Monday, November 4, 2013

Latest EYA plans for Takoma Metro site development

Three update points concerning proposed Takoma Metro site development:

1) The Takoma Park City Council passed a Resolution Regarding Development Proposed for the Site of the Takoma Metro Station on October 28, 2013. 

2) WMATA's real-estate (PPDRE) committee will defer its consideration of a Takoma Amended Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with developer EYA -- reactivating the expired agreement from the previous development initiative -- until at least its December 5 meeting. In particular, the Takoma traffic study that WMATA is conducting was not completed in time for November 7 PPDRE consideration.

3) Jack Lester, an executive at developer EYA, has provided an updated building + site design plan. It shows a degree of response to community concerns. Mr. Lester wrote, in November 4 e-mail:
"Height: We have eliminated an entire level of residential from the building. The building is now 4 levels of residential above the podium level.

"Parking: We have dramatically reduced the residential parking from .87 spaces/unit to .67 spaces/unit. This results in a reduction of parking of more than 40 spaces.

"Density: Density has been further reduced to 208 total units."
The key page to look at is the last, A08. You will see that while the building is maximum 4 levels above the podium, the podium height at Eastern Ave NW is 18' 4" for a total building height, fronting on Eastern Ave, [corrected November 4:] of 39' 8", rising to 50' 4" after a set-back of only 8 to 10 feet, despite zoning restrictions that limit the front half or so of the building, which bears Washington DC R-5-A zoning, to 40'.

My only other comments for the moment are: a) EYA has not relocated the building's loading dock. It still opens onto Eastern Ave NW, which would mean vehicles including trash trucks backing in across the Eastern Ave sidewalk, a clear safety hazard. b) The distance between the "ADA drop off" and the elevator entrance to the station remains significantly greater than the current distance. This degradation of transit accessibility for the disabled and the elderly is a continuing negative about the design.

7 comments:

  1. Presented with an opportunity to put meaningful density at a site directly adjacent to a metro station, Takoma Park instead insisted on an absurdly low height limit of 50ft. I will never again take seriously any claims that Takoma Park has to environmental sustainability. This is a terrible mistake which will serve to sustain car-dependent sprawl at the edge of the city.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sammy, we can have our density cake and eat it too. EYA should design a building that either eliminates residential parking (my personal, and personal only, preference) or reduces and consolidates it on a single level, located underground, eliminating the need for a round-the-building driveway and 3 levels or ramps and also reducing the building height, without sacrificing apartment units. The Takoma Central building now under construction (the building that will house Busboys & Poets) has 2 levels of underground parking. Other nearby recent residential buildings have their parking under the apartments. EYA should get with the times.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Seth if underground parking is such a concern, then incentivize it by letting the building go 2 levels higher. An insistence on cost-generative features like this is a major reason why moderate-income people can't afford apartments in transit-oriented areas. I would have thought that the residents of Takoma Park would be in favor of making it easier for people to afford the rent in areas where they can get around without a car, not harder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sammy, underground parking is a compromise solution. It would allow EYA to maintain or even increase the number of units in the building while effectively addressing community concerns about building height. As for letting the building go 2 levels higher, do you mean 2 levels above the current 70' height? Really that's excessive, and it's far beyond the 50' that the zoning permits in the back half of the lot and the 40' allowed in the front half. Please consider that zoning exists to guide development and any changes should be widely accepted if not welcomed. A change to allow a 90' building at that location would not be widely accepted or welcomed.

      Delete
    2. Your 'compromise' is entirely regressive because the cost of the underground parking would be passed on to lower income people (renters) for the benefit of high income people (local homeowners). "Community concerns"? I get it: in Takoma Park, increased access to affordable, environmentally-sustainable, transit-oriented housing runs a distant second to hand-wringing about the heights of buildings.

      Delete
  4. Seth, writing as a Takoma Park resident (in your ward), it seems very hypocritical for Takoma Park to desire no residential parking in this building (in the District) when literally across the street (in Takoma Park) are single family houses with driveways with 1-2 cars parked in them. Yes, I know about historic district and all, but if Takoma Park residents who live across the street from the Metro find it necessary to have cars, why wouldn't we expect residents on the other side of the street from these houses to not need a car? I'm not saying the folks in Takoma Park shouldn't have cars (it's not like we're living in the middle of downtown), but I think Takoma Park is being far too strident in saying this development has too much parking.

    To be honest, I think your strongest points were about the loading dock and ADA drop off. The setback and height at the sidewalk seemed consistent with some of the other buildings on Eastern Avenue. And, frankly, it seemed 5 stories , especially on the side near the tracks, is very appropriate, if not higher. But, height is easier to change than the other, more reasonable issues you brought up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Edward, thanks for your comment. We legitimately differentiate new construction from existing homes, but regardless, it's part of WMATA's joint-development guidelines that development on WMATA property should be transit-oriented, which indicates fewer residential parking spaces. WMATA particularly wants the new adjacent-to-transit residents to use public transit.

      Anyway, in no-residential-parking, I was stating a personal view and not one I'm promoting as an elected representative.

      Delete