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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 02/18/2011

D.C. planners have 'issues' with first Wal-Mart proposal

By Mike DeBonis


The review process has started for what is likely to become the District's first Wal-Mart.

Developer Rick Walker has submitted plans for his project near New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road NE to the D.C. Office of Planning. The submission begins a detailed review by several city agencies.

The plans include a 126,000-square-foot Wal-Mart atop a two-story building, another retailer of equal size below, plus four out-buildings -- two "bank pads" of 4,000 square feet, a one-story building with about 50,000 square feet of retail space and a three-story building with 56,896 square feet of retail. All of this is arranged around 1,388 parking spaces -- 1,215 of which are in a three-story garage.

The submission came in today without warning, said Harriet Tregoning, director of the planning office. "It's very unusual," she said, noting that the city generally engages in discussions with developers before a submission is made.

Some pre-discussions would have eased the process, she said. "We have some issues with it, so we'll talk to the applicant," she said, declining to detail what those issues are.

From the plans, it's not hard to guess what the issues might be. Tregoning, who has been a stalwart proponent of street-oriented retail and tailoring development for pedestrians and transit users, is probably displeased with the fact that none of the buildings front directly onto New York or Bladensburg -- the developers are opting to place surface parking there instead.

UPDATE, 5:55 P.M.: Here is a presentation on the project prepared by the developers.

More renderings after the jump.




By Mike DeBonis  | February 18, 2011; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  The District  
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This proposal is a sick joke. It just goes to show that any claims by Walmart that they are going to make an "urban" store are a blatant lie. That ocean of surface parking? The separate buildings holding smaller retail, which will inevitably be chains? The massive, blank shell for the Walmart itself? This monstrosity looks the same as every other suburban Walmart out there.

Why our D.C. Council isn't fighting this invasion that will drive out local jobs and local businesses is a question that truly angers me.

Posted by: turnageb | February 18, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

There's nothing "urban" about this design.

Back to the drawing board.

Posted by: ceefer66 | February 18, 2011 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Well, duh, in Bentonville this is an urban design. They didn't put in an RV lot and a place for pigs to wallow.

What do you expect from s4!+mart, but s4!+?

Posted by: blankspace | February 18, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

What the heck? This design - buildings in a sea of parking, is awful and inappropriate. The buildings seem ok - honestly, I was so overcome with the poor site layout that I didn't notice anything about the architecture.

Posted by: fredpat1 | February 18, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Whath local jobs and local businesses on NY Ave. will WalMart be hurting?That area needs some life pumped into it.That old theory will not apply here.

Posted by: kts38 | February 18, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

WalMart, please go elsewhere. u r not needed.

Posted by: masefa1 | February 18, 2011 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Chains might move in and displace...The Days Inn? The Checkers? The McDonalds? The Exxon station? The animal shelter? Horrors!

Posted by: Erasma | February 18, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

The open layout will offer opportunities for local entrepreneurs to flourish.

Posted by: blankspace | February 18, 2011 6:43 PM | Report abuse

It is beyond me that Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr why he would support bringing this monstrosity to his Ward. It is one thing to bring jobs to his Ward, its another thing to bring petty retail jobs that do no real job training or career for his Ward. Not only that, it will put others out of work. The traffic will be horrendous with this development. When is Harry Thomas Jr going to learn? He is Wal-Mart's flunky. Grow up, Thomas, and learn to think for yourself.

Posted by: pyramus12 | February 18, 2011 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Wal-Mart: The absolute, lowest-common denominator in America. Nothing more, much less.

Posted by: williamhuxtan | February 18, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

The area around NY & Bladensburg Aves is a stinking pit as it is -- even a suburban style Walmart store is an massive improvement.

Posted by: mikecapitolhill | February 18, 2011 8:40 PM | Report abuse


"Well, duh, in Bentonville this is an urban design. They didn't put in an RV lot and a place for pigs to wallow.

What do you expect from s4!+mart, but s4!+?"

Great comment!


Posted by: ceefer66 | February 19, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse


"The area around NY & Bladensburg Aves is a stinking pit as it is -- even a suburban style Walmart store is an massive improvement. "

That's why it needs something imaginative. The right type of development could make the area into something desireable.

I've got nothing against Walmart, per se. But the p[lan presented is the wrong plan for an urbam neighorhood.

And to those who complain that Wal-Mart will kill "local, mom & pops", that won't happen in the NY & Bladensburg are unless Wal-Mart will be selling gas, washing cars, running a cheap motel, selling used tires or operating a strip club.

Posted by: ceefer66 | February 19, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Just needs a bus shelter and it's ready to go.

Posted by: blasmaic | February 19, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Mikeoncaphill, just hush

Posted by: mlr1960 | February 19, 2011 7:04 PM | Report abuse

I like the design and utilization of space! It's definitely a shopping center I'll come to from Maryland or Virginia. Most of the customers will be commuters desiring an environment where they are comfortable. I've even heard Lowes Home Improvement will be occupying the site and that Council Member Thomas has promised a job center. I like all the stores along the New York Avenue corridor including Days Inn, Checker's, Dunkin Donut, etc. I frequent them on visits to the National Arboretum. What everyone seems to be missing is that Walmart has to compete with Costco (which is being built in another closeby shopping center) and Aldi in another. No one has objected to the design where Costco is being built, which is similar to the Walmart proposal.

Posted by: don_id | February 19, 2011 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Of the 4 proposed stores, only Deanwood makes sense--a large store in a retail desert, near a Metro. This one is not that far from a larger, existing Wal-Mart in PG and is poorly fitted to an area that doesn't have a lot of transit. The proposed Costco nearby will be a bigger draw and makes more sense for an auto-oriented site.

Wal-Mart generates low wage, high turnover jobs with lousy benefits. It's not what DC needs (or anyplace else for that matter). It would make more sense to develop a power center or something else that would complement the Target and Costco stores that will go up nearby.

Posted by: thebuckguy | February 21, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

@ceefer66 - Bladensburg at NY Ave is not an urban neighborhood. A D.C. address does not automatically make a place urban. This parcel is isolated from the rest of the city by the cemetery, arboreteum and highwayesque NY Ave.

As to suggesting the developer needs to build something imaginative to anchor the area... If the developer follows zoning code, is not asking for public money or tax incentives, etc.. what obligation do they have to build something dynamic? That exposes them to risk they don't need to take just to create externalities for the area.

The DC Council should have changed the zoning for this area years ago if this sort of development was not an acceptable use.

Posted by: fourthandeye | February 21, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

This project works great in that part of the city. A lot of out-of-towners will pass by and shop there bringing lots of money and generating much needed jobs. The tourists staying at nearby hotels will have some place else to spend their money besides at the the used car lots, junk yards, etc. that currently exist at that location.

Finally, someone's getting rid of the blight that thousands of tourists pass and replacing it with something useful. Regardless of whether or not you like Wal-Mart's design, we can all agree that it is much, much better than what's there now!

Posted by: cs33 | February 21, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

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