Giant Food hopes to open a Peapod grocery pick-up facility and gas station at the Sunoco gas station site in Chevy Chase by this fall, according to a company spokesperson.
The location, at 8500 Connecticut Ave., would be for pick-up orders placed online, according to Giant Food spokesman Jamie Miller. Miller said the Peapod by Giant will open in late summer or early fall.
The facility will be built in the Chevy Chase Lake Sector, where the Montgomery County Council is currently weighing a series of significant zoning changes. Developer Chevy Chase Land Company hopes to build a mixed-use town center across the street from the site and the Planning Board approved a Sector Plan that would rezone the 8500 Connecticut Ave. property to allow for a 35-foot-tall residential and retail development and a 70-foot one after the Chevy Chase Lake Purple Line station is assured.
“The relatively small size of this property limits its potential redevelopment as a stand-alone project. However, its location creates opportunities for redevelopment, as part of an assemblage of properties. To encourage this, the Plan recommends rezoning to match the shopping center’s height and density. If this property is ever assembled with others, as part of a unified development, the number of curb cuts along Connecticut Avenue, between Manor Road and Chevy Chase Lake Drive, should be reduced,” according to the Sector Plan.
A gas station and grocery pick-up site seems to contradict the more urban and transit-friendly feeling developers and the Planning Board seek for Chevy Chase Lake.
Miller said it will be a small facility, “where customers can place their online orders in the morning or while at work, then come pick the orders up on the way home.
“We’ve identified a demand for the service at that location,” Miller said. “We feel that this is going to be a growing part of the grocery business and a great convenience.”
Giant Food and Peapod opened a similar location in April in Clarksville and Columbia, both in Howard County.
“Our mission at Peapod is to save our customers time and money — and for many busy families, especially moms, who are always on the go, a quick stop at our pick-up location on the way home is the most convenient option,” Peapod President Andrew Parkinson said in the press release announcing the Howard County openings. “Peapod Pick-Up is fast and easy. Peapod associates greet you at your car, collect your coupons and load your groceries into your vehicle for you — all within five minutes. There’s no need for you to even get out of your car.”
There has been pronounced opposition to the proposed Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan, but the major developer in the mix is hoping to show there is also community support.
The Chevy Chase Land Company, which wants to convert the existing strip shopping center near Chevy Chase Lake Drive into a mixed-use town center, held a happy hour event on Wednesday for its Friends of Chevy Chase Lake group.
There were supporters and many residents who had questions about specific parts of the plan. Land Company Vice President of Public Affairs Miti Figueredo and President and CEO David Smith answered questions about a planned new north to south road, the fate of the Chevy Chase Supermarket during construction and the status of the Purple Line.
Many who expressed their support for the project during a County Council public hearing in March did so on the basis that the new development would make sense around a planned Purple Line station just north of the Land Company’s existing 8401 Connecticut building.
Bonnie Wicklund, who lives in the 8101 Connecticut Condominiums, said she supports the development. Her main want is the Purple Line station.
“We have everything but a post office. The only thing that this area really lacks is easy access to the Metro so that we can get on a train, make a change or two without driving, without getting into a car,” Wicklund said. “As for the development, I like to walk. I walk all over Chevy Chase and to the Chevy Chase Supermarket. I would love to have more restaurants to choose from and more shops.”
Residents are against the Chevy Chase Land Company’s proposal for a 150-foot building on Connecticut Avenue as part of the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan before the County Council.
The Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee, a group of more than 20 Chevy Chase civic and neighborhood organizations, has suggested a 90- or 120-foot height limit for the building. It would be on the other side of the existing Capital Crescent Trail from the company’s 8401 Connecticut office building.
Last week, the developer again laid out the reasons it thinks the 150 feet number is appropriate.
As the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan has moved from the Planning Board to the Council, we’ve heard questions about the recommended 150 foot height limit for one of the buildings in the plan area. Some community members have expressed concern that this height limit is excessive, and that the building should be several stories shorter, even though it would be immediately adjacent to the future Purple Line station and to an existing 150 foot tall building. Neither building would abut a residential neighborhood.
We take community concerns very seriously and have made significant changes to our redevelopment plans in response to feedback. But we also believe that this building height is appropriate in the larger context of our design, for several reasons:
- The additional height creates the opportunity for more open space in the project
- The additional units available in a taller building are necessary to offset the high cost of underground parking, which is essential to creating a walkable, pedestrian friendly environment
- As this article points out, a slightly taller building can be more elegantly designed, and ultimately more aesthetically pleasing, than a shorter, blockier building
- The visual impact from the street of an additional 2-3 stories is minimal
The Council hasn’t yet made a final decision on the Sector Plan, so we don’t know what the height limits will be. But rather than focus primarily on the height of one building, we hope to have constructive conversations about the environmental and community benefits to be gained from the redevelopment of an old, asphalt-heavy strip center into a lively, beautiful and transit-oriented community.
The next Council Planning Committee worksession on Chevy Chase Lake is expected in June. Until then, the Chevy Chase Land Company will try to earn community support for their proposal to redevelop the strip shopping centers there into mixed-use buildings around a town green.
On May 15, the company is hosting a Summer Kickoff Happy Hour where it will present project renderings and its vision for a transit-oriented community.
Rendering via Chevy Chase Land Company
The man challenging two Town of Chevy Chase Council incumbents didn’t hold back at a candidate’s forum on Thursday, saying he doesn’t think the Council has done enough to stop the Purple Line or stem surrounding development.
John Bickerman, a professional mediator, said the Town’s current leadership has been ineffective at influencing development at nearby Chevy Chase Lake and in downtown Bethesda. He said he would take a more agressive approach, perhaps by hiring a political consultant to lobby against the Purple Line.
Mayor Pat Burda and treasurer Linna Barnes are seeking reelection on May 7.
“If you want to get it done, you have to organize. You have to tell them, if you don’t support us, we’re going to find a way to defeat you,” Bickerman said, referring to developers and county and state officials in favor of the Purple Line.
“I’ll take a bet with you right now,” Bickerman told Burda.
“You don’t have the [County Council] votes on Chevy Chase Lake,” Bickerman said. “You’re not going to win this issue and it’s because you haven’t been effective.”
One of the last remaining signs of last month’s major water main break in Chevy Chase has been repaired, as Chevy Chase Lake Drive has been reopened.
The March 18 break of the main transmission line sent water shooting 30 feet high at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Chevy Chase Lake Drive, causing a downed power line, downed trees and torn up asphalt along the two-lane road.
WSSC had Connecticut Avenue fully reopened by the end of that week and mandatory water restrictions were called off by that weekend. But the repairs of Chevy Chase Lake Drive left some headaches for residents of HOC housing, workers at the 8401 Connecticut Avenue office building and customers of businesses there.
The Chevy Chase Land Company which owns the 8401 Connecticut building and has its headquarters there, asked tenants to park in the parking lot behind the nearby shopping center. Customers and visitors were allowed to park for free at the surface lot at 8401.
That road has been completely repaved with new yellow lane markings. The reconstruction of the sidewalk on the south side of the road is complete.
WSSC spokesperson I.J. Hudson said some tree planting and stream bank restoration work remains. WSSC is responsible for repairing roads, trees and sidewalks damaged by water main breaks.
Some photos via WSSC
Councilman Marc Elrich (D-At large) today criticized the Planning Board’s Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan recommendation, saying it was too focused on creating density around a planned Purple Line station instead of addressing concerns of the existing community
Elrich also dismissed traffic studies the Planning Department used to show the recommended 790,000 square feet of pre-Purple Line development would not significantly affect the area’s already failing intersections. Planners say the vast majority of traffic in the area comes from thru-traffic from commuters on Connecticut Avenue, and they made “aggressive” projections of how many residents in the Plan area would use the Purple Line.
“The purpose of planning is not to provide riders for transit systems,” Elrich said. “The purpose of planning, I thought, was to provide livable communities.”
Elrich and the Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee must wade through a number of issues outlined in an hour-and-a-half discussion during this afternoon’s first Chevy Chase Lake worksession.
Elrich made it clear he’s against many of the density recommendations by the Planning Board, but discussions still remain on traffic, how the Plan would proceed with the uncertainty surrounding the Purple Line and the Planning Board’s recommendation for separate zoning processes before and after the Purple Line.
Councilwoman and Committee Chair Nancy Floreen (D-At large) raised legal concerns about approving post-Purple Line phasing that would likely go into effect under a new Council in the next term.
The much talked about issues regarding two specific developments — the Newdale Mews apartments and a new high-rise on Connecticut Avenue next to the planned Purple Line station — weren’t discussed.
Floreen advised a vocal contingent or residents who are against some aspects of the development that the Council’s job is to shape the Sector Plan in general.
Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) sat in on the worksession and suggested the use of the words “town center” in Planning Department recommendations put the community, used to single-family neighborhoods and a 1960′s-era strip shopping mall, on edge.
The next worksession on the Plan will happen in June.
Photo via Montgomery County Planning Department
CORRECTION 11:20 a.m. This story has been corrected to reflect the fact that about half of the testimonies given at last night’s Council public hearing were against aspects of the Planning Board-recommended Sector Plan, not “most.”
The rest were given by development companies or associated consultants in support of controversial aspects of the Plan or others associated with groups that expressed support of the Plan in general.
About half of the 37 people who testified on Tuesday night at the Montgomery County Council’s public hearing on the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan were residents against specific aspects of Planning Board recommended development.
Representatives from the Chevy Chase Land Company explained why they want a 150-foot tall building on Connecticut Avenue instead of a 90- or 120-foot compromise suggested by residents fearful of added traffic. And, in his first recent comments in a public setting, Newdale Mews apartment owner Rob Bindeman said his proposed revamping of Newdale would help, not hurt, the community.
“I’m not here to destroy a neighborhood, I’m here to save one,” Bindeman told Council members, some who have toured the homes of nearby neighbors who oppose the Planning Board’s recommendation to allow new, 45-foot high Newdale Mews apartments before the Purple Line is built and 55-foot high ones after the light rail is certain.
Bindeman has argued his desire to rebuild has nothing to do with the Purple Line, but instead the age and failing infrastructure of his buildings. He said his new apartments would remain some of the area’s most affordable and three planned buildings would be put far enough away and blocked by a new green buffer from the back of homes on Lynwood Place.
Residents in the Chevy Chase Hills neighborhood, many who waved sheets of paper reading “Dont Flood The Lake” during testimony opposing the Newdale Mews recommendations, argue the Planning Board should have agreed with Planning Staff’s recommendation to cap Newdale Mews redevelopment at 45 feet after the status of the Purple Line is certain.
“It’s a compromise upon a compromise upon a compromise and it favors developers over the residential community,” said Bill Sandmeyer, representing the Chevy Chase Recreation Association. “Redevelopment must respect our existing residential communities.”
A full house is expected tonight in Rockville for the County Council’s public hearing on the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan.
The proposal would allow two phases of residential and commercial development around Connecticut Avenue and the planned site of a Purple Line light rail station at Chevy Chase Lake Drive.
A large coalition of residents and local political leaders have identified three major issues with the Planning Board’s recommended Plan: Approval for a 150-foot building from the Chevy Chase Land Company next to the existing 8401 Connecticut office building, phasing and heights for the Newdale Mews apartments and the concept of separate pre- and post-Purple Line sectional map amendments.
While the Land Company’s plans for building up its existing Chevy Chase Lake shopping center will be a focus of testimony tonight, so will the particularly divisive issue of Newdale Mews.
Chevy Chase Hills residents with homes backing up to the existing Newdale Mews apartments say the apartment owner should only be allowed to build higher after the Purple Line is certain. Planning Staff agreed, but a reversal from the Planning Board in its final recommendations has spurred lobbying efforts by both sides.
The Public Hearing will begin at 7:30 p.m. and include oral testimony from up to 30 residents, developers, Planning Department representatives and others.
It’s not expected that Council members, who will have final say on the Plan, will say much about their feelings on the issues tonight. That will likely come in the first Planning Committee worksession on the Plan, scheduled for Monday, March 18 at 2 p.m.
The hearing will be televised live on County Cable Montgomery (Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon).
Just west of Connecticut Avenue, tucked in along a golf course and the Capital Crescent Trail, is a neighborhood of single family homes and an aging apartment complex called Newdale Mews that is perhaps the most controversial issue in the plan to redevelop Chevy Chase Lake.
As the County Council prepares for a March 5 public hearing on the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan, a set of zoning changes in which the Planning Board approved a 45-foot height for Newdale Mews apartments before the Purple Line light rail is built and a 55-foot height if it is built, the residents of the Chevy Chase Hills neighborhood say they have been railroaded by a planning process they feel was too heavily weighted in the favor of developers.
Neighbors, especially those whose homes on Lynwood Place back up to Newdale Mews, say the county shouldn’t allow the apartments (currently 35 feet) to be built to 45 feet if the above ground Purple Line is never built just south of the property. The Planning Board differed with the recommendation of Planning Department Staff. Staff said a height increase shouldn’t be allowed until the Purple Line (which could compromise the three-story apartments) was built.
“There have been times when you think, ‘I don’t know if this process is totally fair,’” neighbor Bill Buchanan said. “We’ve talked about just saying, ‘Look, forget it.’ People assume we’re all NIMBYs, which is crazy. This is not a never-build thing, this is a build sensibly thing.”
Rob Bindeman, owner of the apartments, says the desire to rebuild the apartments is fueled solely by structural problems, including a failing floor joist in one of the buildings. He also said the fear that the taller apartments would loom over backyards and homes is not justified.
A Citizens Advisory Board on Tuesday night chose not to take a side on the controversial aspects of Chevy Chase Lake development, but presentations by one developer and a group of residents served as a potential preview of arguments the County Council will hear when the issue goes before it in a public hearing on March 5.
The Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee, represented by Chevy Chase Village Board Chair Pat Baptiste and Town of Chevy Chase Mayor Pat Burda, said their main qualms with the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan recommended by the Planning Board are in three areas:
1. The Planning Board-approved 150-foot height for a building adjacent to the existing 150-foot office building at 8401 Connecticut Avenue. Burda said the building, roughly at the site of the existing TW Perry store and part of the Chevy Chase Land Company’s development proposal, could be lowered to coincide with the planning notion of stepping down development from the highest point. Burda said “it’s a puzzle,” as to how traffic wouldn’t be adversely affected by the density, despite Planning Staff’s conclusion that there won’t be that much traffic added to the area’s two already failing intersections. (Chevy Chase Lake planner Elza Hisel-McCoy said earlier that 80 to 90 percent of the traffic in the area comes from school thru-traffic).
Steve Robins, a land-use attorney representing the Land Company, said it would not be economically viable to put the density farther away from Connecticut Avenue and would not be fair to nearby single family home residents to put the density elsewhere on the Land Company’s property, which includes the aging strip shopping centers on either side of Connecticut Avenue between Chevy Chase Lake Drive and Manor Road.
The Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board will discuss the controversial Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan, get a crime update from MCP Bethesda District commander Capt. Dave Falcinelli and a presentation from the Coalition for Smarter Growth when it meets Tuesday night.
The advisory board is made up of residents from Bethesda, Chevy Chase, North Bethesda, Potomac, Rockville and other areas. The Board issues advisory letters to county policymakers on a variety of issues including land use, which could make its discussion of Chevy Chase Lake particularly interesting.
A coalition of residents, many in a group known as the Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee, oppose some of the density and height recommendations made by the Montgomery County Planning Board for redevelopment of strip shopping centers in Chevy Chase Lake. Many against the Planning Board recommendations made their case to Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) at a town hall meeting last month.
Berliner and the rest of the Council will hear from all parties at a public hearing set for 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, then decide how the final Sector Plan should look. The Advisory Board’s discussion might lead to another opinion on the issue.
Falcinelli will also present, as well as representatives from the Coalition for Smarter Growth, a D.C.-based nonprofit joining the push for transportation funding to help build transit projects such as the Purple Line light rail.
The Advisory Board meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane) and is open to all.
Image via Montgomery County Planning Department
County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) last week told a group of residents against development plans at Chevy Chase Lake he was undecided on the building height and density issues many felt went unheard at the County Planning Board.
Berliner and the rest of the Council must give the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan final approval, a process that includes a public hearing on March 5.
In this video from Berliner’s town hall meeting last week in Bethesda, he urges those against the Planning Board’s recommendations to let other council members know their concerns.
One resident said the Planning Board’s recommendations for taller building heights and faster phasing than what Planning Staff proposed was “suspicious.”
“I get that you were bitterly disappointed with respect to how they did their business,” Berliner said, “and would just say to you, now watch how we do our business.”
Video from MyMCMedia
Bethesda County Councilman Roger Berliner (D) told residents he’s undecided on Chevy Chase Lake development, he’ll pursue whatever option necessary to ensure land for a new elementary school in White Flint and he’s pessimistic about preventing Pepco from approval for a significant rate hike later this year.
In a hour-and-a-half town hall-style meeting on Wednesday in Bethesda, Berliner also discussed two pieces of tree protection legislation before the Council, the county’s zoning ordinance rewrite and hinted at taking on County Executive Isiah Leggett’s recommendation to delay funding for the Bethesda Metro South Entrance.
The first and most substantial discussion focused on the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan, which last week was sent to the County Council for final review. The Council will hold its public hearing on the Plan on March 5. It would allow for significant mixed-use development around a prospective Purple Line light rail station on Connecticut Avenue.
All those who spoke about the plan were residents against the height and density recommendations of the Planning Board, which in some cases approved taller buildings than recommended by Planning Department Staff.
“They wholesale ignored and threw out Staff density recommendations,” said one resident who attended the Planning Board worksession in question. “It’s particularly insulting for the community members who were basically ignored. …Quite frankly, it’s a little suspicious.”
The Montgomery County Council announced today that its public hearing on the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan is set for 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5.
The Council received the Sector Plan on Friday from the County Planning Board, which since September has been hashing out guidelines for building heights, densities and other details of the mixed-use commercial and residential development planned for both sides of Connecticut Avenue between Chevy Chase Lake Drive and Manor Road.
Differences remain between County Planning Staff, the Board and residents, specifically on building height limits. Members of the Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee have said they will likely protest some of the Board-approved building heights during the public hearing.
In a letter to County Council President Nancy Navarro (D-East County), Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier said the Sector Plan expands access to transportation alternatives in one of the heaviest areas of car traffic in the county.
Carrier also labeled the Plan’s two-step implementation process, which would require the planned Chevy Chase Lake Purple Line station to be built before some development, an “innovative staging framework.”
“While the Staff Draft recommended moderate heights and densities for the Town Center, the majority of the Planning Board had a vision for the plan area with significantly greater heights and densities, both before and after the Purple Line,” Carrier wrote. “The majority of the Board considered it particularly important to take full advantage ofthe anticipated arrival ofthe Purple Line by intensifying development in the Town Center.”
Images via Montgomery County Planning Department
The Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday will hold its final worksession for the controversial Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan. And the developer in the center of it has a new point person on the project.
The Chevy Chase Land Company, which hopes to rebuild the strip malls on both sides of Connecticut Avenue between Chevy Chase Lake Drive and Manor Road into a mixed-use residential area, has hired Miti Figueredo to replace Lisa Fadden as its vice president for Public Affairs.
Figueredo was most recently the East County Regional Services Center Director in the office of County Executive Isiah Leggett. She’ll take over for Fadden, who community representatives against some aspects of the proposed development said helped smooth over tensions with a series of community meetings.
Still, issues remain.
The Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee, a group of community activists wary of the potential for increased traffic, is against the height recommendations Planning Department staff has recommended so far.
Members of the group have said they will go before the County Council to protest the Planning Board’s approval of a 150-foot height limit for a building next to the proposed purple line station at Chevy Chase Lake. The group asked for a 90-foot height limit.
The worksession on Thursday will be the last before the final Planning Board review scheduled for Jan. 17. If approved, the Sector Plan would then go on to the County Council for final approval.
The Land Company says it hopes Figueredo’s experience in county government can help it in the Sector Plan process. Prior to the East County post, Figueredo worked as an aide to Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) and as chief of staff to Council President Nancy Navarro (D-East County).
“We are very happy Miti will be part of our leadership team,” Chevy Chase Land Company President David Smith said in a prepared release. “Her background in federal and local government and community relations will be an asset to us, especially as we move forward with the Chevy Chase Lake project.”
“I am thrilled to be working with the Land Company’s management team on issues I care about so deeply,” Figueredo said. “I look forward to continued collaboration with residents to ensure the Chevy Chase Lake project will be a beautiful and vibrant community gathering place for many years to come.”