Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Taco Bell in Takoma Park?!

MUY! Companies, based in San Antonio, Texas, the 6th largest franchise restaurant company in the U.S., proposes to build a new Taco Bell restaurant in Takoma Park, at the corner of Holton Lane and New Hampshire Avenue. The development will reportedly include outdoor seating, a drive-through, improved pedestrian areas, sidewalks, landscaping, and stormwater management.

I recognize and appreciate MUY!'s willingness to invest in our community. That New Hampshire Avenue spot is currently an unproductive, unattractive expanse of asphalt, part of the Aldi grocery parking lot. Nonetheless --

I oppose the plan. The proposed Taco Bell, with a drive-up service window, is a poor fit for Takoma Park.

Yet I see a win-win-win path forward, one that welcomes MUY!'s proposed investment in Takoma Park, in keeping with MUY!'s statement, "We also believe in investing in our neighborhoods." (http://muycompanies.com/)

This win-win-win path forward also accommodates Takoma Park priorities that include promotion of locally owned, non-chain businesses and pedestrian friendly development (that is, deep-six the drive-up service window).

The third winner is the local economy, which features a diversity of successful, non-chain (or small-chain) restaurants such as, along Takoma Park's New Ave, Mid-Atlantic Seafood, Sardi's Pollo a la Brasa, and Tiffin, The Indian Kitchen.

What better way for MUY! to invest in the neighborhood than by partnering with a small, local business to create a non-chain restaurant that would be far better suited to this vibrant section of Takoma Park? As a minority (49% or less) owner, MUY! would bring financial resources and food-service expertise to the table. MUY! and partner would revise their site design to promote visits that extend to other area businesses, that help build community instead of catering to pass-through business.

MUY! Companies, how about it? I'm sure the City of Takoma Park and our diverse community would warmly welcome your venture here, reworked to promote our shared values!

Seth Grimes

Takoma Park City Council, Ward 1
sethg@takomaparkmd.gov, 301-873-8225


References:

1) Holton Lane Area Improvement Vision (2009):

"The streetscape represents the public realm – the place where the pedestrian interacts with the built environment, and great care must be taken to ensure that Holton Lane is perceived as an attractive, comfortable, and safe place to spend time. The streetscape should strike a balance between the pedestrian and the car, accommodating both without sacrificing safety and comfort for the pedestrian."

2) International Corridor Community Legacy Plan (2003):

See page 16 of the file (page 23 of the doc), which call for "Recruitment and marketing of area to ethnic restaurants and food services," "Build critical mass and clustering of internationally-themed businesses in several commercial nodes along the corridor," "Increase the number of internationally-themed businesses recruited to the corridor over time," etc. Further down, we have the opinion, "Presently, the Corridor is an unwieldy auto-oriented mess."

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