Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Brookland Small Area Plan

They're Kidding Right?

I finally had a chance to sit down and look over the Brookland Small Area Plan put out by Metro. The BSAP, is the plan by the city to build up development around the Brookland Metro Station.

You can view the plan here.

When it comes to development, I'm fairly lassez faire. I mean, if investors want to pour millions of dollars into our neighborhood, that's a strong vote of confidence in our community. More shops, people and homes mean more reasons for people to visit Brookland and can help us all get a better return on our substantial investments in our homes, plus create some jobs for folks in the neighborhood. At least that's how I felt until I read the plan.

In short, the BSAP is the Britney Spears of development plans. This thing is a mess.

My initial toughts are:

The buildings proposed for the development plan physically sever the relationship of Brookland to Catholic University and the Basilica. The development around the metro station will be up to 7 stories high, or 70 feet (if not more), buildings proposed for both Monroe Street and adjacent to the Metro Tracks will create a wall that will destroy the historic sight lines that bind the community to CUA and its institutions.

While the BSAP discusses creation of green space, it fills in most of the open land around the Metro station and provides few specifics on what green spaces will be preserved, created or expanded.

The density of the plan appears to make no concession to the historical context of the neighborhood, which is know for its lush open spaces and large yards which were cornerstones development during the turn of the century when Brookland was being developed.

On the positive side there is discussion of expansion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail which would help create a new connection between Brookland the the rest of the city.

Development around the Metro station will help create opportunities for more people to use transit, which is good for the environment.

Smart development is more than welcome, and the ability to maximize the value of the land and still be compatible with the values and aesthetics of the neighborhood aren't mutually exclusive values.

While I don't think we should dismiss or fight all investment in Brookland, in fact we should seek it out and welcome it, I don't think the BSAP pays homage or respects the surrounding community.
I say bring on the development, but let's revisit the plan and bring it in line with the values and needs of Brooklanders!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good posting. I agree that the idea of 7 story mixed-use condos around CUA metro is very incongruous given the character of the rest of the neighborhood.