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)
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. Minimize 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.
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.