WHAT'S UP THE PIKE: ICC study underestimates air pollution; Shops, condos and labs for science complex on Cherry Hill Road; Poetry review eulogizes businesses in Downtown Silver Spring.
Takoma Park residents are protesting Bethesda-based developer EYA's plans to build townhomes, like these shown at Forest Glen Seminary, on WMATA-owned land at the Takoma Metro.
What happens when a Metro stop suddenly makes your neighborhood hot property? Since the Red Line first opened in 1976, transit-oriented development has been turning ignored corners of MoCo into cash cows, and residents on the ever-expanding frontiers of Metro accessibility are increasingly skittish.
On the listservs, Silver Spring residents have been anxiously watching the Sacks community in Downtown Bethesda, where a developer has offered some $200 million to buy out the neighborhood and replace it with office and condo towers. It's a move that echoes the sale of a subdivision adjacent to the Vienna Metro last year for a controversial, high-density project called MetroWest.
The possibility that fat-pocketed developers could snatch up an entire neighborhood is becoming a major concern in East Silver Spring if the Purple Line is built there. Audience behavior at recent focus groups for the proposed transitway illustrate just how wary neighbors have become of transit-oriented development.
so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .
A conceptual plan from 2005 shows how the Takoma Metro site would be used for housing, a small park, and a bus turnaround. Graphic courtesy of EYA.
Meanwhile in Takoma Park, the potential sale of land at the Takoma Metro for townhouses is stirring up controversy in the most liberal of MoCo's crunchy enclaves. Gilbert of the Takoma Voice's Granola Park blog is calling for a revival of the bulldozer-blocking activism that so-called "Parkies" were known for in the 1960's to stop the development from going forward.
If you've ever driven down University Boulevard east of Takoma Park, you'll see the huge swath of land where the North Central Freeway were originally slated to cut across inside-the-Beltway Montgomery and Prince George's counties. In an ironic twist, plans for the proposed freeways - which would have followed the current Red Line - would have incorporated housing at a transit station located where the Takoma Metro is now.
Plans by EYA - the same developer whose projects helped to jumpstart Silver Spring's and Wheaton's revitalizations - for the Takoma Metro site wouldn't involve the razing of an established neighborhood as has already happened in Vienna or could happen in Bethesda or even parts of Silver Spring, Long Branch and Langley Park if the Purple Line is built. Forty years ago, "freeway fighters" like future mayor Sam Abbott used the chant of "White Men's Roads Through Black Men's Homes" to protest freeway construction through working-class and minority neighborhoods; today, the heft of their words can't be applied to this project. Takoma Park claims there'll be a loss of parkland; to the naked eye, it's only a parking lot.
The Takoma/Takoma Park commercial center, which straddles the D.C./Maryland line, is characterized by low-rise buildings like these apartments on Carroll Avenue.
Never mind, of course, that the Takoma Metro site is in the District. It may be contiguous with the City of Takoma Park, but it's not in their jurisdiction. Known as "the Azalea City," Takoma Park has every right to watch out for green space within its limits - but this isn't exactly wilderness. And it's not like EYA is proposing something out of character with the low-rise development currently along Carroll Avenue. Nonetheless, "Parkies" do have a tradition to uphold.
Freeways tear communities apart. Transit-oriented development can, theoretically, bring people together - even if in protest of it. In the end, it seems like TOD is doing its job.