Takoma Park is considering how to best use the city-owned lot at the intersection of Grant, Carroll, and Ethan Allen avenues, between the Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op and the Takoma Auto Clinic.
The city staff plans to issue a solicitation next week for proposals on how the land could be used by a private company. The solicitation will be intentionally open-ended, staff said.
“I’m hoping people use their imagination,” Housing and Community Development Director Sara Daines said. “I think there’s a lot of room here to be creative about it.”
The city bought the 1.42 acre property - which is now a parking lot and wooded area - in 1995, with the intention of developing it. Currently the Co-op pays the city $18,000 a year to use a portion of the site for parking, storage, trash receptacles and a loading dock.
The city has also used it for its many festivals and public events.
“It has been an amazing ad hoc business space,” Takoma Park Media Specialist Craig Terrill said.
“What we’re hoping to do is take that energy, and activities, in the space... and turn that into a lasting investment,” Daines said.
Staff said that the lot will likely be developed by a private party, since no government needs have been identify and they would like to see the space used to bolster the economy in the area. Especially with new development on the southern side of Takoma Park - including Republic and Bus Boys and Poets - staff would like to balance that with new business in the northern part of town where the lot sits. The city has not yet decided whether it plans to lease the land to another party or sell it. “Whatever happens there will drive the rest of the changes at the junction,” said Howard Kohn, a member of the Takoma Junction Task Force.
In 2012 the Co-op submitted a proposal to use the site, but no action was taken. Co-op Director of Marketing Greg Czech wrote in a statement that the store was considering options for expansion and working with the city to ensure parking for their customers.
Tebabu Assefa also expressed interest in the site at a council meeting on January 6, to open a coffee shop.
Interested parties will be asked to submit a concept plan outlining a vision, neighborhood benefits, a financial plan, and qualifications and experience. The council plans to review proposals and take public input over the summer and make a decision on how to use the site in September.