of the mall will be demolished

by Frank IBC on Aug 5, 2014 6:56 pm • linkreport

To answer the question, Maryland law requires 20 years for defacto easement by continuous use.

by kbike on Aug 5, 2014 7:03 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted because this commenter continues to use a false email address in violation of the comment policy.]

by bill on Aug 5, 2014 7:42 pm • linkreport

Facepalm @ mall owner who doesn't even live in USA...

by Dave G on Aug 5, 2014 8:34 pm • linkreport

bill There was a terrible incident in 2009, and something 40 years ago.

by asffa on Aug 5, 2014 8:52 pm • linkreport

bill - 1. from a development standpoint, you keep what works and change what doesn't. Wheaton Mall works well enough the way it is since it has been revived (target, etc.), but the reality is that lifestyle centers are the future.

2. The number of new malls that are being constructed is infinitesimal and the failed malls are being converted to the lifestyle format, as someone pointed out about Springfield Mall.

But look up articles about where the new Atlanta Braves stadium is relocating to in the suburbs. That area is becoming a massive lifestyle center. It's like Tysons, moving toward a mixed use land use framework, adding housing to a strongly office district. Although unlike Tysons now, it lacks subway/heavy rail service.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumberland,_Georgia

That kind of mixed use re-creationism is the future of malls, which is certainly confirmed by writings by the ICSC and the ULI.

The links to these ULI reports are on my blog:

Reinventing Suburban Business Districts
Reinventing America's Suburban Strips

3. We also haven't mentioned Reston Town Center as a model. It will thrive even more with Metrorail.

4. The issue is how to position the malls that exist to be successful going forward.

This came up in a side conversation I had at CNU last year wrt Lake Forest Mall. The property manager was talking to a markets guy about how to integrate open air markets. I said that LFM is in an outlying location with almost no pedestrian traffic and frankly, it should just be torn down.

Anyway, White Flint is another issue. I do agree with Lord & Taylor that they can be successful there going forward even as the land use organization changes completely. But they've been litigious instead of trying to work with the new land use regime. (L&T historically has been somewhat comfortable with off-mall store locations, like the one in DC.)

5. Wheaton Mall is way better placed than most to improve going forward given the proximity to Metrorail and the intensification that is going on around it. Think back to what the area was like in 1999.

by Richard Layman on Aug 6, 2014 6:09 am • linkreport

... wrt the pedestrian (or bicyclist or transit user) is a criminal trope, when I worked in Balt. County I was introduced to the term "loot rail" which is how some residents saw "light rail" service, as a way for Baltimore City residents to come up to Lutherville and steal from the stores there.

In response to a letter about bike trails and crime I responded with national data about bike trails being safer than adjacent areas, and the point that far more crimes are committed in association with automobile use, a fact confirmed by the local police chief, yet we don't cry out for the closure of roads and the banning of cars.

It's all about the other.

by Richard Layman on Aug 6, 2014 6:17 am • linkreport

Dear Greenbelt,

What compelled you to take a good article about a stupid mall owner and turn it into a swipe against an entire generation with that over 60 comment? I'm over 60 and I certainly do not associate walking with crime. I'm sure that many of the nearby residents who want the sidewalk are over 60.

by woody brosnan on Aug 6, 2014 7:05 am • linkreport

@ Bill -

"which will be replaced with a Nordstroms, Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylors, Dillards, etc."

I'd love to see your source for this. But first, to which of the three malls that I listed - Springfield, Landmark, Balllston - are you referring? The Lord & Taylor at Landmark closed several years ago, and they aren't expanding in this area any time soon.

by Frank IBC on Aug 6, 2014 8:21 am • linkreport

bill,

Landmark is being torn down with the exception of the anchor stores.

http://alexandriava.gov/planning/info/default.aspx?id=71190

The redevelopment of Springfield Mall is about complete. A good part of the mall was torn down in the process.

http://fcrevit.org/springfield/index.htm

by CyclistinAlexandria on Aug 6, 2014 9:01 am • linkreport

Oh hey look it's rick/tim/steve/bill/whatever his name of the week is! Hello! Keep fighting the good fight!

by MLD on Aug 6, 2014 9:02 am • linkreport

The conspiracy by Maryland to keep Maryland down for the benefit of malls in Va. is real.

by drumz on Aug 6, 2014 9:06 am • linkreport

LOL @ any person or jurisdiction who thinks traditional malls are a positive.

by Low Headways on Aug 6, 2014 9:10 am • linkreport

I cannot reveal too much, but let's just say this Maryland mall conspiracy starts at the highest of levels.

Overheard at their last secret meeting:

-"The things you own end up owning you."

-"It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything."

-"Man, I see in [this] club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God d*** it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy s**t we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off."

-"You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your f*****g khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world."

-"Warning: If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don't you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can't think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it? Do you read everything you're supposed to read? Do you think every thing you're supposed to think? Buy what you're told to want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and mas*******on. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you're alive. If you don't claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned- [name removed]."

-"In the world I see - you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Wheaton Mall. You'll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You'll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway."

I think these anti-mall folks are pretty serious.

by The Truth™ on Aug 6, 2014 9:25 am • linkreport

The Wheaton Mall is a pit, even with the Costco and Target. That parcel needs to be mixed use and tie in to downtown Wheaton. The traffic nightmares it creates are solely derived from it's design as an outdated "traditional mall". If we want to calm traffic and have a livable downtown Wheaton, the Westfield parcel should be torn down and redeveloped in a more urbanist manner with a commons area burying Viers Mill and making the former mall tie in to downtown.

by Redline SOS on Aug 6, 2014 9:38 am • linkreport

Why does Viers Mill Road need to be "buried"?

by Frank IBC on Aug 6, 2014 10:31 am • linkreport

@bill: kbike, can you provide a useful link to give more information regarding the "20 years for defacto easement by continuous use" please????

See DNR v Ocean City, 332 A2d 630 (1975), quoting Thomas v. Ford, 63 Md. 346, 351-52 (1885):

"It is certainly a settled doctrine in this State that public roads or ways of any kind can only be established by public authority, or by dedication, or by long user by the public, which, though not strictly prescription, yet bears so close an analogy to it that it is not inappropriate to apply to the right thus acquired the term prescriptive. Hence the existence of a public way may be established by evidence of an uninterrupted user by the public for twenty years; the presumption being that such long continued use and enjoyment by the public of such way had a legal rather than an illegal origin. Day v. Allender, 22 Md. 511...."

by JimT on Aug 6, 2014 10:43 am • linkreport

@ Redline SOS

While I agree, I don't see that happening now that Westfield and Costco have invested heavily there. There are also a number of better candidates for mall teardowns: PG Plaza, City Place, White Flint, City Place, Lakeforest, oh and uh City Place.

Honestly, the site screaming the most for redevelopment is the WMATA parcel at Wheaton station across the street from the mall. It's literally smack dab in the center of downtown yet it's only use is as a bus loop--a pretty good candidate for the most underutilized site in Montgomery County.

by King Terrapin on Aug 6, 2014 11:13 am • linkreport

Someone please put Iverson out of its misery.

by The Truth™ on Aug 6, 2014 11:15 am • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted because this commenter continues to use a false email address in violation of the comment policy.]

by bill on Aug 6, 2014 11:29 am • linkreport

Commenters,

This commenter who now goes by the name of 'bill' has been continuing to post under false email addresses for a long time now. We have repeatedly informed him that using a false address is not permitted on GGW, but he has simply ignored this.

I have deleted every comment bill made on this thread. I will further continue to delete any comment he makes, regardless of the merit of its content.

To bill: If you would like to comment on GGW you are welcome to, but you must email us at info@ggwash.org with a real email address, agree to abide by our comment policy, and then comment under that email address (which we will keep private, but need so that we can contact you about violations).

To other commenters: Please do not reply to comments by bill. Instead, please use the "report" function to report any you see. Matt, who does most of the comment moderation, is traveling this week, and so he won't be able to see comments as quickly as usual, but he will get comment reports faster.

If you reply to any of his comments, going forward your comment will also be deleted (in order to remove any incentive for these comments in violation of the policy). So please help us keep the comment section working well by not encouraging the bad behavior but reporting it to us immediately.

Thank you.

by David Alpert on Aug 6, 2014 11:39 am • linkreport

So when are they going to convert the inside of the mall to automobile only, so that they don't have any of these crime-bringing pedestrians in the immediate vicinity of the stores?

by engrish_major on Aug 6, 2014 11:55 am • linkreport

If Macy's ever goes under, they will probably take most enclosed malls along with them.

by Frank IBC on Aug 6, 2014 12:23 pm • linkreport

Wonders at the furious response to people liking a popular Mall in Md.
TheTruth - unfortunately, for that fight club quote - when was this wonderful time in recent US history (post-Fight club) without a war?

by asffa on Aug 6, 2014 12:23 pm • linkreport

"So when are they going to convert the inside of the mall to automobile only, so that they don't have any of these crime-bringing pedestrians in the immediate vicinity of the stores?"

I'm having a flashback to the beginning of "Police Squad".

by Frank IBC on Aug 6, 2014 12:25 pm • linkreport

As others have noted, the mall owner's arguments against the pedestrian access from Mt. McComas make no sense: people have been walking to the mall that way for many years; there are also several other pedestrian access points from McComas Drive to the mall's ring road; and the mall owner wants to protect the surrounding neighborhood from criminals leaving the mall(?!), while the neighborhood wants the access.

So perhaps the opposition was actually payback by the mall owner to the neighborhood for its ongoing opposition to allowing a Costco gas station on the mall property?

by John Henry Holliday on Aug 6, 2014 12:27 pm • linkreport

@ asffa

I know what you mean, but there is really not much comparison between our recent wars and the "great" wars mentioned in the quote. Few Americans had any real exposure to the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. At most, they heard sound bites and saw news clips that looked like a movie trailer or video game. They did not grow victory gardens, hold rubber drives, lose a family member, or report for the draft. That actually makes the Fight Club quote more apt than I had intended.

This, however, is a serious digression from the thread, and I do not wish to hijack it further. But really this was not a "real" war for most Americans.

by The Truth™ on Aug 6, 2014 12:33 pm • linkreport

Frank IBC,

Or the Blues Brothers.

by drumz on Aug 6, 2014 12:34 pm • linkreport

John Henry Holliday - Unless my memory is off - Costco got a couple million dollars from County Exec Ike Leggett to open in Wheaton.

But maybe that he indirectly gets to reap rewards off the County like that wasn't enough.

by asffa on Aug 6, 2014 12:36 pm • linkreport

In my community, too -- Mantua -- I have heard that, years ago, residents resisted sidewalks because of crime fears.

So, can someone explain to me (no snark?), what those fears may be based on? I'm obviously missing something. (The best way to combat something is to understand where the opposition is coming from)

Anyone?

by dc wonk on Aug 6, 2014 12:40 pm • linkreport

Ironically, six Fairfax County police officers speaking at a local Night Out event last evening warned county residents that increased connectivity to Tysons and the rail stations will also increase the risk of crime in neighboring communities, such that residents need to pay more attention to what is going on in their neighborhood.

by TMT on Aug 6, 2014 1:01 pm • linkreport

TheTruth - I can't even begin to respond to this without being way off-topic, too. I will say that whenever some tool in the media starts presenting young people as uncaring lazy "slackers". Their liberty - almost nobody puts more people in prison than the US - their health, natural resources, opportunities for education without needing to repay for the rest of their lives, the wealth of this land (over 40% owned by the very few), jobs paying over minimum wage, etc. - their futures been stolen. The government is run by corporate interests rather than themselves and their votes. When the media presents differently and blames the kids, they are getting it wrong. That's how I feel, and I'm older.

by asffa on Aug 6, 2014 1:02 pm • linkreport

@dc wonk
So, can someone explain to me (no snark?), what those fears may be based on? I'm obviously missing something. (The best way to combat something is to understand where the opposition is coming from)

"If you're so poor that you can't afford a car and you have to walk places to get around, then you can only be here to steal something from us."

by MLD on Aug 6, 2014 1:13 pm • linkreport

MLD Yes. if they're holding a drink and a bag of skittles, they're really up to something

by asffa on Aug 6, 2014 1:16 pm • linkreport

"You are not out for a healthy walk, you are just casing the neighborhood."

by The Truth™ on Aug 6, 2014 1:16 pm • linkreport

City Place doesn't need to be torn down, just gutted (again).

Given that JCPenney is on the side of Wheaton Plaza closest to Viers Mill Road, if that chain fails, that would create the opportunity to redevelop that part of the site without necessarily tearing down the whole mall.

by Frank IBC on Aug 6, 2014 2:11 pm • linkreport

Frank IBC any clear reason why you want to bust up this mall?

by asffa on Aug 6, 2014 2:40 pm • linkreport

I don't have any animus against Wheaton Plaza per se. I spent many happy hours of my youth there.

I just think that Wheaton specifically, with its existing "downtown" area just across the street, has the opportunity to become something even better if the street grid could extend to the west side of Viers Mill.

You don't have that opportunity at, for example, Montgomery Mall or Fair Oaks Mall, which are both freeway-oriented.

by Frank IBC on Aug 6, 2014 3:40 pm • linkreport

Malls rule. Wheaton Plaza, not so much.

In the cases of malls such as Springfield and Landmark, it's as much a case of the surrounding neighborhoods failing as the malls themselves. If the neighborhoods were flush with big spending shoppers, those malls would stick around.

by Steve D. on Aug 6, 2014 4:57 pm • linkreport

Frank IBC I think if they take down parts of Wheaton Mall, they'll put up in its place more of those cheap-looking, ugly MetroPointe style buildings no one loves.

by asffa on Aug 6, 2014 5:12 pm • linkreport

What Wheaton Plaza really needs is a Burlington Coat Factory.

@ assfa - Agreed, that building is totally cheap-looking.

@ drumz - "Or the Blues Brothers." Yesss! :)

by Frank IBC on Aug 6, 2014 11:05 pm • linkreport

Surprise, surprise. Give out millions in subsidies to a business, and they actually fight the exact efforts that they got the subsidy for. Even if what they're fighting will help their bottom line.

by Vinnie on Aug 11, 2014 9:56 am • linkreport

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