One gutsy letter-writer in the Gazette this week has probably been kicked out of the Homeowner's Association for suggesting should be more like Bethesda. He's actually got quite a point, despite the fact that development plans for the former Anchor Inn site in Wheaton have stalled even after the County's easing of redevelopment restrictions in the business district. Says the developer:
"Wheaton has missed the train through three development cycles, and it appears it could be left behind again."
That's right. The smoking ban killed the Anchor Inn, and now Wheaton's "friendliness" towards small businesses, many of whom were stifled by the development restrictions, will prevent anything from rising in its place, leaving a vacant lot at an important intersection.
Do you want to prevent people from getting stabbed in Wheaton? Well, the answer wasn't to lure all the high-end retailers and put them inside a shopping mall, leaving the surrounding streets dead, and it's certainly not to prevent business from growing outside of the mall, making it even worse.
There is no reason why we can't accomodate small businesses in a denser Wheaton. Has anyone considered that rents could go down if there was a glut of retail space downtown? I mean, I like Barry's Magic Shop too, but I'd take safe streets over card games any day.
What angers me the most are the tacky preliminary plans purposed for the space at the former Anchor Inn restaurant. Steven Karr, an architect who has had his hands all over Wheaton redevelopments since the early 1980's continues to produce ugly and haphazard shopping strips that make Wheaton such an eyesore. Maybe I am the only person that notices that he is the man behind some of the worst retail/commercial developments in Wheaton and Montgomery County, but someone has got to stop him before he messes up the Anchor Inn location!
Purposed Anchor Inn Plans design:
Other "magnificent" contributions:
I witnessed a typical Wheaton scene this past Sunday night - multiple cop cars and five or six guys in handcuffs on the street a block from the former Anchor Inn site.
From the "Anchor Inn" article in the Gazette:
"Karr said last week he planned to meet with Leonard Greenberg, owner of the Anchor Inn site, to discuss possibly constructing a series of smaller buildings under what Karr called a ‘‘punt and fall back scheme” that they already have floated to the county’s Wheaton Redevelopment Advisory Committee.
Another option would be to do nothing and simply wait for the next building boom to renew interest in the project."
Karr's purposed strip mall will deface Wheaton yet again. Instead of falling back on his punt and fall back scheme. I'd like to punt him right out of Wheaton.
anonymous #1: those plans are from what anonymous #3 noted are Karr's "fallback scheme" for the site. The original proposal had 600,000 square feet of mixed uses. That's about half of Downtown Silver Spring . . . it would have been a lot more than just a strip mall, but that looks like what we may get instead due to the market downturn.
Its a sad reality that anchor inn could be turned into another wheaton triangle or wheaton shopping center strip. I really hope the space will be reconfigured.
Despite the fond memories of Anchor Inn, another reason for its demise was the failure to maintain the quality of it food.
It had gotten the point that the only reason I kept going was for the hamburgers, not the seafood-
I agree it should not have been razed, and I dread if the put anykind of retail business there as it would slow down traffic, unless they elinnate a University Blvd. entrance, on the other hand- Wheaton could use another good steak place
This is an example of how fundamentally out of date our zoning ordinance is. How is it that a surface parking lot is even a permissible land use in a place like downtown Wheaton?
Yet not only is it permitted, it can be built "of right" without the kind of special permission that the developer has to jump through if he wants to house people instead of housing cars. Why isn't the fallback in that situation a street-fronting apartment building with no parking? Surely, the shortage of affordable housing for people in Montgomery County is a greater social problem than the shortage of affordable housing for cars.
Gee, am I the only one who noticed the big, ugly Silverman sign posted on the property? Mr. Ross, you're a big Silverman supporter; didn't you see it, too? I wonder why the developer of the property is supporting Silverman? Maybe he figures that will allow him to build whatever he wants to there.
So what do you think the owner of that property ought to build on it, besides an Ike Leggett sign?
A parking lot? A junkyard? A drive-through massage parlor?
Have you noticed how short-tempered the Silverman supporters are getting? Speaking of Silverman supporters, "Slippery Steve" claims in the Post today that he has an additional 1,250 supporters he never mentioned...because they don't want to be publicly identified as supporting him. And a couple of property owners have quietly taken down their big Silverman signs. See for yourself.
We need to see through the cynicism of Wheaton, sure its been on hard times for a while now... but I do see some movement spuring hope. For example, Best Buy being built at former Toys'R'Us, new Safeway grocery moving into a mix-use development (Avalon Bay Community) where BB&T white office building is on Georgia, open land next to Wheaton Metro after Safeway move, Good Counsel Residential Development, Opening up of the overlay zone restrictions... In other words prospects for Wheaton are looking up (Even though the Anchor Inn site is a debacle currently). Before all the pessimism kicks into full swing realize the prospects ahead. Also, I personally could never envision Wheaton as another "town-center" or qusi-Disneyland Silver Spring. Wheaton has always had spunk and the small businesses to hold it together. I think the redevelopment that will happen in Wheaton will be different from Silver Spring's method of gutting and starting a-new.
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