Housing Complex

11th-Hour Landmark Application Could Throw a Wrench in Walmart’s Plans

The proposed incorporation of a sense of the old car barn.

In a classic last-ditch anti-development tactic, the "Brightwood Neighborhood Preservation Association," headed by Ward 4 Thrives member Verna Collins, has submitted a landmark application for the Car Barn that now sits on the site of the Walmart planned for upper Georgia Avenue. The D.C. Preservation League had previously gone to bat for the century-old brick storage facility, but was pacified by Walmart's promise to include elements of the architecture and materials in the new store.

Last week, developer Foulger-Pratt started some preliminary demolition at the site, and was dinged for not having correctly applied to raze the building, which requires notifying the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission. Since landmark applications take precedence, the raze permit can't be approved until the Historic Preservation Review Board considers Collins' case at their meeting in late October.

Two other transit-oriented storage facilities, the Western Bus Garage in upper Northwest and Capital Traction Garage on 14th and Decatur NW, have had landmark applications pending for a while now. The HPRB typically takes up these cases when the site is actually at risk; that one could be a factor if WMATA ever manages to find another place to put its buses, freeing up the site for redevelopment.

  • Brightwood 34

    People give it a rest... If Wal-Mart leaves then what will happen to the space? Another mayoral campaign headquarters? Or another unimpressive open air market???

  • Wal-Mart = No Respect
  • h4pr

    It's a brilliant move, really. These people are already doing everything they can to price the long-time residents out of the real estate market. So now they've banded together to prevent them from having access to cheaply-priced products. In the final stroke of genius, they're using the digital divide to take advantage of the older, original folks in the neighborhood who probably don't even realize this fight is happening.

  • Southeast Ken

    It sounds like some Ward 4 residents are bitter angry individuals. Let this area remain a drug den and ghetto. These fools would complain if a Target, Best Buy, Wegmans, Whole Foods, Macys, Harris & Teeter, etc. come to this location.

  • Captain Grimm

    Verna Collins and her husband were up their eyeballs in debt last year, and now they're driving a brand new SUV...if someone took a look at her finances they would find a very interesting story...union envelopes are being passed out in earnest to both "neighborhood organizations" (most of which are run like Team Thomas) and individuals...where do you think they get the money for the yard signs and such?

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    Whatever happened to the Brigtwood Bistro across the street at the SW corner of Georgia and Missouri? That spot had potential.

    @Southeast Ken -- In defense of the UPTown, this area of 4D (HQ is right up the street at 60001 GA Ave.) can't/shouldn't be characterized as "ghetto." KDY is not what it used to be nor Rittenhouse nor other well-known strips where you could get all the no-good you wanted. It's not necessarily Leave-it-to-Beaver-Land but it sure isn't the southside. This area of UPTown has always had class. Further up on Underwood Street, Van Buren Street, etc. is where folks leave their houses every morning to go out to MD or downtown to work. Unlike some areas of the southside where that isn't always the case.

    It has its cuts (George Pelecanos new book focuses on this area of the city -- Piney Branch Rd. that runs into Peabody not the main drag Piney Branch) but it isn't really that bad. Not compared to cross-town areas. We all know this. We were raised on this and we have observed it to be true.

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  • Kyle W

    Ridiculous that this one lady can hold up progress. As one of those new middle class residents in Petworth, this project is ridiculously appealing to me. It will bring more jobs, more low-cost options for current residents, and take a currently abandoned corner block, and turn it into something much much better, all the while keeping people from driving to Maryland for cheap groceries and such, keeping the tax dollars where they belong, IN DC.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_t_in_dc/ Mr T in DC

    As a regular shopper at the increasingly overwhelmed Target in DCUSA, we could really use that Walmart to take the pressure off. I hope this obstacle isn;t insurmountable for the developer.

  • NWDC

    This tactic is so frequently used locally, we should give it an official name or something. The "ol DC Development Wrench" or something...

    Three folks used the same tactic in Cleveland park to try to stop a new Giant, by trying to get a `50 year old building that looks like a run down bomb shelter historic status.

    It failed, just like this one will with Walmart but it will take some time to overcome.

    One would really wonder why there is so much angst in preserving one of the worst ghettos on the east coast.

  • Bob

    Actually the landmark application for the Giant in McLean Gardens succeeded, because Giant in 2002 signed an agreement to build a new store according to a defined plan in exchange for the application being withdrawn. Giant had once proposed a several hundred foot blank brick wall along Wisconsin Ave., which the landmark application was meant to address. (In fact, at the zoning board hearings the current Giant developers publicly acknowledged that the application had kept Giant from building a lousy, non-urbanist design and thanked those who had filed it.) Unfortunately, Giant has not observed other elements of the 2002 agreement with Mayor Williams and the community group, which had added to the cloud of legal issues surrounding the the current project.

  • dcgovcorruption

    Frivolous complaints should carry a fine against any party filing it. Also, a bond requirement would prevent abuse

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  • DCCommish

    I agree with you all. The site isn't really historic at all. It's not like it was the first streetcar station in the USA. If that's the case then i want back all the tracks that went with it! They are historic too! You're all out of your minds if you actually think this deserves landmark status. Take your Walmart and enjoy some beneifts in the mean time. Otherwise shut your trap and be thankful you have nothing in your neighborhood and don't ask for any funding from the city or feds for any housing, urban development etc.

  • DC Guy

    dcgovcorruption hits the nail on the head. Three should be a bond required for zoning and preservation suits to limit the frivolous ones.

  • http://www.axiomsandchoices.blogspot.com ISHI

    i'm against walmart. period. what is this? outsourcing slavery to china for cheap junk food and environmental destruction? promoting millionaires? i live right near the proposed ga. ave walmart. (grew up downtown--a-m---but now i'm uptown). the area is spectacular. sure; ga ave could use an upgrade but we don't need it like 14th and park in columbia heights. there's already plenty of shopping in this area.
    some of the old timers here do want the walmart (tired of the way that strip looks). but that is short sighted. clueless.

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  • Let them Build It

    lol @ "plenty of shopping in this area" Shopping for what? Cheap wigs and rolling papers? This is a vacant lot that is currently contributing NOTHING positive to the community. So these grouchy development blockers would rather live next to a vacant, dirty, overgrown lot with "historic" half-demolished and very rusted streetcar facilities, than a JOB PRODUCING legal business that will provide affordable shopping that goes beyond liquor, wigs and fried chicken sales. GIVE ME A BREAK!!! Kudos to the community rebels who clearly have too much time on their hands for stalling this much-needed project for about a decade now. When was the last time they stepped foot on the property they are fighting for? Did they buy a car from the car lot that used to be there? Put a pet in that dog day car? Rent a car from Enterprise? Do they not take baths in the crumbled asphalt that exists there now? WHAT IS SO VALUABLE ABOUT THAT THE USE OF THE LAND CURRENTLY THAT IS WORTH ALL THIS FIGHTING?

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