Cafritz Development Update

June 14th saw the 3rd and final meeting of the initial round of Cafritz Property community workshops. The development team has publicized the following rough time line of further planning stages for development: 1) design principles 2) concept plan 3) file for rezoning. Public input from the completed initial round of meetings is now being synthesized by the development team into design principles, Step 1. These principles will be discussed and possibly amended based on public input in two identical meetings in July. Here are the tentative dates:

-THURSDAY, July 26TH (7-9pm) -SATURDAY, July 28th (10am-12pm)

The development team will then use finalized design principles to draft a concept plan, Step 2. That plan will be presented in two identical meetings in September. Here are the tentative dates:

-SATURDAY, September 15th (10am-12pm) -TUESDAY, September 18th (7-9pm)

*all meetings take place at Riverdale Elementary School (5006 Riverdale Road)

The final Step 3 will then be to apply for rezoning the property to allow for the mixed use development. If all goes well for the Cafritz’s, the earliest groundbreaking can be expected is fall 2009.

The Route 1 Growth blog has an insightful and valuable discussion on the pros & cons of re-zoning the site for dense mixed use versus developing single-family homes with the existing R-55 zoning. Route 1 Growth also has a list of important questions for the public to ponder in this development process. We highly encourage perusing these posts and their accompanying discussions. They are an invaluable resource for public involvement. The posts discuss (among other insightful things) the possibility that the development team already has multiple concept plans in part or whole, and is simply holding their series of public meetings to determine which will sit best with the public. Because development is a highly political process, this strategy would hypothetically gain the developer public support when it comes time for rezoning and other types of government approval.

Actual Cafritz Development planning strategy not withstanding, here is a synopsis of public input from meetings 1 and 2 of the first round of workshops that, in meeting 3, the development team reported to be salient. The development team will purportedly use this input to draft concept plans that did not exist before the June 14th meeting…

    Place-Making – Make a place for all ages that gives opportunities for informal socializing. Ensure housing that is compatible with surrounding communities. Pearl St. - Boulder, COMinimize tall buildings (especially above tree line). Use case studies of places including Georgetown, Bethesda Row, Silver Spring, and Boulder, Colorado. Include recycling, child care, recreation, adult education, and senior facilities. Include volleyball courts, interactive sculpture gardens, a skate park, water features, and sidewalk dining.
    Livability – Make dense varied housing accommodating a mixed income market that follows a village concept. Ownership is preferred over rental. Arrange density in a bull’s eye design (increasing density toward development’s center). Provide senior housing and no student housing. Mitigate impact on local school enrollment.
    Open Spaces & Connections – Ensure open public community spaces that vary in size (not one outdoor mall). Make green spaces inter-connective with paths. Include flexible open space similar to the Astroturf in Silver Spring. Develop a continuation of the Rhode Island Ave. pedestrian/biker right-of-way path connecting the Calvert Hills neighborhood of College Park to Riverdale Town Center. Connect the development to surrounding trails in a way that enhances overall local trail system connectivity. Make an automobile connection to Riverdale Town Center.
    Transportation – Enact programs that bring pedestrians, not cars. Make “right-size” sustainable parking to minimize impact on surrounding neighborhoods that has minimal visual impact. Create alternate north/south routes to Rt. 1 to minimize cut-through traffic in surrounding neighborhoods. Make an east/west connection over the CSX tracks to River Road. Make a clearer articulation of streets, curbs and sidewalks with more and safer Rt. 1 crossings.current Cafritz forest
    Environmental Sustainability – Maintain an overall green quality with retail adhering to LEED standards. Retain as many mature trees as possible, especially in buffer areas. Employ native species, incorporate wildlife habitats, make community gardens. Contact the county about storm drainage and other off-site issues.
    Culture & Community – Integrate the arts with the overall mixed-use and village concept in a way that is connective to the Hyattsville Arts District. Do not duplicate East Campus amenities. Include permanent gallery space, mixed use community meeting space, and a combined food/music venue that are all designed for the larger community.
    Business & Retail – Integrate open-air business and retail in ways that support pedestrian activity and help revitalize Riverdale Town Center. Encourage craft markets and local ethnic restaurants and business. Limit national chains and big box stores.

We hope that the development team will make a good faith effort to incorporate as much of this public input as possible into fresh concept plans.

8 thoughts on “Cafritz Development Update”

  1. David: Thank you for this summary of the public input provided to the Cafritz folks, as summarized in their 3rd initial public meeting, and thanks for the information about the planning and consultation process they have proposed to follow going forward. All very interesting. I’m impressed so far by the Cafritz family’s willingness to ask for and listen to the hopes and concerns of everyone in the community. We in turn obviously need to think carefully about what we want (and don’t want), including by finding out as much as possible about the situation and listening respectfully to each other’s opinions. I appreciate very much the contribution that you and other bloggers are making to that process.

  2. Paul:  I agree that communication of our desires is important. That is a big reason why I linked this post to an ongoing discussion on the Route 1 Growth blog. Its discourse thus far is great to read, and participate in if one so wishes.

    With respect to the Cafritz’s expressed interest in the community, I just hope that our input is actually being incorporated into planning as we are told, and not being used as a barometer that shows which pre-existing plan (if any have been made) sits best with the community.

  3. Oddly, the transportation section does not include any mention of providing a Metro shuttle to keep cars off Route 1 and encourage transit-oriented residents. This was suggested by a number of people. One member of the team told me they were “costing it out.”

  4. Route 1 Growth: Does “costing it out” mean the team is assessing feasibility, or does it mean that mean the team has decided they do not want to bare the cost of a shuttle?

  5. Won’t creating alternative north-south routes or another east-west (and desperately needed) crossing over the CSX tracks create more opportunities for cut-through traffic? The current street layout focuses traffic onto the arterial, Route 1, thus alleviating the burden on the interior neighborhood streets. Though more north-south and east-west routes make perfect sense if one wants to reduce the endless congestion on Route 1, any such connections will inevitably attract traffic other than that of the immediate residents.

    Furthermore, what is meant by “student housing”? Does that mean housing intended for students or housing only open to students or housing available to all who can pay, including students? College students place virtually no burden on the county school system and thus may be perfect candidates for this housing. Ideally, though, there should be a diversity of residents.

    I would also suggest a reconsideration of the bullseye development shape, since it is incongruent with the city’s focus on Route 1 as a commercial corridor and is inconsistent with Route 1’s current position and expectation as the central artery. Focusing development to the interior of the lot would, by necessity, increase the penetration of traffic into the existing neighborhood. Also, focusing much of the development on the Route 1 side provides a good architectural opportunity to create a gateway of sorts to the City of College Park on the southwest corner of the property.

    The suggestions for public and open space would certainly benefit the city immensely and a continuation of the trolley trail is a must for this project.

  6. I assume student housing means housing intended for students, like University View. Of course housing would be open to anyone who can afford to pay.

    The bull’s eye design tenet has the advantage of leaving buffer zones on many sides, which is important to surrounding residents.

  7. But Route 1 is already overloaded. The SHA has determined that Route 1 is pretty much at capacity and its intersections are operating at a level of service that would receive a classroom grade of a E or F. This is permissible only because their intent is to push Metro use.

    To make this project work–if a zoning change is granted–will require something more than the transit adjacent development style that’s been deemed acceptable thus far in the Route 1 corridor. The Cafritz team will need to address the # of trips generated by residents and a Whole Foods (or other retail). Transit oriented development should limit parking and push users (commercial or resident) towards Metro.

    The property is in Riverdale Park and they may have less interest in creating a gateway to CP than connecting the property to their Mixed Use Town Center. And, as Chris said, the loss of green space is of concern to many residents, thus an attempt to buffer surrounding neighborhoods may prove essential to a zoning change.

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