Greater Greater Washington


TD Bank a step back for urbanism at RI Ave

A suburban-style building is about to go up in the shadow of smart-growth development at the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station.

Photo by the author.

While construction has begun on Rhode Island Station, an mixed-use infill development that is replacing the former parking lot at the Metro station, a smaller, adjacent development has not received much attention.

In the parking lot of Rhode Island Place, a large strip mall that was plopped down on top of what used to be a city impoundment lot (and a cemetery before that), TD Bank is about to begin construction on a new branch. This was first reported by a commenter on the Rhode Island Ave NE Insider blog in March, but was not widely circulated.

On the one hand, this land is a completely unused piece of asphalt. Look at the map herethe location is in the part of the parking lot furthest from both the Giant and the Home Depot. I never see any cars parked there, even during busy hours at the stores. The land will be better utilized than before, but it will still be a car-centric drive-to and -through location.

A sidewalk to the Metro station runs alongside this site. When the bank is completed, there will be more complex traffic movements at the point where the sidewalk meets the parking lot. It will be worth paying attention to pedestrian safety at this location when the construction is finished.

Plan for the site. Click to enlarge.

It's somewhat ironic that, while we are encouraging transit-oriented development on the old WMATA parking lot next door, we're moving further away from that goal at Rhode Island Place.

Geoff Hatchard lived in DC's Trinidad neighborhood. The opinions and views expressed in Geoff's writing on this blog are his, and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer. 


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Also mentioned this on your blog last week, but I dunno if you can call it "moving further away" when you consider that it's unoccupied parking lot that is being used for the bank branch...with no new asphalt area being added. True, it's not bona-fide "New Urbanism". But calling it "moving further away"/"a step back" IMO is a stretch.

by Froggie on Nov 15, 2010 8:15 am • linkreport

Of course, they did this in Tenleytown as well, but this is not as bad as the Walgreens that is coming atop the Van Ness Metro.

by Andrew on Nov 15, 2010 8:34 am • linkreport

There's a bank branch a few blocks away at the Florida Market (of all places) that actually does a good job of blending a suburban-style bank branch onto a street-facing property. Why couldn't they just copy that design?

by andrew on Nov 15, 2010 8:37 am • linkreport

Well, it's a parking lot for Home Depot. I don't know how you build a Home Depot that isn't car-centric. I don;t think sticking a bank in the parking lot is a bad thing. It's one more errand people can run while they're at HD in a car.

Incidentally, the number of zipcars in the HD parking lot is really something.

by jcm on Nov 15, 2010 8:42 am • linkreport

They completely blocked the sidewalk for a while. I'm not sure if it is back, I stopped going to Giant there because it was not really safe to walk around this construction area.

by Patrick O'Malley on Nov 15, 2010 8:51 am • linkreport

In Park Slope, Brooklyn, a very similar design was defeated by the community, who appealed to Commerce Bank (the former name of TD Bank) to build a branch that fits in better:

by Mike on Nov 15, 2010 9:20 am • linkreport

TD Bank is not spectacular when it comes to new buildings. Their branch in Tenleytown is a suburban-style waste of land. Not only is the parking lot too large (always 1/2 full), the entrance doesn't even face the street and of course the drive through no one uses because it's in the middle of a city.

by John on Nov 15, 2010 9:24 am • linkreport

>I don't know how you build a Home Depot that isn't car-centric.

Answer: Like this.

Anyway, I am always amused by TD Bank's "America's most convenient bank" ad approach. It's a Canadian bank! TD stands for Toronto Dominion.

by BeyondDC on Nov 15, 2010 9:45 am • linkreport

Commerce/TD has an urban-styled building model like the one in Park Slope. That's what it built on South Van Dorn St. in Alexandria. It's not clear that's what they're building here, though -- the site plan seems to indicate that it's their suburban model.

by Terry K. on Nov 15, 2010 10:26 am • linkreport

Does anyone know how they ever managed to move a cemetery, back in 1959? I thought moving bodies was illegal, given that whenever even one buried body is discovered in a construction site, it seems to at least require some type of appropriate adjustment to show respect and preserve history.

(I'm sure the fact that in this case it was 1959 and the deceased were African American unfortunately made it easier for the powers that be to do this.)

by JB on Nov 15, 2010 10:51 am • linkreport


I'm pretty sure Canada is in "America" as well. In the US we often just use "America" as a shorthand for the USA but isn't that kind of a slight to everybody else who lives on the continent?

by MLD on Nov 15, 2010 11:40 am • linkreport

I'm pretty sure Canada is in "America" as well
Say that in Canada if you like living dangerously.

As for the substantive issue, yes, in Spanish "América" means the new world, but in English usage, that's rarely the case. (Sorry for the off-topic post)

by Steve S on Nov 15, 2010 12:24 pm • linkreport

@ Beyond DC, Steve S

America stands for the America's which are North America and South America

Anyone who thinks differently is wrong in most of the world North & South America are considered one continent America.

When a person is speaking of the US they should say the US, or USA not America. The same thing happens when people say Australia when they forget that the continent of Australia is not the same as the country; the country is just the big island plus Tasmania while the continent is the country plus New Guinea and some other small islands

by kk on Nov 15, 2010 4:26 pm • linkreport

In the real English-speaking world (or at least Canada and Britain as well as the US), America, also known as the United States, is the most populous country in North America, which it shares with Canada and several other countries. Its citizens are Americans. Canadians are not Americans (except, perhaps, those who have dual nationality). Both Canadians and Americans are North Americans.

("Correct" or not, this is standard English usage in at least three countries. I'm sure this varies in other languages.)

by davidj on Nov 16, 2010 10:39 am • linkreport

@ davidj

What the heck does the real English Speaking world mean ?

There are several other real English Speaking countries Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, India, Guyana, many other states in Africa, the Caribbean, and Oceania.

by kk on Nov 17, 2010 9:41 am • linkreport


plus the country of Belize, and Isle of Man, the Bailiwicks, Gibraltar, Bermuda and other Crown dependencies and Overseas Territories

by kk on Nov 17, 2010 10:32 am • linkreport

The RIA Home Depot is not an urban model, that's obvious. But it was built in a time when no one else wanted to build in that part of the city. The parking lot it huge and usually mostly unused. I frequent this Home Depot, and it is very busy. I see lot of contractors with their trucks picking up supplies. It's hard to imagine a true urban concept store like the one in the link being able to accomodate the clientele of this store.

Anything that makes better use of the massive parking lot is a step in the right direction, IMO. Also, the main walkway to this shopping center comes up from the metro to the side the Giant is on. There's not too many people walking up the hill to cross where the bank drive thrus will be exiting.

by Brookland Rez on Nov 17, 2010 10:53 am • linkreport

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