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The Walmart-centric development planned for the triangle of land between New York Avenue, Montana, and Bladensburg—newly christened “The Point at Arboretum”—is not the best of the four planned D.C. stores, due in large part to the fact that fully half the land is taken up by parking lots totaling 1,339 spaces, including a three-level garage that will take up the majority of the Montana Avenue frontage. It’s no wonder that Office of Planning Director Harriet Tregoning had “issues” with the large tract review application as originally submitted.
The plan still looks basically the same. But it does look like Tregoning might have been able to negotiate a few improvements around the edges.
For example, the public spaces got a little nicer. The glass on the restaurant building at the New York/Montana intersection has been wrapped around the corner, and the buildings pulled up closer to the street, with more greenery as a buffer with the sidewalk. On the top level of the parking garage, they’ve added a “sky park” with tables and chairs that will look out on the Walmart entrance rotunda. The smaller surface-level western parking lot got a pedestrian promenade, and developer WV Urban says they might be willing to host a farmers market there on the weekend.
It also got more accessible for people who aren’t driving cars. They’re designing a fancy Bikeshare station, and are also proposing to pay for the addition of bike lanes along New York Avenue themselves.
Finally, they’re allowing for the eventual addition of more density on the surface parking lots and low buildings along New York Avenue—most likely office rather than residential, which is too bad, considering that the best way to mitigate traffic issues is to have people walk from their homes to do their shopping.
Sure, you might still call it lipstick on an urban design pig (especially compared to what was planned for the site before). But given that it’s not fundamentally changing, it makes sense to get as many public space amenities as possible.
Here’s the whole thing.