Council Votes Unanimously to Move Forward with TJ Redevelopment
At last night’s meeting, the Council voted unanimously (7-0) to move forward with the redevelopment of the City lot at Takoma Junction. The vote authorizes the City’s development partner, Neighborhood Development Company (NDC), to proceed with seeking a letter of intent with an anchor tenant other than the Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-op.
While it was, and still is, the Council’s hope that the Co-op would expand into a newly constructed facility at the site, NDC and the Co-op were not able to reach an agreement within the five-month window permitted by the Development Agreement between the City and NDC. As a result, the Council was faced with the decision to either end the agreement with NDC and pay up to $75,000 for expenses incurred to date in preparation for redevelopment of the site, or to allow the project to move forward without an agreement between NDC and the Co-op, which will allow NDC to seek a different anchor tenant if they are unable to come to agreement with the Co-op. In such case, NDC will be required to make reasonable accommodations to allow the Co-op to continue its operations in its current space.
During its discussion, the Council made it very clear to NDC representatives its hope that, although the deadline had passed, the developer would continue to work with the Co-op to facilitate their incorporation into the new development, and language to that effect was included in the final Council resolution. If they are not able to reach agreement, NDC has 18 months to execute a lease with a new anchor tenant and must make reasonable accommodations for the Co-op’s continued operation of its business, including access for loading of deliveries and customer parking.
As noted by residents during public comments and members of the City Council, it has been a long road getting to this point. But, as the Mayor stated during the meeting, the vote to proceed really represents a new beginning for the project. Much work is ahead to reach a final design of the Takoma Junction project. Most importantly, there is a whole Takoma Park community process ahead, which is being designed by a Council appointed committee, as well as the site plan review process through Montgomery County, which will include a thorough traffic analysis. The Council with input from the community will be weighing many aspects of the site plan, including design, parking, loading, community use space, and safety. As a City-owned property, the Council has final say, within the parameters of the County’s Codes.
One of many goals of the Council regarding the Takoma Junction project is to improve the aesthetic appeal of the commercial district in the interest of revitalization with a development that is contextually sensitive and environmentally sustainable. And, the Council is looking at the long-term needs of the City’s taxpayers by putting a key property back on the tax rolls.
More information on the Takoma Junction Redevelopment project is available on the City’s website.