A temporary future for Friendship Heights

I’ve got some more details about the new commercial building behind Mazza Gallerie. The National Realty Development Corp. want to have at least one of the five stores open in the 40,000 SF building sometime around 2011, according to the small-town rumor department. Although the FAR is hovering around 1 here, having something to activate the area will bring other business in and encourage other developers to add “units.” All along the course of the Broadway IRT in the early 1900s, speculators threw up one and two story placeholder buildings until the market warranted residential construction. Some lasted two years, a handful are still there. This Friendship Heights Plaza is in the same vein.

Site Plan. All images from NRDC

According to the tearsheets, it will have all of its storefronts on Western Avenue, with a tiny amount of parking in the rear. Having the shopping street on Western Avenue will add a lot of vitality to what is a pretty suburban condition now. An empty field and parking lot, part of the GEICO complex, faces the site across Western. The other buildings adjacent to it are two big-box department stores, and there’s a bus garage around the rear.

NRD is apparently aiming for a really high-end market. That’s no surprise, since Friendship Heights has remade itself as an upscale shopping district in recent years. Their research data highlights the affluence, homeownership, high ratio of females to males in adjacent neighborhoods.

Both views show Western Ave.

If the Tenleytown Safeway was modern traditional, then this is traditional modern. In terms of massing, it has asymmetric stone-clad corners with glass and steel in between.  I have to say it’s attractive and comes replete with shadow joints and exposed steel – sculptural I-beams like you’d never believe. Finally, it’s got the usual pro-urban ornaments like fountains and brick sidewalks, which should make it pleasant to walk by.

Like the T-Town Safeway, this isn’t ideal, but it’s still a positive change for the neighborhood.

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