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The Office of Planning has signed off on proposals for the Georgia Avenue and Bladensburg/New York Avenue Walmart developments, saying that they’re “not inconsistent” with the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Now all the developers have to do is get final approvals from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and they’re off to the races.
Are the developments all they could be? Certainly not, from the perspective of the highest and best use of the District’s land. They’re both single-use developments, with no housing and large, flat expanses of roof area that won’t have progressive elements like green roofing or solar panels. They incorporate some greenery and seating areas, but hardly create great public spaces. They improve sidewalks and bike accessibility, but still have vast expanses of parking (admittedly only as much as required by current zoning regulations, which will be soon be changing).
The “large tract review” process, however, doesn’t give the District much leverage over those things, to the immense frustration of people who’d like to see developers held to a higher standard. ANC 4B’s concerns were only very summarily addressed, or ruled outside the bounds of large tract review. ANC 5B didn’t even submit comments, but it’s clear that they may not have mattered much anyway.
Walmart says it plans to break ground on both later this year. The Ward 7 location will have to go through a more extensive process with the Zoning Commission, an application for which should be filed in the next 30 days.