Well, aren’t we proud in Ward 5. We got the first submittal of Wal-Mart’s planned 5 stores within the District. Not only that, they decided to propose a layout that is not fitting for an urban environment and basically is their suburban model. Now, I am not against Wal-Mart in general…but I do have concerns about this proposal as it is. This proposal is basically a huge parking lot based on their suburban model (after the horrendous development of the Giant/Home Depot at Brentwood’s layout, you would think that it is not good planning to create this type of development). This type of layout also promotes more cars on our streets (imagine more cars on New York Ave and Bladensburg?).
Now, I understand that creating any development on this property will need to be auto-centric since there isn’t a metro around but a 126,000sqft Wal-Mart Supercenter (let’s not be fooled, this big of a store IS a Supercenter) will draw on a huge radius for its customers, not the local neighborhood or community…and I haven’t even counted the traffic that would be generated by the bottom-floor retail user (which is rumored to be a Lowe’s). This means, people from all over will be getting into their cars, traveling along New York Ave and Bladensburg Ave. Most people will then use our neighborhood streets to get around the traffic jams.
In addition, more cars coming to DC means that it goes counter to the Comp Plan’s goals of reducing carbon emissions by 30%.
Now, as I said, I am not against redeveloping this area. I am 100% for it. A couple of years ago, Abdo was looking to build a mixed-use development with smaller, community retail under the residential/work force housing (think: Rhode Island Station development). This would be a better use for this site. These plans fell through for Abdo but that doesn’t mean Harry Thomas Jr should jump on the bandwagon of the first developer who wants to build. Promoting mixed-use at this location will create more neighborhood commercial retail with workforce/affordable housing that doesn’t strain our traffic patterns, would provide quality housing for DC’s workforce, and provide more retail options for the immediate area. Harry Thomas claims his goal is to create jobs for Ward 5 residents. Prehaps he needs to read this story by Reuters on Wal-Mart’s jobs and the community:
Wal-Mart’s lengthy struggle to open in New York City has hit fresh problems — a controversial report that said America’s biggest discounter does not just sell cheap, it makes neighborhoods poorer.
I hope that Harry Thomas Jr. takes the lead that other leaders in other Cities have done and focus on quality jobs and quality development and not jump on the bandwagon of the first developer who comes knocking. Thomas should demand a mixed-use development that focuses on neighborhood commercial that doesn’t impact our traffic, environment, or small business potential.
Now, if you want to let Wal-Mart know that this plan as it is currently submitted is not what we want in Ward 5, or if you would prefer that they build an urban-style or mixed-use style of redevelopment, you will have your chance: Wal-Mart is hosting a Meet and Greet on Wednesday, Feb 23rd, at 7:00pm, Room 402 at the John A. Wilson Building.