The owner of the Meadowbrook Shopping Center has reduced in scale a two-phase plan that would have seen the eventual replacement of the existing retail complex with a five-story building.
However, plans will move forward to construct a five-story building next to the shopping center.
“The developer has informed me that they plan to remove phase two from their site plan and will proceed with a by-right development of around 73 units,” said city planner Ebony Walden in an email to neighbors concerned about the development.
The developer, Pinnacle Construction, and landowner Clara Belle Wheeler submitted preliminary plans in March to redevelop the shopping center as a five-story apartment building with commercial space on the ground floor, as well as a five-story residential structure next door.
The new plan only entails a building adjacent to the shopping center that they believe could be build by-right.
“With 73 units, and re-calculating the density based on the direction from [Walden], the density is within the limits permitted by the zoning ordinance for this zoning district,” said
Valerie Long, an attorney with Williams Mullin who is representing the developer.
That means Pinnacle and Wheeler will not need to obtain a special use permit, though they will need City Council to approve a critical slopes waiver and the Planning Commission to endorse the plan’s compliance with the city’s entrance corridor guidelines.
“Our team is working on the plan revisions, and we plan to submit the revised plans in the coming weeks,” Long said.
Walden said the Planning Commission will not review the waiver and entrance corridor application until its July 9 meeting at the earliest.
Neighbors of the project packed into a City Hall conference room in April during a meeting where the initial site plan was reviewed by city staff. Earlier this month, Long briefed the group
on the change.
“We think that most of the concerns that got voiced back in April are still on the table and we are especially concerned this building is far too tall,” said nearby resident Jack Brown.
Brown said the new building will take up the last piece of green space on Wheeler’s property. He also said he would prefer Wheeler hold off and build something that could utilize all of her
“We still see nothing that shows any sensitivity to building right next to two established neighborhoods,” Brown said.
The city’s entrance corridor guidelines were established in a 2005 report written by city staff with assistance from Frazier Associates.
“Emmet Street has the potential to become more of an urban boulevard, with lively pedestrian activity and a greater mix and integration of uses,” reads that report. “Both Barracks Road Shopping Center and Meadowbrook Shopping Center may redevelop with retail, office, hotels, housing, and structured parking.
Wheeler’s property is surrounded by many other potential sites for redevelopment.
On the same corner of the intersection is a 0.3 acre parcel owned by Riverbend Management and occupied by ALC Copies.
Riverbend’s Alan Taylor confirmed in an email that the company has plans to redevelop that site, though nothing is final. ALC Copies is on a month-to-month lease.
On the other side of Barracks Road lies a 0.9 acre vacant parcel on which a gas station used to stand. The structure was demolished in 2008 and a Chevy Chase bank was expected to be built there. However, that has not yet happened and the bank still owns the site.
Nearby, construction is underway on a 300-unit student housing complex at the corner of Arlington Boulevard and Millmont Street near the Barracks Road Shopping Center.
Brown said he is concerned that the entire corridor could end up as a “vertical canyon” that would change the character of his neighborhood.