- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2003

District planning officials and residents of the city's northwest corridor yesterday pored over plans to refurbish a key stretch of Wisconsin Avenue with improved retail, parking and housing.
Andy Altman, director of the D.C. Office of Planning, and Robert Collins, a revitalization planner for the city, outlined potential changes to development along a stretch of Wisconsin Avenue between Rodman Street and Western Avenue in Northwest.
The plans came after a series of design workshops with architects and between 40 and 60 residents over the past several weeks.
"The plan here is simple: to make Wisconsin Avenue one of the great corridors of the city," Mr. Altman said.
Plans to redevelop Wisconsin Avenue began in June after residents asked the D.C. Office of Planning to improve the look and feel of the corridor. A large redevelopment was not requested. Rather, planners and residents convened to determine how some retail areas can be reconfigured to allow people to park their cars once and visit numerous sites. Plans for new streetscapes also are being considered.
"There will be increased opportunities for retail, but what we're essentially trying to do is enhance the retail already there," Mr. Altman said.
Plans outlined yesterday included the reconfiguration of the Safeway site at Wisconsin Avenue and Ellicott Street to make the supermarket more visible, while creating a public parking plaza.
"This area is a little bit dysfunctional because of the way it grew organically," Mr. Collins said.
Attracting new retail is not necessarily a priority planners said there is enough retail to support the corridor now but the District plans to finalize a code outlining strict rules to help developers understand what residents are looking for. This potentially would speed up the development approval process, making it easier and less expensive for developers to build, planners said. Similar approaches have been used in Arlington and Montgomery counties.
"We're really trying to capture what is unique about the corridor," said Heather Knouse of Street Works, a development consulting firm working with planners and residents on the project. "It hasn't lived up to its potential, but it really could."
Housing will play a significant role in the redevelopment, mainly because of D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams' plan to attract 100,000 new residents to the city. Planners said there is a strong impetus to redevelop areas such as Wisconsin Avenue, because they often compete with suburban Maryland for residents and developers.
The stretch of Wisconsin Avenue between Brandywine and Garrison streets will continue to be a dense residential area, with town houses, multifamily units and apartments, planners said.
The area also might see some new development related to the Homeland Security Department. The department recently located its headquarters at the Naval Security Station on Nebraska Avenue, just a few blocks west of the Wisconsin Avenue corridor. Many real estate analysts said government contractors could scramble for any office space available in the neighborhood.

In other news
Atlantic Realty Cos. bought Sunset Business Park in Herndon for $14.5 million, or $120.83 per square foot. The park is a 19-acre property with four buildings totaling 120,000 square feet. Atlantic will spend about $15 million to convert the buildings into flex condominiums with retail stores.
Terrabrook, developer of Reston Town Center, sold the five-acre Village Commons retail site on Sunset Hills Road in Reston to A. J. Dwoskin & Associates for $6.2 million.
Tim Lemke can be reached at tlemke@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-4836.

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