April 17, 2006


The WaPo story earlier this month about development on upper Wisconsin Ave. in DC stirred debate on the Tenleytown listserve. Folks are squaring off over the large-scale development, opposing slighly taller buildings, at sites such as the Babe's Billiards Cafe and Martens Volvo.
Count DC Bubble among the incredulous (majority?) who beleive that a few have stopped redevelopment on the forlorn strip. On the listserve, Tom Smith wrote:

"In the 30 years I have lived here, I don't ever remember so many empty storefronts on upper Wisc. Ave. It makes me worry about the small businesses that are still open. ... Much of the area needs a facelift. If somebody thinks what we have is attractive, then they should stand at the corner of Jennifer and Wisconsin and look south up the Wisc. Ave. corridor. It's hard to figure how an additional two stories could compromise a view that is dominated by the various towers near the old Hechingers. ... It seems like the rigidity of the groups cited in the Post article are encouraging even more empty storefronts and boarded up buildings."
Supporting the status quo, Sue Hemberger wrote:

"As a matter of right, the owners of the Babe's and Martens site could build mid-rise (50') condos or mixed use buildings and the neighbors would have no say in the matter. So, no -- neighborhood opposition is not what's preventing substantial re-development along upper Wisc. Ave. It's a few commercial landowners' desire/hope of building much more than they're legally entitled to build that accounts for why certain lots have been vacated but not yet redeveloped. In other words, what we're seeing is speculation and land-banking."

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