Wisconsin Avenue Giant Clears Final Legal Hurdle
The city's longest and most acrimonious fight over density has finally been resolved—and the densifiers won.
Not that there was really any question that those proposing to turn the one-story, mid-century Giant Foods on Wisconsin at Idaho Avenue NW into a mixed-use development called Cathedral Commons were right on the merits, when the Zoning Commission unanimously voted to approve the project back in 2009. The question, rather, was whether Giant would persevere through the delays to actually build the thing—it wouldn't be the only project to die after prolonged neighborhood intransigence.
A sign of confidence came last month, when super-solid homebuilder Bozzuto signed on as a backer. But the project still had a legal cloud hanging over it, in the form of a lawsuit argued in March. In a nutshell, the Wisconsin-Newark Neighborhood Coalition charged that the Zoning Commission didn't have the authority to remove a neighborhood zoning overlay, that the case should have gone before the Board of Zoning Adjustment, that the project conflicted with the city's Comprehensive Plan, and that the traffic study was bogus.
Today, the D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed the Commission's ruling on all counts, clearing the project to move forward. Giant threw a "launch party" over a year ago; the groundbreaking probably won't be far away.