DCMud reports that Safeway has put their PUD approval on hold. On Monday, the Zoning Commission approved an indefinite delay for the project. This is good news. As best as anyone can tell, it indicates that Safeway are reconsidering their entire plan. If they choose the option of urbanism, I know that Torti Gallas will deliver a plan that is beautiful and energizing.
Adding a few residences above, townhouses behind, or even just a streetwall with a few independent stores would turn the project from a pig to a prize for Tenleytown. A commitment to LEED Gold certification and the reconfiguration of 42nd street will ensure that Safeway delivers on the real amenities they owe the neighborhood in exchange for a zoning exemption. Finally, Safeway must be flexible enough to design a building that does not require a forest to hide its bulk.
If the new store is beautiful and adds vibrancy to the city, I will be more than glad to support it. I know many others will, as well. But some will never support appropriate and sustainable growth.
It is easy to see this process as another company battered into submission by Tenleytown NIMBYs. But it’s far from that – I, groups like Ward 3 Vision, and the current board of ANC 3E understand that developers are not the enemy. A Wisconsin Avenue that serves all ages and facilitates community and sustainability is not only good, but necessary. This recent prodding was necessary to restart the motion towards TOD lost over the years of fighting.
The old regime of Tenleytown and Friendship Heights has fallen with this action. The divisive, victimizing attacks, a relic of the freeway wars, are tired and out of tune with modern planning. They have scared off too many developers with endless appeals. But their time is fading. Their secrecy and and tactics disengaged neighborhood residents. But their currency is spent. Their Rovian arguments once swayed commissions. But they fool no one anymore.