MacArthur Boulevard Safeway Expansion Plans Prompt Citizens' Task Force
There are plans to redevelop the land around as well as the Safeway on MacArthurBoulevard. It is a big project and has residents in the Palisades neighborhood concerned about its impact.
The following report is an excerpt from the latest Palisades Citizens Association newsletter and outlines the proposed changes:
Outgoing Palisades Citizens Association President Bill Slover announced that, following last month’s contentious meeting at which Safeway and its proposed development partner, Duball LLC, announced plans for a five-story combined retail outlet and condominium on the site of the current grocery store, the PCA would establish a task force to review the proposal and formulate a neighbor- hood response.
More than 140 members of the Palisades community attended the PCA’s May general membership meeting, where developer Marc Dubick of Duball LLC and representatives of Safeway outlined their plans for more than tripling the size of the current Safeway store, in the process digging out two levels of underground parking and building about 100 condominiums over the new store. Dubick explained that the resulting structure would occupy almost all of the current Safeway and parking lot and would be five stories or approximately 65 feet tall.
Dubick and Safeway representatives added the following details:
•The redeveloped Safeway store will be below grade, but shoppers won’t really notice because the property is on a slight hill. Shoppers will not need to go down an escalator or stairs. •Four single family homes will be built on 48th Place (literally on top of the store) to hide the view of Safeway for people living on V St. •The development will not include the CVS parking lot. •There will be four stories of housing units (around 100) built on top of the store for a total of five stories. No other retail or other functions for the development are contemplated. •Dubick pointed out that they seek a “European” or “Dutch” look to the development. • All vehicular traffic will use a single entrance on U St. That is where the entrance to the parking garage will be, as well as the loading dock for Safeway’s deliveries. •There will be two levels of parking. The first level will be for Safeway shoppers and will have approx. 150 spaces. (There are currently less than 90 in the surface parking lot.) The second level will be resident parking. •The building will be LEED certified; Safeway will compost its biodegradable refuse. The project will take approximately 18 months to build. This will include 12 months of outside disruptions followed by six months of interior work.
Safeway and the developer seek to get D.C. approval for this massive structure through a provision of the D.C. Zoning Code for “Planned Unit Developments.”
If they built the project “matter of right” based on actual zoning rules, there would be no required discussion with the community, and they would be limited to the actual zoning for the real estate the store and parking lot sit on. A PUD basically means that the benefits are so compelling that the D.C. government is prepared to waive regular zoning limitations. This gives a developer an incredible amount of flexibility, in exchange for a significant public benefit. This is how hospitals, for example, are some- times zoned. Securing a PUD zoning decision will take a “minimum of eight months,” according to D.C.’s Office of Planning. A PUD allows for “high quality developments that provide public benefits” for the immediate neighborhood, our ward or the District. These benefits and amenities must be developed following “comprehensive public review.”