This Is What a Parking Exemption Is Worth
Tonight's a big night for Tenleytown. After a year of neighborhood debate, ANC 3E is set to vote on the Douglas Development proposal for a six-story mixed-use building on the site of the defunct Babe's Billiards at Wisconsin Avenue and Brandywine Street NW. The development, as I laid out in my column last week, is controversial enough in change-averse Tenleytown; the fact that Douglas is seeking a zoning exemption from the off-street parking requirement is all the more so.
According to the soon-to-be-updated zoning code, Douglas is required to provide 87 off-street parking spaces it thinks its residents don't need. And so it's requested a so-called variance—nearly always granted these days if the local ANC approves—to exempt it from constructing any normal off-street spaces. (Douglas does still plan to provide a handicapped space and a space for a car-sharing program like Zipcar.)
In order to secure ANC support for the no-parking proposal, Douglas has to offer the commissioners something in return, namely a generous community amenities package that persuades them that the development won't lead to a surfeit of cars competing for street parking. After sometimes testy negotiations, Douglas and the ANC published a memorandum of understanding last night, outlining Douglas' end of the deal.
"Provided that the ANC supports the proposed redevelopment of the Subject Property and the applications for the PUD and map amendment to effectuate the project (“support” shall be indicated by a majority vote of the ANC on a resolution or motion supporting the proposed redevelopment)," the MOU reads, "Douglas agrees to the following."
The "following" includes (and I should note that the first two are not directly related to the parking situation, while the latter three are):
- The retail tenant(s) in the building can't include porn stores, check cashers, pawnbrokers, nightclubs, dry cleaners, banks, mattress stores (there are more than enough of those in Tenleytown as it is), convenience stores, chain stores that already have at least five D.C. locations, or stores that sell products weighing over 40 pounds, unless those products are only available by shipping/delivery (presumably to encourage pedestrian consumers rather than drivers who'll clog up the neighborhood's street parking).
- Douglas will make a number of improvements to the streetscape, including nine trees, a bench, a trash can, a table, and about $500,000 for the undergrounding of utility lines.
- Douglas will encourage transit use by designating a building employee as the Resident Transportation Coordinator, who will provide information about public transit and "generally encourage non-private auto usage"; and by installing a digital display with real-time bus and train schedules and information about nearby bike- and car-share stations.
- Douglas will give each tenant a free Capital Bikeshare membership, a free Zipcar membership, and a $100 transit fare card.
- And, perhaps most importantly on the parking front, Douglas will include a clause in all leases prohibiting residents from obtaining residential parking permits for on-street parking. Douglas will also obtain 20 off-street parking spaces at nearby facilities for patrons of the building's retail, and retailers occupying more than 3,500 square feet will validate patrons' parking.
Free CaBi and Zipcar membership? A $100 transit fare card? Nine trees and a bench? I'm starting to want to move here myself.
You can read the full MOU here. And I'll be attending tonight's meeting and filing an update thereafter. Stay tuned!
Rendering courtesy of The Bond at Tenley.