Greater Greater Washington

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Walmart shows conceptual renderings for Ward 7 store

Following Walmart's announcement that they will build four stores in the District of Columbia, few details were available about the Capitol View location, until recently.


Image from Walmart.

Walmart's Keith Morris presented at a forum held by Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander on December 18. While most of the community concerns centered on living wage jobs and contracting with local businesses, there was little discussion of the renderings Walmart provided.

My initial thought was this would look great on my alma mater's campus more than near the Capitol Heights Metro. It may not look like a typical suburban Wal-mart, but neither does anything indicate that this is an urban area.

The property, located at 58th St and East Capitol St NE, is surrounded by townhomes and a senior housing. Between the existing landscape and the development potential at the Capitol Heights Metro located steps from the proposed site, I expected more of a town center look and feel.


Top: upper walkway and main entry. Bottom: lower walkway entry. Images provided by Walmart.

The first community-led meeting will be tonight, Wednesday December 29, 2010, 6:30 to 8:00 pm at Maya Angelou Charter School (Evans Campus) at 5600 East Capitol St, NE. Assuming cellphone reception, I will live tweet from @Dizzyluv25.

Veronica O. Davis, PE, has experience in planning transportation, urban areas, civil infrastructure, and communities. She co-owns Nspiregreen, LLC, an environmental consulting company in DC. She is also the co-founder of Black Women Bike DC, which strives to increase the number of Black women and girls biking for fun, health, wellness, and transportation. 

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it looks like the renderings for the new Dunbar High School.

by Richard Layman on Dec 29, 2010 10:18 am • linkreport

Yeah, these renderings don't tell us much at all. If not for the WalMart logo on the building, I wouldn't know what this was supposed to be.

What is clear is that we're talking about retail and retail alone here. Disappointed that there's not mixed use at this location, so close to a Metro station.

Seeing an actual site plan would also be useful. How much parking are they proposing? Where will it go? etc.

by Alex B. on Dec 29, 2010 10:24 am • linkreport

"What is clear is that we're talking about retail and retail alone here. Disappointed that there's not mixed use at this location, so close to a Metro station."

Alex, there is a mixed use project. This is solely Walmart's proposal for their store. There has been significant numbers of new attached housing and a large senior building constructed and much already occupied in the Capitol Gateway Development. Other retail/restaurant options are being pursued, but with the economy...

by Ronnie (CVCA) on Dec 29, 2010 10:28 am • linkreport

The only information provided is it will be 118,000 SF. There have been concerns from the community regarding surface parking. Watts Branch tributary to the Anacostia River is located near the property. The City and community have been working for years to restore it. The property slopes towards the tributary.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Dec 29, 2010 10:30 am • linkreport

@Ronnie

I didn't mean to imply that there's not a mix of uses nearby, but this rendering is clearly for retail and retail alone.

Given that WalMart's proposal for the downtown site (H st and NJ Ave NW) featured residential above the retail, I'm disappointed in this conceptual drawing. Given the location near a Metro, as well as the relatively large footprint required for a big box store, I was hoping to see some more density and a mix of uses within this particular building.

by Alex B. on Dec 29, 2010 10:37 am • linkreport

@Alex

Many of the old guard in Ward 7 don't 'get' mixed use. A proposal for the Benning Metro Station and one for the library on Benning Rd caused a major ruckus. Folks didn't want anyone living above the library!
I'm trying, but I need more voices for smart growth in Ward 7.

PS I added www.capitolviewcivicassoc.org URL to my last post but it redirected to some site with malware. Don't click on the URL with my name. I don't get this if I go directly to the CVCA web site.

by Ronnie (CVCA) on Dec 29, 2010 10:48 am • linkreport

@Alex,

"Mixed Use" is now such an amorphous term, like "green development". It is overused and misunderstood.

Walmart is a retailer and doesn't do "mixed use". They build strip stores or occupy space in "mixed use" developments thats built for them. They don't build apts or condos, they certainly don't build or coordinate other retail around them. Thats up to the developer.

Having said that, did you ever think that perhaps "mixed use" isn't proposed here because it wouldn't work.

You can't simply plop down a "Bethesda Row" anywhere on a map and expect it to work. The median income for that area of Capital Heights (~31K/yr) is far too low to support the kind of development you wish for and the population density way too light.

The Cap Heights metro is underutilized as a metro stop right now for a reason. Hopefully that will change in the next 10-20 years, but your kind of development just isn't suited for that location right now.

by freely on Dec 29, 2010 10:57 am • linkreport

@freely

I disagree. Mixed use is simple and clear. There is either a mix of land uses on the site, or there is not. Your broad categories of land uses are quite simple - you have residential, commercial (retail), commercial (office), industrial, etc.

You're right that Bethesda Row won't work there, but that has nothing to do with a mix of land uses, it has everything to do with the price point and retail program of the space.

And the whole reason this WalMart debate is interesting is precisely because WalMart has a) expressed a strong desire to enter urban markets, and b) is willing to substantially alter their formula to do so. Mixed use is clearly on the table, since that's exactly what's been proposed for one of the other DC locations:

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/8277/will-walmart-be-urban-part-3-new-jersey-avenue/

I'm also not following your reasoning on why mixed use won't work - you say it won't work because it's not dense enough, yet that under-utilization is also the reason to not add more density?

by Alex B. on Dec 29, 2010 11:06 am • linkreport

Why do 4 people have backpacks, 2 with messenger bags and a flag.

Someone must have mixed up the designs this a school design.

by kk on Dec 29, 2010 11:06 am • linkreport

It would be a lot clearer where or if there were surface parking had the rendering included people using shopping carts or carrying bags. These renderings are strange because everyone is walking around the Wal Mart but nobody is entering or leaving with any purchases. Maybe the flag is there because Wal Mart is all about patriotism.

by Scoot on Dec 29, 2010 11:16 am • linkreport

This is just a sample rendering. They have not done arch drawings. Still need enviro impact study. We will fight for parking lot that does not create runoff into the creek. They need to submit a proposal for the PUD that then needs to go to BZA. The community meeting is to bring these and other concerns to the table (I hope you all will be there!) so that we have items to bring to the developer, to DC Housing Authority (owner of the land), and to Walmart.
We have set up an e-mail account to accumulate concerns, ideas and suggestions: walmart@capitolviewcivicassoc.org

by Ronnie (CVCA) on Dec 29, 2010 11:22 am • linkreport

@ Alex
The website or link is :
http://www.capitolcivicassoc.org
I had no problem going on the site, but it only displayed a brief page and the application for membership.

by Ward 7Citizen on Dec 29, 2010 11:35 am • linkreport

@Alex,

You are right, Walmart has expressed an interest in Urban markets and switching up their modus operandi. But that doesn't mean they've become mixed use developers. Again, you are barking up the wrong tree.

You say you want "mixed use", what specific uses, or specific business do you think would work in this location?

What Walmart means by "alter their formula" (as is evident by their other urban expansions) is that they are willing to modify their standard box design and architecture, to offer a different variety of goods within their store, to build a smaller store with a less varied selection of items, to not require their standard 4 parking spaces per thousand sq/ft of store space. It doesn't mean that they are all of a sudden willing to self develop a new Clarendon.

You disagree, but then again you aren't the one actually funding the project so you don't know. The mix of land uses depends on what the location can support, what the demographics are. This location compared to the one on NJ avenue are night and day in terms of difference and consequently the store they build there, and the ancillary development that the coordinating developer builds will be different.

Look at it this way..take Walmart out of the picture for a second and ask yourself this. If this specific location was so prime for the kind of development you think is suited for it now, then why didn't it happen sometime in the past decade? Why didn't it happen when commercial real estate money grew on trees, the appetite for high risk credit was high, national retailers were spreading faster than demographics warranted and DC was the virtual poster child of massive condo and metro centric developement? Why?

Because even with all of those things going for it, this location wasn't suited for that kind of development then, it certainly isn't suited for it now. In the next 10-20 years perhaps, but not now.

by freely on Dec 29, 2010 11:40 am • linkreport

@freely

Because until recently, a lot of Metro stations were seen primarily as park and ride or kiss and ride sites. Adequate parking was the priority, not transit-oriented development.

by Steve on Dec 29, 2010 11:47 am • linkreport

Everything about those drawings screams school, aside from the logo on the building. It's not horrible, but all-in-all does not seem to be very good retail design.

by dcseain on Dec 29, 2010 11:49 am • linkreport

@freely

The relationship between tenants and developers is a lot more collaborative than you say. WalMart isn't acting as developer here, but they're certainly involved in the core aspects of the development plan - just the way that Target was in the development of DC USA.

Perhaps I've been somewhat inarticulate when talking about WalMart - I simply mean the process of WalMart coming to DC and all that entails - not that the corporation is acting alone here.

You still haven't answered my question - you keep asserting that this 'kind of development' isn't ripe at this location, but that is an assessment only of price point, not of density or mixed use characteristics. You cite Clarendon and Bethesda, but not Silver Spring.

As for why this particular property didn't develop, that's probably because the parcel in question is owned by the DC Housing Authority. A large part of the station area in Maryland is owned by WMATA. It's not exactly a free land market...

by Alex B. on Dec 29, 2010 11:58 am • linkreport

I agree with some of the posters. First, with the Capitol Heights Metro within close proximity to the Metro and it being across the street from a proposed high-rise development (rental or condos ?) The should be no reason why a rendering that would incorporate density should not work. The same builders/developers who came up with the current Walmart rendering will be the same company who are overseeing the proposed high-rise/mixed use project directly across from it. So they should know better than to have come up with such a layout for the proposed Walmart, considering that they are also planning or the original plan was to have residential/mixed use development on the same lot when a Shopper's was in the initial plans before news about Walmart came into play. The only reason that I can think of as to why the Walmart prototype is would be this way would be if the original plans for the property were scrapped by the developers/landowners in order to accomodate Walmart's constant mindset of having a "Big Box" prototype store. Which also doesn't make sense because of its statement or "agenda" of having an "urban prototype" store when this layout is anything but. Also,shouldn't the developer take into consideration the plans of growth from its other project concerning density vs. the current Walmart rendering? If it is going to be an "Urban Store" in an urban setting, it should not look like something that belongs to a "Strip Mall" or a traditional Supercenter. And even if they are not considering this area as an urban setting such as New Jersey Avenue, this should not look like something fit for the school in which the meeting will be held. Hell, the Walmart rendering for the Georgia Avenue location looks more urban than this. With that being said, I will definitely be at the meeting this evening.

by Ward 7 Citizen on Dec 29, 2010 12:10 pm • linkreport

Please excuse the typos on the middle of my post above. Got distracted by the cat.

by Ward 7 Citizen on Dec 29, 2010 12:16 pm • linkreport

@Ward 7 Citizen

"The same builders/developers who came up with the current Walmart rendering will be the same company who are overseeing the proposed high-rise/mixed use project directly across from it."

Actually no, the rendering was from Walmart. The developer was not involved. Walmart apparently does all there own stuff and even has their own construction crew--thus only 100 temporary jobs available during construction.

"... if the original plans for the property were scrapped ..."

There were no original plans. According to DCHA, they were not developed because of the expense and not knowing what retail would end up on this site (retail being as specific as it got as I understand it). As it was for the senior building, the PUD for this site will be brand new and separate from the original conglomerated PUD for all of the parcels in the Capitol Gateway Development.

Look forward to seeing you tonight!

PS Our Web site was hacked into and everything removed. I replaced the page with a simple, slightly modified jpeg of our last newsletter--that is why it is so, well, simple!

by Ronnie (CVCA) on Dec 29, 2010 12:26 pm • linkreport

@Steve,

I completely agree, where folks seem to disagree on is whether this location is now suited for mixed use TOD.

The TOD at our metro stops has been slowly spreading. The rate of spread and type of development is determined by demographics. Thats why surface lots and locations like Huntington and Eisenhower Ave, Twinbrook and Vienna Metro have been or are currently redeveloping under the TOD flag.

Why have these locations, which are 12, 15 miles from downtown DC developed, some 12-15 years ago when this Cap Heights location which is 4 miles from downtown is still as is because the demo isn't nearly as attractive. I am not saying that it isn't changing and it won't get a Vienna Metro Town Center eventually, but it isn't suited for it now.

And Alex, you completely disregard pricepoint, when demographics is the entire driving factor. Building multistory buildings with ground floor retail and second/thrid story residential, or building commercial is far more expenssive than simply building a cheap stand alone box, or some simple and cheap strip retail. Higher construction costs drive higher lease or buy-right costs which brings us all back to the fundamental demographics of the neighborhood. Building "artifical" density in a location that doesn't already have it or can't currently support it is a money losing venture. Exactly the reason why this location wasn't developed sometime in the past 10-12 years.

by freely on Dec 29, 2010 12:49 pm • linkreport

The issue with mixed use isn't with Walmart per se, it's with the developers of the sites. If Walmart wants to get into certain locations badly enough, they will acquiesce to placing stores in mixed use settings. But if the developer doesn't propose a mixed use project, then it is moot. And it is true that this is a step forward for Walmart, as they are only now willing to consider urban-appropriate store designs and formats, when they hadn't been willing to do so for many years (e.g., cities like Baltimore and New Orleans have very suburban like Walmart stores).

Still, most of the posts discussing this and putting the onus on Walmart miss the point.

WRT both the Georgia Ave. and Ward 7 sites, for a variety of neighborhood and citywide revitalization objectives, mixed use projects are probably desirable, although within each ward, the understanding and acceptance of such a viewpoint varies considerably.

But the pressure has to be put on the developers to do better overall site plans and projects. That will be very hard to do.

It's imperative though, because at least with the Georgia Avenue site, the lease is for 75 years. So what we get now will be with us for a couple generations with very limited opportunities for improvement over time.

Getting it right the first time is key.

I didn't want to get involved too deeply in W4 issues, but I am getting involved in the Walmart issue. It will be tough though because there are at least 6 different perspectives on the issue:

- no Walmart at all for social and economic justice reasons (but the proposal as offered by the developer offers no leverage for such a position)
- yes to Walmart, it will add choice
- no to Walmart it will hurt local businesses
- whatever regarding Walmart as it is a matter of right project, but we need a mixed use development at that site to promote Georgia Avenue revitalization
- absolutely no mixed use at that site, adding residents will destroy the neighborhood, car-oriented retail only
- absolutely no mixed use at that site, because high density development will disproportionately impact some nearby residents in negative ways.

There is almost no way that a consensus position will be able to be reached. Hopefully though it will be a way for the ANCs to work more closely together, and to upgrade their "game" with regard to revitalization generally and Georgia Avenue specifically.

by Richard Layman on Dec 29, 2010 1:05 pm • linkreport

@freely writes: The rate of spread and type of (transit oriented) development is determined by demographics.

That's actually only somewhat true. The rate of spread and type of transit oriented development is determined in large part by location, zoning, and existing land use context. The stations in places that are decidedly urban have the best TOD. The stations in places that are decidedly suburban have a harder time of it. Although certain areas, such as White Flint, are now in a second stage of this, where they are urbanizing more decidedly.

There are some interesting reports from U Minnesota, one makes the point that the development benefit of transit mostly comes from the first 10 miles of the system, which presumably is in the densest area. This supports Belmont's thesis about polycentric vs. monocentric transit systems, and the point he makes that the more widespread the rail system is, the less able it is to centralize commerce, housing, and transit.

- http://www.cts.umn.edu/Publications/ResearchReports/reportdetail.html?id=1546

- http://www.cts.umn.edu/Publications/ResearchReports/reportdetail.html?id=1922

by Richard Layman on Dec 29, 2010 1:13 pm • linkreport

Wal-Mart does employ its own construction people (I've shared plane rides with one of them). they also tend to micromanage everything. Their understanding of different geographic or cultural issues is practically nil. This is why they failed in Europe and have had a very steep learning curve in China. It's also why one or more of these stores will fail. They leave few decisions to local managers and stock lines like clothing on a uniform basis across markets, whereas most successful retailers do some tailoring based on rural/urban, economic, or racial/ethnic preferences.

It's unclear how these stores will be merchandised esp. the smaller ones. If they emphasize food and other low margin lines, the stores will be unprofitable and unsuccessful.

The Ward 4 store seems like a poison pill for the local NIMBYs. It will cause more congestion than condos and do nothing to help the long-term struggle to upgrade Georgia Avenue as a place to shop. If anything it will cement the image of the area as low end. The location does not have the kind of transit links that DCUSA has and, for retail, would be better suited to something with a more local draw like a supermarket.

by Rich on Dec 29, 2010 1:25 pm • linkreport

@freely,

And Alex, you completely disregard pricepoint, when demographics is the entire driving factor. Building multistory buildings with ground floor retail and second/thrid story residential, or building commercial is far more expenssive than simply building a cheap stand alone box, or some simple and cheap strip retail. Higher construction costs drive higher lease or buy-right costs which brings us all back to the fundamental demographics of the neighborhood. Building "artifical" density in a location that doesn't already have it or can't currently support it is a money losing venture. Exactly the reason why this location wasn't developed sometime in the past 10-12 years.

As Richard notes, this is an incomplete picture of what drives mixed use development. Yes, it costs more, but the returns on investment are also higher.

The market can support mixed use and more dense development just fine. For a very recent example, look at the Grays on Pennsylvania Ave:

http://www.capitalcommunitynews.com/CCN_Website09/images/papers/EOR/May/0510/pdfs/20-21_EOR_0510.pdf

4 stories of residential on top of retail. Mixed use can work at any pricepoint. Developing the financing strategy and the specific program for the retail and residential spaces is a challenge, but it most certainly can be done and can be done successfully. As Richard notes, we need to push the developers to do better.

Again, this particular location never had the chance to develop, since most of the land near the Capitol Heights metro station is government-owned.

by Alex B. on Dec 29, 2010 2:28 pm • linkreport

FYI. Info from Walmart regarding the Ward 7 store.

1.) There will be approximately 40,000 square feet (1/3 of the total store) dedicated to grocery items (produce, dairy, frozen foods, dry grocery, etc..) and the other largest departments are electronics, apparel, and health and beauty items. (those departments can be anywhere from 5,000-10,000 square feet). There is not a merchandise layout available yet at this stage though.
2.) There will be no lawn and garden center or tire lube express auto service center that some of our suburban Supercenter stores have featured.
3.) Both full and part time associates are eligible for our company benefits plan and they choose from the same options.

by Ronnie (CVCA) on Dec 29, 2010 3:06 pm • linkreport

WRT mixed use payback, it costs more in early stages, and makes more in later stages. This is a problem because developers for the most part aren't portfolio driven. There are developers who develop projects then sell them and go on to develop new projects, and others who buy properties and manage portfolios. I've mentioned the Leinberger piece on product types before, which is another element of the picture. E.g., companies like Walker Development don't do residential typically, just retail. Foulger-Pratt has a mixed portfolio including housing and retail. Etc.

by Richard Layman on Dec 29, 2010 3:25 pm • linkreport

Given the description you provided Ronnie, it sounds a lot like the urban store near my old apartment in westside Atlanta, which was at the time quite similar to many parts of Ward 7.

That store was part of a huge strip mall that backed directly up to a residential neighborhood and had an enormous surface lot facing out to a busy thoroughfare. I only recall one access point connecting to the an existing pedestrian sidewalk from the local neighborhood street to the interior of the property. Due to the nature of the lot the only other access points involved walking around the perimeter of the surface lot. So it was doable for walking, but not ideal.

On the other hand, it provided me and I'm sure many other residents in the neighborhood with a store where we could do all of our shopping, and was very inexpensive.

by Scoot on Dec 29, 2010 4:29 pm • linkreport

I should probably clarify that the parking lot designed for Wal Mart itself was not particularly large, and had an unconventional covered design in order to integrate it with the parking lots and driveways connecting to other stores.

by Scoot on Dec 29, 2010 4:41 pm • linkreport

If this property is or was DC owned and Walmart is in charge of the development and construction of their stores,then what was A&R Development's role in the entire process? Yes, there was initial plans for mixed use development for this site. However, A&R Development has no stake,say or involvement in this process? Where as previously they had plans for the property to become mix-use development? Please enlighten me on this.

by Ward 7 citizen on Dec 29, 2010 4:54 pm • linkreport

I'm guessing if this were something like a Whole Foods being built on say P St no one would be crying about mixed use.

by Bob See on Dec 29, 2010 5:14 pm • linkreport

"Why do 4 people have backpacks, 2 with messenger bags and a flag.

Someone must have mixed up the designs this a school design."

@KK.... LOL. Great observations.

@Bob See... Even if it were a Whole Foods, the design concerns would be the same. I fully expect that regardless of what retail was there it would have more of an urban design.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Dec 29, 2010 5:35 pm • linkreport

I think the Whole Foods on P Street should have had housing above it. The way it's been done underutilizes the space. I think that the Rhode Island Place development should have been mixed use and urban. It should have extended and strengthened urban design in that area, instead of strengthening inappropriate sub-urban design and development in that area.

In DC commercial districts like 14th St. and H St. NE, strip shopping centers are being redone into multistory buildings. One Safeway has been redone as mixed use (Georgetown) and it's supposed to happen on Georgia Ave. at Petworth, and I expect it to happen in Capitol Hill and at other locations over time.

Basically, in DC commercial districts and at Metro Stations, one story development underutilizes the space. As build out approaches capacity in the most desirable areas, one story commercial sites in decent locations will be redeveloped to utilize their multistory development capacity.

by Richard Layman on Dec 29, 2010 5:55 pm • linkreport

Alex, I share your frustration about the missed opportunities at this site, but the simple economics really don't justify vertical mixed-use at this site.

Newish housing (built this century) in Marshall Heights sells for around $200/square foot. Around the Potomac Avenue Metro, they're over $400, and around Columbia Heights well over $500. Much of that price differential goes to pay for higher land prices, some goes to better finishes, and some is available to pay for the higher cost of building.

How much more does it cost to build vertically? A brick low-rise (2-3 story) apartment building cost $122 per square foot to build in 2008; a brick mid-rise apartment building cost $143 per square foot -- and all of that is with surface parking! Add in the cost of structured parking* and the cost of land, and there's no way to turn a profit when your end product is competing with nearby houses that sell for only $200 per square foot.

That is, unless you get some of those coveted tax dollars. The Grays in Fairlawn is an entirely different kind of project; it's subsidized with Low Income Housing Tax Credits, so the rules of market economics don't apply -- in particular, it takes much longer to assemble financing, and the available pool of financing is very limited and spoken for years in advance. It's not exactly reliable for developers who want to pounce on an opportunity like a Wal-Mart lease.

* $40/foot * 350 ft. = $14,000 per space; that works out to +$14/ft. if we're assuming one space per 1000 sq. ft. apartment, plus another 50% if the parking is underground.

by Payton on Dec 30, 2010 12:41 pm • linkreport

Payton, those are great points about finance - but that's not why freely was arguing mixed use is bad for this location - s/he is arguing that the very concept of mixed use cannot work in this location. The idea that mixed use can only work for upscale price points is simply false.

Also, I'd be angling for rental residential units, not condo sales. This gets back to Richard's point about wanting developers who build assets and take a long term view, rather than ones who build and flip projects.

The other key element is that the land at this site is all owned by the DC Housing Authority. If you want to help bridge that financial gap, there's your leverage.

Regarding parking, I have a simple answer for that. What do you need the parking for, particularly for the residential portion of a project? This site is practically on top of a Metro station.

The broader point you make, however, is that doing the right thing isn't easy. Mixed use development on top of metro stations is the right thing to do. It's a shame too much development follows the path of least resistance and ends up producing suboptimal results. Given the circumstances of this particular site, however, there is more than enough government leverage to induce a better outcome.

by Alex B. on Dec 30, 2010 1:41 pm • linkreport

I'd also note that this particular site has some of those exact methods of public finance, Payton. This would be part of the Capitol Gateway project, which is a HOPE VI project:

http://dcmud.blogspot.com/2009/04/new-capital-for-capitol-gateway.html

by Alex B. on Dec 30, 2010 1:51 pm • linkreport

"Even if it were a Whole Foods, the design concerns would be the same. I fully expect that regardless of what retail was there it would have more of an urban design."

I seriously have doubts people would risk turning away a Whole Foods because they dragged out the process due to arguing over the proposal. Maybe these days it may happen, given "mixed-use" has become dogma, and anything that doesn't embrace it is regarded as a failure...

I'm all for urban design principals but I'm not someone who's paying for the development.

by Bob See on Dec 30, 2010 2:11 pm • linkreport

Wow -- if this is a DC owned site, then there is leverage to do something better. That isn't necessarily the case though, DCHA and DC DHCD aren't known for better absolute best practice agencies, although DCHA improved significantly under the tenure of Michael Kelly and I don't think they really had an opportunity to deal with a retail/mixed use project in this fashion (other than the New Communities program proposed by Mayor Williams, which is being implemented in the North Capitol/Sursum Corda area). I haven't really dealt with DHCD since the Williams Administration. Then, they were just treading water in terms of quality, it was very frustrating, at least wrt H Street NE and their support of middling projects by the H St. CDC.

by Richard Layman on Jan 2, 2011 3:19 pm • linkreport

I agree that with the incredibly large footprint that WalMart will need, mixed use seems necessary.
Also this rendering doesn't show any kind of parking. I'm use to my WalMarts coming with a parking lot twice as big as the store - is it possible they don't plan for any parking at all on this site?
To combine the two ideas, I don't know what the parking situation around there is but maybe the WalMart could make a garage as part of its site-plan and make use of some vertical space. Doesn't Whole Foods near Tenleytown do that?

by elysian on Jan 3, 2011 12:55 pm • linkreport

The site/block is 435K-436K sq ft and Walmart will use 305K sq ft per owner, DC Housing Authority. Proposed store is 118K sq ft, with renderings showing what appear to be 2 floors (top rendering shows upper level looking from West, bottom rendering shows lower level looking from East with what appears to be a parking garage behind the screen!). As there are no architectural or engineering drawings as yet, it is really hard to speculate. We plan to ask on 1/26 (tentative meeting date). I will push for underground parking because of the lot's slope toward Watts Branch Tributary to Anacostia River.

by Ronnie (CVCA) on Jan 3, 2011 2:26 pm • linkreport

Mixed use is the only healthy and/or sustainable use short of green-only uses (farm, forest, park, etc.).

BUT...

Wal-Mart isn't wired to think about health or susainability.

i'm as wigged out about having a massive city block with only one point of attention (a front door). Where is the responsibile community presence to discourage crime on the other three sides (compare to O Street Market Giant).

apartments above could add one or two "front doors" for residents which is a step up. They might also switch it up like suburban walmarts and have separate entrances for the separate areas of the store, though i would imagine they're expecting shoplifters galore.

They're also not hard-wired to think of development with lots of support columns inside. The typical Wal-Mart is a giant warehouse with largely uninterrupted view.

They will have to be persuaded that mid-to-high rise is attractive and that column-inhibited sight-lines are also viable.

by DB on Jan 3, 2011 4:47 pm • linkreport

"Mixed use is the only healthy and/or sustainable use"

What does "healthy" and "sustainable" mean exactly (outside of some utopian urban theory)? How is the single-use Whole Foods on P St or in Tenleytown unhealthy and unsustainable? How about that Columbia Heights Giant? Capitol View is a way more suburban, with detached single family residences and lots of wide roads...E Capitol is 6 lanes wide. How appealing is an urban apartment building above a store going to be there?

"They're also not hard-wired to think of development with lots of support columns inside. The typical Wal-Mart is a giant warehouse with largely uninterrupted view."

The Walmart proposal for NJ ave suggests otherwise.

by Bob See on Jan 3, 2011 5:30 pm • linkreport

Perhaps the lack of a parking area is indicative of Walmarts'
new stance on urban development? If they are now willing to exist in a mixed use development site, then maybe they are getting that we don't want them taking over every area they move into. Integration, not domination.

by Monarch Ridge Hill on Jan 4, 2011 10:56 am • linkreport

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