Rhode Islande Ave Great Streets Meeting Minutes (Mar 2009)

Posted at the Eckington list by Ward 5 resident Debbie Smith:

The meeting was held at the Washington Center on Aging on 18th Street NE.  125 persons was tallied to be in attendance by Steve Lee the Moderator.

The meeting started at 07:03 pm with Mr. Steve Lee giving an introduction of Derrick Woody from the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development. (DMPED)

Derrick Woody recounted the past meetings of this organized development group, with updates on what has happen since the initial meeting of 11/06/08.  He commented that the the business and building owners of the RI Avenue Corridor between, 4th Street NE and Eastern Avenue NE were in attendance at the meetings held in December and February.  The discussion of the 2 meetings held in those months, centered around the same information that was provided to the community at the November 6, meeting.  In addition, the ANC’s, property owners and leasee’s were asked their opinion regarding the vision that is being put forth by the city and Councilmember Thomas to transform the RI Avenue Corridor into a vibrant and inviting, revenue generating, service orientated gateway into the District. The project is at least 20-25 years in the making.  The sub-areas creation allows for combined efforts of opportunities of investments.  The created sub-areas are likely to change considering the market.  The community must maintain an active role in the process in order for this process to encompass the desires and needs of the stakeholders who will be affected.

Mr. Woody also wanted the group to understand the reason why the current situation exists: 40 years of under investment on the corridor. The consumer survey last fall netted 248 online respondents with 60% of the home owner’s living in the community for 5 yrs. All respondents use Rhode Island Ave NE (see Consumer Survey below).

The Rhode Island Avenue Great Streets Designation is a multiple agency effort to transform under-invested corridors into thriving and inviting neighborhood centers using public actions and tools, as needed, to leverage new private investments.

Sean Pichon from PGN Architects, covered the Urban Design and Land-Use Zoning  portion of the meeting.  He discussed the current land uses and the proposed land uses of the 4 sub areas that have been designated within the corridor. Two option were given for some sub-area; with an option of A & B.

(Please note the following briefing for each option provided current site pictures and futuristic ones)

Sub-Area 1: 4th Street to 12th Street NE: is considered the downtown area.  This will have variations of height structures for retail and housing.  (this also covers the warehouse district on 5th Street NE)  Zoning will be changed to accommodate the changes with (R-3, 4, 5A; C-1, 2-A, 3-A,2-C, CM 1,2).  Several property owners have not come on board as yet. The city wants strong consideration to maximizing the density in the area (up to 8 stories), to take advantage of the proximity of the transit oriented area. Option A – Allows for ground floor retail of appox. 369,000 SF while Option B – Allows for ground floor retail of appox 336,000 SF.  Both options have an Eight foot building height consideration that would be obtain through a Plan Unit Development (PUD) process.

Sub-Area 2: 12th Street to 18th Street NE;   C2-A and R1-B zoning.  Reconfiguration of the intersection to increase pedestrian safety while creating new pad sites for redevelopment. Option A – Allows for ground floor retail of appox. 135,000 SF while Option B – Allows for ground floor retail of appox 137,000 SF.  Both options have a seven feet building height consideration that would be obtain through a Plan Unit Development (PUD)

Sub-Area 3:  18th Street to South Dakota Avenue NE: will consist of C2-A and R5-A zoning. strongly encouraging residential living space  from 18th Street – 20th Street NE.  Would rehabilitate existing storefronts for arts uses, and other business.  This sub-area is close by nature (Langdon Park) Option A & Option B- Allows for ground floor retail of appox. 10,000 SF .  Both options have an six foot building height consideration that would be obtain through a Plan Unit Development (PUD)

Sub-Area 4:  South Dakota Avenue to Eastern Avenue NE: Considered as “The Gateway” provides one Option;  Allowing for ground floor retail of appox. 25,000 SF while encouraging mixed used development with related arts uses.  Willing to preserve existing structure where garage is currently.  Both options have an Eight feet building height consideration that would be obtain through a Plan Unit Development (PUD).

Nicole White, from Symmetra /Design covered the Transportation and Traffic portion of the meeting.  She provided the audience with an overview of what she was able to determine are some of the major traffic problems, while providing solutions and adjustments to the RI Avenue corridor and adjacent streets.  Currently the District is working to find funding for a full transportation study.   Her outline covered:  Corridor improvements for truck maneuvering; Truck restrictions on Monroe Street and Transportation impacts associated with Sub-area plans. Transportation Maneuvering – Remove the small triangle island located E/W corner of Franklin Street and Rhode Island Avenue and enforce no parking.  This will allow more freedom of traffic use with the flow of traffic with additional transportation options; Closure of Brentwood Rd and 14th Street NE (adjacent to the Laundromat).  Since there is a small amount of traffic using Brentwood Rd NE, this area could be better served with redevelopment including the existing small store strip.  Closure of Evarts Street:  This is directly behind the Rite Aid Pharmacy.  This consideration will allow for additional development and walk thru of pedestrians to the Rite Aid Pharmacy.  Monroe Street and RI Avenue NE; Install truck restriction signs with enforcement;  18th Street btw Irving Street and RI Avenue (with a short street within this area identified as Queens Chapel Rd NE) is across from the old Dunkin Donuts – Redevelop a potion of the area; close portions of Hamlin Street and Queens Chapel Rd and create a new east/west Alley.  South Dakota and RI Avenue – Relocate the lane stop, heading north on S/Dakota at the corner of RI Avenue NE, back to the 25 ft mark.  This will allow for easier traffic turns from RI Avenue turning onto S/Dakota, heading South. Also include bollards to protect the pedestrians.

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