As if Walmart weren’t enough, Arboretum residents might have another superstore to look forward to at Bladensburg Road and New York Avenue NE.
Developer Rick Walker and Walmart community affairs director Keith Morris said that a Lowe’s hardware store could possibly share the large triangular space reserved for one of the four Walmarts slated come to D.C. by 2012.
Speaking at a public meeting convened last night by Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas, Walker—the man behind the area’s Giant Food Store, Home Depot and AJWright—said that he also plans to build smaller retail stores, two drive-through banks, and maybe restaurants on the 12-acre site now covered by defunct auto repair lots.
If the partnership with Lowe’s comes to pass—from the tone of the meeting, it sounds likely—then the project will reflect a similar Walker venture in Baltimore, where this year he proposed to build a Walmart and Lowe’s side by side.
Walker and Morris also touched upon some tentative parking ideas. While reluctant to reveal specific information about design, they did mention that they plan to use square footage comparable to Home Depot’s underused lot on Rhode Island Avenue. They would mitigate the sprawl, however, by dividing the spaces throughout a three-story, aboveground garage which, they said, wouldn’t rise higher than 40 feet tall. Cars could access the lot through at least five entryways: one from New York, two from Montana Avenue, and two from Bladensburg.
Residents gave the presentation a lukewarm reception. The only time things got relatively tense came when several residents asked about getting Walmart’s promises in writing, so that the community could hold them to it should things change.
Morris responded by pointing out that the company generally stays away from community benefits agreements, saying that “we don’t think they’re the best way” to plan a project with local input. He and Walker did say they were open to signing other documents as the plans for development become more concrete.
Thomas remarked that he would hold Walmart accountable himself.
Besides that, the meeting didn’t yield much that Walmart and the city haven’t already said. More information, especially specifics on design, is supposed to come out at a future meeting hosted by the Arboretum Civic Association. No dates have yet been scheduled. For now, all we have are these vague sketches.