Redevelopment at the Takoma Junction: What’s happening now?
From Rosalind Grigsby, Community Development Manager in the Housing and Community Development Department
Redevelopment is coming to the Takoma Junction, in the form of renovation of the City-owned parking lot on Carroll Avenue next to the Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op. A year ago, the City Council selected Neighborhood Development Company (NDC) to redevelop the lot with a mixed-use building, public space, environmentally-sustainable features and green space. The developer selection launched the next stage in the process. With a list of the Council’s priorities in hand, NDC is scoping out the technical requirements, initiating design work, developing the community input opportunities needed to bring the project to fruition, and working with the TPSS Co-op.
For decades the Takoma Junction has been the focus of community efforts, with committees, traffic studies, commercial revitalization plans and market analyses all focusing on improving the area. In 1995, the City purchased the 53,000 square foot parcel located at the intersection of Carroll Avenue and Philadelphia/Ethan Allen Avenues, with the intention of stabilizing this small, historic commercial district and facilitating the redevelopment of the area. After the rebuilding and expansion of the fire station and allocation of part of the space for the lower parking lot at the station, the City reconsidered the use of the property.
The site itself presents challenges which must be understood and managed before a detailed design can be developed. The site, a former dump, requires environmental clean-up and attention to stability of the slope. The green space on Columbia Avenue must be maintained and improved. Existing and predicted traffic patterns and parking needs must be analyzed and addressed, along with the market demand for the commercial space in the project.
To facilitate community input and feedback at critical stages of the development project, NDC has proposed a Council-appointed committee called the Community Consultation Process Advisory Committee. The committee’s efforts will focus on creating, in conjunction with NDC, the process needed to guide community participation on specific aspects of the development project. The committee will not be responsible for making substantive decisions or providing specific recommendations to the Council about the design, layout, or use of the planned development. Council discussed the proposal for this committee at the Council meeting on April 27th and expects to vote on the resolution and committee appointments in July.
Meanwhile, the City and NDC are negotiating a Development Agreement to hammer out details of the partnership; and NDC and TPSS Co-op are working on a separate agreement between themselves regarding the development. At this stage, the negotiations are largely happening between the attorneys, as the involved members work to find common ground and acceptable steps forward.
Once the Development Agreement is executed, the next steps in the process will involve NDC working with M-NCPPC on site plan approval and community engagement in specific parts of the design. Because of the extent of the preliminary work required, it may be two years before there is a shovel in the ground. The visible work – when heavy equipment comes in and the property becomes a construction site – is the culmination of a long process of research, design, planning and outreach. That work, invisible to the eye, is well underway and moving forward now.
Check takomaparkmd.gov for updates regarding the Takoma Junction redevelopment on the Takoma Junction Redevelopment page.