Proposed apartment complex at Takoma Metro will cause congestion, residents say -- Gazette.Net


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Residents are worried that a proposed apartment complex at the Takoma Metro station will destroy green spaces and cause more congestion.

Residents weighed in on the proposed project by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and EYA, a private developer that works almost exclusively around Metro stations, at a community meeting at the Washington Theological Union in Takoma, D.C., on Tuesday night. The next public meeting is a similar presentation to the Takoma Park City Council scheduled for Monday.

Conceptual drawings for the project to be built on the existing Metro parking lot include a 210-unit apartment complex, a parking lot for Metro customers and an upper-level lot for apartment residents. About 10 percent of the apartments will be affordable housing, to comply with a D.C. requirement, according to Jack Lester, a senior vice president at EYA.

While the station is in D.C., it is right on the Takoma Park border and Takoma Park residents have been weighing in on the project.

“This is transit-oriented development,” said Stan Wall, director of real estate and station planning for WMATA. “It’s a type of community development that includes residential, retail and walkable neighborhoods a half a mile from public transportation.”.

The plan will decrease parking at the station from 140 spaces to 100 because the lot is typically now used to half its capacity, Wall said.

Some residents were concerned about limiting Metro parking and how the project may take away parking for residents on Eastern Avenue. Other concerns included increased traffic around Blair Road and Cedar Street.

But other residents were supportive of the plan.

“I think these concerns are overblown,” said Robert Patton, a Takoma resident.

Wall said the green space at the Metro station will not be developed.

“Years ago the plan was to develop the entire lot but it was scaled back to save the green space,” he said.

Residents suggested making the park an active space with fountains or a garden.

Past plans lacked an emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle access, something Wall said the new project focuses on.

The updated plan includes a sidewalk around Eastern Avenue and Cedar Street.

WMATA also plans to add more space at the station to secure bicycles and a new bus bay and one layover bus space.

Wall and Lester said they were unsure how the D.C. streetcar might affect the project if it terminates at Takoma. The green space may be developed for the streetcar, but plans are not yet finalized. The District Department of Transportation is finalizing plans for a streetcar system that connects neighborhoods in D.C. Wall and Lester said more information would be available in six to 12 months.

“We need a park there,” said Sara Green, a member of D.C.’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B. “They’re trying to do too much in too little space,” said Peter Feiden, a Takoma Park resident. “This doesn’t take any opportunity to make the transit to Metro any better. It’s just adding more bike racks and not really helping access to the station.”

The project dates back 13 years. Some residents have been coming to public hearings since the first concepts were shown. The first proposal included townhouses instead of apartments. The proposal received a lot of complaints from the community, like worry about an increase in traffic.

“I’m delighted that we’re still engaged,” said Faith Wheeler, who serves on the advisory neighborhood commission. “This project was originally the reason I ran. I thought it was not good for the community.”

Many residents voiced concern that the size of the complex will dwarf everything in the neighborhood. The complex is planned to be four to six stories, according to Lester.

Neighborhood commissioners don’t want the project to begin until there is a traffic study, Green said. WMATA does not have a release date for the traffic study.

After the public hearings, EYA will submit a planned unit development application to the D.C. zoning commission, which will take approximately 12 to 18 months to process, according to Lester.

“The community is very engaged in this project,” said Takoma Park City Councilman Jarrett Smith (Ward 5). “The community wants a say. EYA and WMATA have to make sure they pay attention to residents during the project, otherwise there might not be a project.”

View the plans online at dc-mdneighborsfortakomatransit.org.

mchertock@gazette.net