Thursday, November 18, 2010


Three Men Outside Wheaton Station
Our friend Sara at Wheaton Calling has a lovely write-up of last night's meeting on the redevelopment of downtown Wheaton hosted by B.F. Saul. The developer was picked by Montgomery County and WMATA to build over the Metro station bus bays, on a 8.2-acre site bounded by Georgia Avenue, Veirs Mill Road and Reedie Drive. At the meeting, residents and businesspeople were rounded up into tables and asked to list things they wanted to see in the redevelopment, and there appeared to be consensus for preserving small businesses, traffic calming, and getting more people on the streets.

My favorite quote, however, would have to be this one:

I had to laugh at the chart they showed for what community groups they are getting input from. The list included several local blogs, including Just Up the Pike, Good Eatin in Wheaton, and the Talk of Wheaton, but NO mention of Wheaton Calling. Where's the love, B.F. Saul???

We love you too, B.F. Saul! Hope you do something about your shopping center in White Oak soon. Have you actually seen that place in the past ten years? The only things it's got going for it is a beer and wine store and a very strange homage to the painter Magritte.

Anyway: the developer is also eyeing several other properties in downtown Wheaton, including Parking Lot 13 at the corner of Grandview Avenue and Reedie Drive, which has been proposed as the site of a town square. Will Wheaton get its own version of Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring? Or does B.F. Saul have other ideas? Friend of JUTP Chip Py was at the meeting and told me that the developer's representatives were unresponsive when asked about their commitment to providing public space in their project.

In other news: Walmart will open four stores in the District within the next two years, says the Post. One of them will be in Brightwood at the corner of Georgia and Missouri avenues, barely two and a half miles from downtown Silver Spring, which actually makes it East County news as well. Can't help but be nervous about the proposal, but not because it's any threat to shops in downtown Silver Spring, none of which sell briefs and $1,000 TVs under the same roof, as far as I know. But a big box-with-parking isn't the most appropriate use for a site on a major city street that could have streetcars running down it. If they do bring a store to Brightwood, hopefully they can make it fit into a nice mixed-use complex like what was originally proposed for that location.

Like B.F. Saul, Walmart already has a nifty website to get people on board. Did you know that "the benefits of Walmart escape most of the Washington, D.C., population"? I didn't know we were so deprived!


Anonymous said...

The benefits of Wal-Mart certainly escape me. That aside, thanks for this and your other recurring analysis of the Wheaton redev.

Patrick said...

People from outside the area are stunned that we in Silver Spring don't have a Walmart within 10 miles. Even with a Georgia Avenue store in DC, we outside the beltway still won't.

While I'd be very unlikely to actually go to one, we could use the competition in grocery prices.


kate said...

Patrick, I believe this are "small-marts" - specifically not grocery store super-walmarts. I personally don't object to walmart as a concept but I do have issues if they are developed poorly. Parking should be limited and underground, and the store should be built into the urban streetscape. We'll see if that happens.

jag2923 said...

They are the "urban" (read: smaller) version of walmart, but they will still "offer customers a full grocery selection."

chippy said...

What you need to know about Walmart

Casey A said...

Graduate school exam question: "Some argue that big box retailers -- especially those that focus on bulk sales of groceries and sundries like Costco and WalMart -- are fundamentally incompatible with sound planning principles in urban areas. Others say this type of retail can be integrated into urban land use, transportation, and placemaking goals. Discuss."