Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ward 1 update: run-down/vacant properties, Takoma Central development

This post will bring you up-to-date on four pending projects in/near Takoma Park's Ward 1.

1) The city has been working for some time to deal with the abandoned, run-down house at 36 Philadelphia Avenue. Restoration may be feasible, or the house may need to be demolished. The city has contracted with an engineering firm to conduct an assessment, but the interior was so cluttered that clean-up was required to permit access. That clean-up took place on March 19, according to Takoma Park Housing and Community Development Director Sara Daines, and she is waiting to hear back from the engineering firm as to when they will be on site. The city will apply for a Historic Area Work Permit and decide next steps once the assessment results are in. If it seems demolition is the best/only option, we'll make sure that nearby residents have an opportunity to comment.

2) Walt Rave's house at 29 Holt Place was severely damaged in December 7 fire that killed Walt. The house has been condemned, according to Sara Daines. The city has inspected the property and, Sara reports, "the insurance company has addressed the issues raised by Code staff. We will continue to monitor the property to make sure that it is secured and the lot maintained in accordance with the Property Maintenance Code. Little will occur until Mr. Rave's estate is probated."

3) You may have noticed a For Lease sign in the vacant storefront, the former TJ's Market, at 7300 Carroll Avenue. That's a good thing. An environmental clean-up has been underway a few doors down, at 7306 & 7308 Carroll Avenue, to deal with fumes from dry-cleaning fluid from a dry cleaner formerly at 7306 Carroll. According to a staffer at the Maryland Department of the Environment, initial sampling show clean-up progress. Levels of perchloroethylene (PCE), a cleaning solvent, meet cleanup standards while levels of the trichloroethylene (TCE) solvent are slightly above standards. Remediation and testing are continuing.

4) The architect of the planned Takoma Central development, at 231-5 Carroll Street, NW, wishes to revise his plans, and the revised plans may need to go through a public review process. The Washington DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission has asked for a public hearing. ANC requests carry "great weight" in District decision-making.

ANC Commissioner Sara Green wrote on February 25 --

"Mr. Gharai [the architect] is asking Anne Brockett, of the Office of Historic Preservation staff, to approve two design changes to 231 and 235 Carroll Street (235 Carroll is the one with the foundation partially dug). DC law permits staff approvals if the changes are not significant.
"The changes: 1) removing the penthouse party room and roof deck (235 Carroll - not clear) and 2) moving the canopy from the red brick (corner of Maple and Carroll) section of 231 Carroll and putting it over the 'glass hyphen' feature that is in another part of the building.
"Based on the drawings and the description, I think the proposal makes the building, particularly 231 Carroll, look quite different. Therefore, I am asking ANC 4B to adopt a resolution on Monday night asking that the community be given an opportunity to comment and that HPRB hold a public hearing to review the proposals.
"Two drawings can be seen on ANC 4B's web page: http://ANC4B.info (Go to the 'issues' section the left and the scroll down to the Carroll Street items.) The drawings aren't clear to me, so I have asked Mr. Gharai to provide large sized color renderings and will put them in the Takoma Library."

Based on experience to date, I doubt that construction will restart within the next two months.

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