Greater Greater Washington

Parking


DC USA garage to offer daily and monthly parking

The DC USA garage, which is never even half full, may finally see some more use, but at the cost of increasing congestion in Columbia Heights: ODMPED has reached an agreement to rent out 350 spaces for daily and monthly use in addition to the current hourly parking.


Photo (not DC USA) by skycaptaintwo.

The space will cost $6/day for parkers who arrive before 9 am and leave by 7 pm. Monthly spaces will cost $145/month. In addition, the hourly rates will increase, now costing $1.50 for each of the first two hours, then $1/hour for the next two, and jumping to $12 total for people who stay 4-12 hours.

As DCist notes, that would definitely bias the usage in favor of commuters and add to rush hour traffic. They presumably chose the "early bird" pricing structure to discourage shoppers from staying long periods of time, but will have the effect of forcing people to drive in during the morning rush and leave during the evening rush. Want to stay late until it's less crowded? Too bad.

The DC government pays for operating losses in the garage, but has to get agreement from Target and the mall developer to make any chances. Target had reportedly been resisting any other use of the space, especially a non-car use like storage or a bowling alley.

Operating the garage has been costing the DC government $2.1 million. While it's great DC was able to bring in these successful stores, it might not have been so smart to agree to pay costs for a garage while giving stores a complete veto over any changes to reduce massive losses.

A deal will be good for the DC budget by stemming the hemorrhaging of money from this overbuilt parking. Still, it seems that there has to be a way to structure a parking program that encourages off-peak driving more than peak driving.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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First why not sell the spots to local residents to store their car(s) annually and then open it up to others. I am sure there are plenty that would love to have the car stored in a space for weeks on end and then donÂ’t have to deal with street sweeping or trying find a place near their house every time they leave.

by RJ on Feb 3, 2010 2:02 pm • linkreport

I can't imagine that bowling in a cold, dark concrete parking garage would be fun or profitable at all.

by Ron on Feb 3, 2010 2:04 pm • linkreport

While not perfect, this development is better than the status quo.

It is quite the cautionary tale for any other jurisdiction with any big ideas for a huge, unnecessary parking structure.

by Cavan on Feb 3, 2010 2:13 pm • linkreport

why was the over abundance of parking built in the first place again? Was it due to required parking space minimums? $6/day is really cheap and definitely is designed more for commuters then shoppers or residents.

by Bianchi on Feb 3, 2010 2:16 pm • linkreport

@Bianchi, the developers wanted it because the retail tenants they had in mind demanded it.

Best case now is to make the best use of the space and use it as a datapoint of how much parking is actually necessary when building on top of a Metro station.

by Alex B. on Feb 3, 2010 2:25 pm • linkreport

Man, if you thought traffic on Irving St. or Park Rd. was bad before, get ready for when this goes through. Not that I drive, but the bus takes forever to get through there.

@RJ: Seems to me you can have your reserved parking place for $145 per month.

@Bianchi: I think DC rules required them to build this much parking. Also, they didn't think that most people would use transit to get to DCUSA rather than drive. I also don't understand the $6/day charge - that's even less than the monthly charge. Usually the monthly charge for a garage is a little bit of savings over paying the daily rate.

The reality is that shoppers aren't using the parking, so DC wants to do something with the space so they can recoup some costs. This seems to be the best they've been able to get so far out of Target, who for some reason are dead-set against any non-car use for the space.

by MLD on Feb 3, 2010 2:27 pm • linkreport

@MLD, @Bianchi: To clarify, no, zoning did not require them to build this much parking. It required them to build MORE. But they got a special exception to lower it. The amount they chose was driven by the retailers who thought it would be necessary.

Now that it's clearly not necessary, they should stop standing in the way of DC repurposing the unused space.

by David Alpert on Feb 3, 2010 2:30 pm • linkreport

Whole Foods walked away from DCUSA because they wanted X amount of spots to be reserved for Whole Foods Customers. They were denied because it was thought the parking lot was going to be soooooo sought after. As a result no whole foods. I would have rather had a Whole Foods in DCusa than a parking lot full of maryland tags. But that aside. I think there are plenty of neighborhood serving uses for the unused level that dont involve parking. I think a bowling alley would actually work quite well there. A developer could easily do a build out of the level to house a bowling alley. Or as was done with the e street cinema it could be made into a theater.

by John on Feb 3, 2010 2:33 pm • linkreport

yeah, get out of the way Target! Who approved such an unbalanced contract? Anyway, there is room now for Whole Foods. There's retail space and they can have their designated spots, and still room for bowling and theater.

by Bianchi on Feb 3, 2010 2:46 pm • linkreport

In every standard commercial lease, its called "right of first refusal and determination for additional development". It gives the anchor tenant the right to determine what kind of any future retail can and go where in the development. Why do all anchor tenants in new developments get these rights? Because they have the most to lose in the deal and are taking the greatest risk, and without them, there is no "development". Target isn't against re-purposing, they are against competition. Target, rightfully so has the final say about what kind of businesses can come there, so a competing retailer can't open up next to them.

David, I know you've only been living in DC for a couple of years, and only experienced Columbia Heights as the developed and renovated version it is today, but for those of us who've lived here longer, it would have been worthwhile for DC to sign over every first born in the city for the next decade to convince Target to locate to columbia heights. Parcel after parcel of abandoned land filled with burned out cars and dead bodies. Entire blocks of buildings boarded up, where the hookers and heroin addicts would hang out. A murder rate that mirrored SE.

Half the cities own planning and development department and most of the city residents expected DCUSA to be a utter failure and Target, as the anchor was going to be the one to suffer most if it was.

That was what Columbia Heights was as recently as 2006. Now its filled to the rafters with nouveau 20 something urban hipsters with who spend their 6 figure salaries on 7 dollar draft beers and $2,600 a month 1 bedroom apartments, built on land that was occupied 2 years ago by a burned out crack house; and have all the time in the world to complain about ridiculous trite things like how "biblically wrong it is" to have an unused level of parking and the inconvenience of road construction.

Columbia Heights is the poster child for responsible and effective urban renewal and redevelopment. Anyone who criticizes it as otherwise has absolutely no idea what they are talking about.

by nookie on Feb 3, 2010 3:02 pm • linkreport

nookie- Life long DC resident here and your comment is just sliiiiiiiightly over exaggerated. And by slightly I mean pretty ridiculously so. CH was poised for redevelopment regardless of DCUSA. In fact. Had those parcels of land not been tied up for so long while backroom deals were being brokered they may have been snatched up and developed even sooner. CH is one stop north of U street. A neighborhood over from Adams Morgan. The second the escalators opened at the CH Metro station CH's gentrified fate was sealed. Not because Target moved in and started selling plastic stuff made in china. While I didn't grow up in CH I went to school with people who did and spent time in CH from the mid 90's on. And I lived to tell the tale!

by John on Feb 3, 2010 3:21 pm • linkreport

"Whole Foods walked away from DCUSA because they wanted X amount of spots to be reserved for Whole Foods Customers. They were denied because it was thought the parking lot was going to be soooooo sought after."

I may be misremembering, but I thought Whole Foods was denied dedicated parking because Target had some sort of say as the anchor tenant (although unrealistic expectations about demand likely played a part in it). The reasoning I heard was that since Target didn't have (or require) dedicated parking for themselves, none of the other tenants should have it. Losing Whole Foods was a shame, although I was more upset to see Elwood Thompson back out - and I think DCUSA would have been a great location for the urban Trader Joe's.

As someone who lives within a block of the DCUSA complex, I agree with nookie's comments (although I haven't been either a 20 something or an urban hipster for quite some time). Columbia Heights was desolate (although there were other equally, or more, desolate areas in DC) as late as the early 2000s. The renewal had started prior to 2006 (the new Giant, the Tivoli, some new apartment/condo buildings), although some of that may have been in anticipation of the DCUSA complex. Perhaps, in hindsight, some decisions re parking were wrong - but the area's development has certainly been a success.

I wonder how those who purchase monthly passes will be granted access - will the main entrance be left open 24/7? Will there be an attendant present at all times?

by dcd on Feb 3, 2010 3:35 pm • linkreport

It may or may not have been worth it politically for DC to accept building and maintaining an overly large parking garage as the price of attracting Target. That doesn't make Target's demand any less ill-considered, nor does it excuse their current refusal to permit other use of the spcae.

by Erica on Feb 3, 2010 3:47 pm • linkreport

I don't see what's not to like about this. It keeps cars out of downtown, it adds metro riders, it brings more people to DCUSA/Cohi. Though the hours thing isn't perfect, it's not any different than the pricing structure at most garages. I don't totally get that, generally speaking, but maybe having "early bird" rates encourages people do decide in advance to park at your garage - it gets them there before they're competing with meters.

I suspect, in reality, they will sell monthly passes for most of the spots available. This seems like a really good deal for people who currently drive all the way downtown and work on the green line. It will probably be about a break-even on time for them and definitely cheaper.

For those concerned about traffic, I seriously doubt 350 cars a day (over a several hour period) is going to make a lot of difference. Besides which, they'll most likely have been driving in to DC anyway. They might have already been on 14th Street, who knows, but they will definitely be coming from some artery.

by Jamie on Feb 3, 2010 3:53 pm • linkreport

Target's actions are hurting DC and the community. Target's acting like a bad neighbor. Cut it out Target!

by Bianchi on Feb 3, 2010 3:54 pm • linkreport

The single biggest reason for the renewal of Columbia Heights is the Metro station. Remember, that station (and the missing link of the Green Line) didn't open until 1999 - not all that long ago. When you look back at how much it has changed in the past 10 years, the transition is remarkable.

by Alex B. on Feb 3, 2010 3:57 pm • linkreport

"The single biggest reason for the renewal of Columbia Heights is the Metro station...When you look back at how much it has changed in the past 10 years, the transition is remarkable."

While the metro is a crucial piece of the puzzle, it is absurd to think that things would have come along just fine without DCUSA. Sure, a lot's changed since 1999 - but most of that change took place in the last 3 years, when the development was already well under way. The only non-Latino business that was open in Columbia Heights in 2006 was Wonderland. In January 2005, there were none.

While a metro station is a very important piece of redeveloping a neighborhood, it's not enough on it's own. How are things looking at Fort Totten? It's a parking lot. Rhode Island Avenue? Yeah, there's a mall. I'm not even sure you could technically walk to Giant if you lived around there. Anacostia?

Even Shaw/Howard University, right down the street from the U Street metro, while certainly gentrifying, is a long way from being anywhere as interesting as Columbia Heights. I doubt a lot of people would say they go to "Shaw/Howard University" for anything other than going to class or going home.

I mean even some places where tons of money HAS been spent, like the waterfront, are looking pretty dicey.

A metro station is not a magic bullet.

by Jamie on Feb 3, 2010 4:11 pm • linkreport

Ellwood Thompsons has not to my knowledge walked away from DCUSA. They actually signed a lease and afterwards had trouble getting enough financing for their build out. Last I heard they were only 15% shy and still looking to open at somepoint in the hopefully not too distant future. As for who denied whole foods use of a dedicated area of the lot I'm not 100 percent. At this point I would rather the city offer a cherry deal to a developer to put in a bowling alley or movie theater. Or both. They are already out 2 mil a year so whats another incentive if it locks a theater into a lease. That would assure the remaining retail vacancies get built out and make the neighborhood more enjoyable and accessible for those who live here. Not for suburbanites using it as a layover.

by John on Feb 3, 2010 4:14 pm • linkreport

"The only non-Latino business that was open in Columbia Heights in 2006 was Wonderland. In January 2005, there were none."

Err.. the Giant is a Latino business? Personally I think the Giant + the Metro were the two biggest things initially that spurred renewal. Food security is a huge thing that gets people into an area. DCUSA has completely changed the area however. It's amazing the difference in the number of people frequenting the area since that has opened. I'd be interested to see what Metro ridership at the C. Heights station was like before and since DCUSA.

by MLD on Feb 3, 2010 4:18 pm • linkreport

Clearly it was metro. Look at U St. When I moved there in 1990 there were exactly 2 businesses between 11th and 14th and the giant hole in the ground: Bens and Lee's Flowers. Around the time the metro opened Polly's came. Then the memorial and museum and several different clubs and coffee shops that came and went, then the rite aid. Now look at it. No Target, no DCUSA, no Giant grocery store, no surplus parking. It was the metro (and the historic site of US St itself) that spurned and anchored the rebirth. The development in CH is anchored by the metro. Look at whats happening around the Petworth stop. Again, rebirth around metro with no DCUSA. Ft. Totten is a parking lot because it was designed that way. If that surface parking weren't part of the design Ft. Totten would have a lot more potential for commercial development. Same with West Hyattsville, and RI Ave.

That said I'm glad that urban mall is there in CH. Its just a shame about the surplus parking and Target's obstructing DC from repurposing it.

by Bianchi on Feb 3, 2010 4:41 pm • linkreport

My bad. Yes, giant opened in 2005. I remembered it being later. But I really mean everything right around the metro. My point is, it took big businesses opening before there was any kind of influx of population and street traffic.

I believe that revitalization CAN happen organically, but it will take decades instead of years. There are plenty of metro stations that have been open longer than Columbia Heights with nothing happening.

Re: C. heights station. Hard to find actual data, but there's this.

http://newcolumbiaheights.blogspot.com/2008/05/columbia-heights-metro-ridership-way-up.html

by Jamie on Feb 3, 2010 4:46 pm • linkreport

"Now look at it. No Target, no DCUSA, no Giant grocery store, "

Yeah, it's also 20 years after 1990. I didn't say a target or the like is required for a revitalization to happen. But it sure speeds things up.

Have you noticed that Logan Circle has also gotten really nice during much the same time frame as U Street developed? And Mt. Pleasant? Neither of them has a metro or a Giant, either, and they both sucked in 1990, too.

by Jamie on Feb 3, 2010 4:54 pm • linkreport

... didn't finish that thought.

My point is, proximity to existing revitalization (in the case of U Street & Logan Circle, that would be Dupont, and in the case of Mt. Pleasant, that would be Adams Morgan) is a lot more important than a metro station.

Yes - Columbia Heights would have eventually been gentrified all on its own, but I like 5 years better than 20 years. I also like having places to shop that I can walk to.

by Jamie on Feb 3, 2010 4:56 pm • linkreport

I feel like trying out optimism today, so how about this: the new long-term parking rates will relieve rush-hour traffic on the number streets between Columbia Heights and downtown. I expect fairly few people to take up driving to work because of these rates. However, I do expect some drivers from the Great Subwayless Expanse of Northern DC (Barnaby Woods, Shepherd Park, Brightwood) to abandon their current practice of driving all the way to work and instead park their cars in Columbia Heights and take the train the rest of the way instead, in order to save a bit of money.

by Tom Veil on Feb 3, 2010 5:11 pm • linkreport

@ Jamie, "I didn't say a target or the like is required for a revitalization to happen." You didn't? You said this: "...it is absurd to think that things would have come along just fine without DCUSA." CH was changing long before DCUSA and it would have done so w/ or w/o it. The changes were already obvious in the late '90s with anticipation of the metro opening and the effect from U St. radiating northward
The reason SW isn't revitalizing is b/c its a victim of 50s/60s error car-centric retrofitting. It was a traditional neighborhood before it was "improved". Had the traditional 'hood design been left in place SW too would have the rebirth of U St and CH. U St hasn't taken 20 years. The transformation from May 1991 (when the metro opened) to 2000 was significant, much more so then the changes from 2000-2010. The area around the Shaw stop is also significantly more commercially viable then it was 10-15-20 years ago. If you weren't here to see it then you really have no idea how different it is.

by Bianchi on Feb 3, 2010 5:16 pm • linkreport

I'm surprised no one has suggested the city simply void the contract with Target and seize the property so that it can be put to better use.

As one who remembers Columbia Heights well before the hipsters got there, I have no doubt getting Target helped that area change for the better. Too bad no one knew back then what all the hipster urban planners know now about how many parking spaces would actually be used at the project.

Of course, what our elite hipsters fail to realize was that Target was taking a huge risk building a store in the middle of DC, in a neighborhood that was hardly the safe, vibrant place it is now. And, as was pointed out, it was hardly Target that demanded all the parking - it was the zoning requirements for a project of this size.

Frankly, the city would be better off renting the spots on a monthly basis to area residents. It would free up parking spaces, make life a bit easier for those evil, car-centric residents, and raise some money for the city.

Why it's taken this long for the city to come up with this solution is a bigger problem than why it did such a one-sided deal with an anchor store taking a big business risk.

by Fritz on Feb 3, 2010 5:18 pm • linkreport

@Bianchi. I'm sorry that my language was not explicit enough. "Just fine" and "20 years later" are not the same thing to me.

It would look nothing like it does today without DCUSA and the other corporate development near the metro. That investment is directly responsible for dramatically changing the pace of revitalization.

To dispute this means that you think that mall has not influenced anyone to live and invest in Columbia Heights. You think they would have anyway? Then why didn't they move there between 1999 and 2005?

"The changes were already obvious in the late '90s with anticipation of the metro opening and the effect from U St. radiating northward"

What changes were those exactly? Columbia Heights looked exactly the same in the late 90's as it did in 1990, except for the metro station. At least until they razed the post office, and the other lots, then there were several empty lots for about five years. That was pretty awesome.

As far as your "radiation from U Street" theory goes, generally speaking, it is very intuitive that gentrification expands. It's also well documented.

But Columbia Hieghts' feeder is Adams Morgan, not U Street. In the mile between the U Street Metro and Columbia Heights is still a lot of stuff that's a lot worse off than the areas around either metro station.

by Jamie on Feb 3, 2010 5:27 pm • linkreport

@Fritz,

That's not a fair recounting of the situation. Using the existing zoning as evidence of the need for parking is backwards, as the existing zoning vastly oversupplies parking. Target got exactly the amount of parking they wanted.

And you're right, they were taking a risk. However, the beauty of hindsight now provides us with some real evidence to evaluate, and hopefully future development decisions will take this evidence into account.

by Alex B. on Feb 3, 2010 5:29 pm • linkreport

DCUSA could also fill some of those parking spaces if they didn't prohibit motorcycle as they currently do.

by ontarioroader on Feb 3, 2010 5:29 pm • linkreport

@Jaime,

I don't think Metro is the sole factor here, but it certainly is the single biggest facilitator.

Transit and transportation infrastructure shape land use. They helped shape DCUSA into what it is. It is a necessary condition, not a magic wand. It also does not create development - the market demand for DCUSA was already there, owning to the area's location, density, and demographics - all things that Metro influenced, but did not create.

The other thing is that development takes time. In the grand scheme of things, the 6 year lag between the opening of the CH station and the construction of DCUSA is almost instantaneous in the timescale of cities. We tend to forget that. I see people talk about the lack of influence the Ballpark has had all the time, despite the fact that it's only been there for two years.

We can never forget the larger conditions as well, as DCUSA came to be during the peak of the real estate boom. Given that climate, I would argue that the spillover effects from improvements in adjacent areas (Adams Morgan, U St, etc) made CH's development destiny much more clear with or without DCUSA. The question would have been one of form and exact timing, not an 'if.'

Of course DCUSA has had influence, but it's a mistake to cite it as the creation of that influence rather than the means to channel several much larger patterns and forces.

by Alex B. on Feb 3, 2010 5:37 pm • linkreport

@Jamie "My point is, proximity to existing revitalization (in the case of U Street & Logan Circle, that would be Dupont, and in the case of Mt. Pleasant, that would be Adams Morgan) is a lot more important than a metro station."

The revitalisation around U St wouldn't have happened w/o the metro. Logan Circ's revitalization came after U St. so that radiating effect you identified must be attributed to the U St, Shaw and Mt V Sq metro, (and logans beautiful architecture). And you may have noticed there's a metro stop in Dupont.

How do we know a metro stop is the major contributing factor to revitalization? Because real estate values increase as proximity to metro increases, all things being equal, much more so then to other amenities like grocery stores and shopping centers. Proximity to a metro stop can increas the value of a property by two fold or more (see property values around U St and CH 2 yrs before and 2 yrs after the metro stops opened). Grocery stores and Targets just don't have that kind of power. In fact, its the existence of the metro that gives the businesses the confidence to invest, like target in CH.

by Bianchi on Feb 3, 2010 5:38 pm • linkreport

Jamie, a lot of people did move there before 2005. Plus, a number of those buildings were still under construction until 2007. Did DCUSA accelerate gentrification? Yeah, probably, but so did population growth, existing colonization from more daring yuppies, and good buildings. But just because Columbia Heights looked similar does not mean major economic changes were not happening in the existing buildings.

by Neil Flanagan on Feb 3, 2010 5:39 pm • linkreport

Alex B. said it much more consiely and clearly then I did. Ditto Alex B.

by Bianchi on Feb 3, 2010 5:42 pm • linkreport

@Bianchi - How long have you lived here? Logan Circle gentrified before U Street did. When I moved here in 1990, Logan Circle was the hottest place to live for the gay community, and U Street was mostly burned out wasteland with a couple clubs. There was certainly nothing other than Ben's Chili Bowl farther east than 14th Street.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P2-1006062.html

May 16, 1992

"Logan Circle, a Northwest urban village framed roughly by Massachusetts Avenue to the south, S Street to the north and 15th and Ninth streets on each side, is one of the more successful gentrification efforts in the District. It has all the blessings of urban regrowth..."

Everyone else: I am really, really not trying to say the metro is not very important to development. Of course it is. I'm trying to say that DCUSA and other corporate development had a much more dramatic impact than the metro did.

It's as simple as this.

http://newcolumbiaheights.blogspot.com/2008/05/columbia-heights-metro-ridership-way-up.html

Find me another metro station that had it's numbers go up 25-40% in one year. How can you possibly say that's not a very major impact compared to the metro itself?

by Jamie on Feb 3, 2010 5:52 pm • linkreport

All those numbers show is that a lot of people went to Target... or at least the fact that the numbers jumped so much more on weekends suggests that to me.

But this is immaterial, since DCUSA wouldn't have been there had the Metro not gone in first.

by Neil Flanagan on Feb 3, 2010 6:12 pm • linkreport

And 20 years from now we'll be talking about how different Columbia Heights was 'back when it had that big-box DCUSA shopping center' ...

by Lance on Feb 3, 2010 6:39 pm • linkreport

This is nice that they're opening it up to long-term parking, but it would also be great if they did the following:

1) Enforced the parking zones on Park Rd. I'm always amazed at how often cars are parked illegally across from the entrance to the DCUSA parking lot. Some enforcement would most likely push people to use the under-utilized lot.

2) Made one side of Park Rd no parking during rush hour. Sometimes the cars back up from 16th all the way to 14th St.

by Rob on Feb 3, 2010 6:54 pm • linkreport

There is a chronic shortage of bike parking at DC USA and a surplus of automobile parking. Our city residents are getting greener .... now if the city planners would just give us more bike racks.

by Tour Guide on Feb 3, 2010 6:57 pm • linkreport

Excuse me if I missed it, but I didn't see any earlier posts mention that at some point in the future, residential high rise development might someday be built on top of the existing DC USA garage. This is not something that's going to happen this year or next, but 10 or 15 years hence, I wouldn't rule it out. If and when development occurs, the garage will certainly be a big plus then.

This development model of building on top of an already built structure is not unusual. As recently as two years ago, local big-time developer JBG tried to build a residential complex above the Safeway on Columbia Road in Adams Morgan, but was unable to work out a deal. JBG also wants to develop a hotel on the Rite-Aid-anchored shopping strip at 13th & U. Here, the shopping strip will be demolished, but the stores will return as first floor retail after the hotel is built. In Tenleytown, the garage for the new neighborhood library will be built to support a residential complex above.

by Anonymous on Feb 3, 2010 7:31 pm • linkreport

Anon you make an excellent point. A point which seems so obvious that it really shouldn't have to be mentioned. Because underground parking structures don't easily get retrofitted into a built up environments, it is of the ultimate importance tha they get mandated in during the initial phases of constructiuon of projects.

by Lance on Feb 3, 2010 11:17 pm • linkreport

We tried to tell the city, which retained ownership of the garage, that it was way overparking DC USA. Target's market assessment told them that there would be more demand for the store than they could supply. See the proposal we made to the city for alternatives to so much parking: http://www.smartergrowth.net/anx/index.cfm/3,179,737/dc_usa_parking_testimony.pdf

Metro ridership has grown incredibly at the CH station. No doubt Target is a driver that Jeepers arcade - the original anchor - would not have been. Recent Metro ridership numbers are over 11,000 average weekday boardings (http://tinyurl.com/yfu8sk3). In 2001, it was 4700 (see appendix in http://tinyurl.com/yhg4bh7).

by cherylcort on Feb 3, 2010 11:23 pm • linkreport

If Jeepers was at one time interested why not invite them to buildout a level of the parking garage now. It is not that hard to build out a parking garage. Nobody is talking about a retrofit but a complete buildout. Look at the empty retail spaces in DCusa. They also require complete buildouts. It's been done before. I'm sure an entertainment space would make more money than half filling the lot with commuters who want to drive to columbia heights only to park, walk to the metro, go three more stops and get off. If there is a market for that, great, but it doesn't serve our community. It's more like whoring it out to maryland. We should be thinking outside the box to make this a great neighborhood to live. Not bending over backwards to lure more cars here so the gov can make up 20% their shortfall.

by John on Feb 4, 2010 9:57 am • linkreport

You can't just plop any old retail space in the second level of the parking garage. The requirements for the space are completely different - ceiling heights, utilities, HVAC, etc. Likewise, why would a retail tenant want to be literally buried in the center core of a massive building like that?

I like the ideas for use of the space, but the most obvious use for it is parking. Since it's there, we should use it. The question then is how to best use that parking and at what price point - this is a discussion that needs to happen within the context of parking in the neighborhood as a whole, too - not just for the garage itself.

by Alex B. on Feb 4, 2010 10:13 am • linkreport

Alex B- I dont mean to keep harping on this point but a buildout is not as difficult as one might think. It is a raw space that would be in need of new plumbing, hvac etc. But buildouts as extensive and more so are completed routinely by many businesses. The CVS that was just built on columbia road was stripped down to the studs and rebuilt from the ground up. CVS made the decision to take on that buildout to move 1 block up the street from their old location. There are plenty of businesses who would have no problem with this. As for what type of business would want to locate themselves there. Bowling Alley, Arcade, Pool Hall, Movie Theater. All places that not only don't require natural light but want to avoid it. The level is easily accessible from elevators and an additional escalator could be built connecting the main lobby to the lower level. Of course as you mentioned the easy way out is to lure more cars to the lot. But at what expense. Sure we may keep a handful of cars out of downtown but we are luring them into the city still. Maybe I'm the only one here who lives in the area but I would love to see to see it put to better use.

by John on Feb 4, 2010 10:31 am • linkreport

John, I'm not saying it can't be done. It certainly can - but there's a big difference between gutting a retail space and specializing it (as CVS did) and gutting a parking garage that was designed to be a parking garage and turning it into retail space. It's going to be less than ideal space with a less than ideal location, and I highly doubt the finances would make any sense - particularly given the fact that there's lots of still vacant retail space in DC USA right now.

Retail spaces on the ground floor usually have high ceilings. Parking garages, as means of maximizing space, do not. You won't be able to change that. You'll have ramped, sloping floors. You'll have a ton of other issues that can be overcome, but at great cost - and all of that cost would be to get retail space that would instantly be the worst retail space in the entire development - no storefront, poor access, etc.

by Alex B. on Feb 4, 2010 10:42 am • linkreport

target should open a tire and lube center in that garage so that residents would have a reliable benefit from the garage. with leftover space they can do whatever their heart desires.

by annon on Feb 4, 2010 1:15 pm • linkreport

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Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

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