In this article we draw attention back to a concern aired in a previous post. Many citizens have spoken up for the Cafritz’s to keep their property undeveloped, or to not pursue changing existing zoning to accommodate mixed use. Up to the second (previous) round of meetings at the end of June, the development team had not adequately addressed these concerns to the public at large. However at the latest meetings those concerns were addressed head-on by the development team.
The Cafritz’s acknowledged that not everyone in the community supports development that is mixed-use. In explaining their choice for mixed-use over other development styles, they claim that they have received more positive than negative support for their mixed-use project. They purport that their development will abate an under-served market.
To demonstrate that the Riverdale and surrounding area market is under-served, the development team cited these comparative statistics from the Washington Post: In DC there are 24 square feet of retail space per capita, and one grocer per 9,700 people. In Riverdale there are 15.8 square feet of retail space per capita and one grocer per 18,000 people. Riverdale’s figures are less than half the national average and are clearly deficient when compared to DC. Cafritz Property development would conceivably close that gap by some amount by serving the local market. All concerned parties will not be appeased by the Cafritz’s answer for mixed-use development. But we commend the developer nonetheless for stepping up and explaining their reasons this time around.
It is worthwhile to note that comparing the Riverdale area to DC and national market averages assumes that DC and the nation as a whole are efficiently served by their retail markets. For example, are DC’s 24 square feet of retail space per capita all truly necessary? Could better planning reduce that figure while maintaining or even improving DC’s consumer utility from its retail market? Such planning is necessary in today’s age of urban sprawl, abandoned strip malls, and vanishing green space.