- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2001

A developer plans to build apartments and shops on a vacant lot in Takoma Park, one of several new projects slated for the neighborhood that straddles the border between the District and Montgomery County.

Between 35 and 48 apartments would be built along Cedar and Carroll streets NW, on the District's side of Takoma Park.

Developer Russell Katz, who is also an architect, said he has not finished designing the building.

He said it is not clear how large it would be, but he plans to put shops and possibly offices on its lower levels.

The building would help revive the blighted Carroll Street corridor, Mr. Katz said.

"This is going to be a chance to use a well-designed building to encourage new development," he said.

Other proposed projects in the District's section of Takoma Park include a condominium complex at Fourth Street and Blair Road NW, and a controversial plan to build 90 town houses near the Takoma Park Metrorail station.

On Maryland's side of Takoma Park, Montgomery College is planning a $90 million expansion of its satellite campus in the neighborhood.

Builders are coming to Takoma Park because it has a small-town flavor, with Victorian-style houses and family owned shops and restaurants, said community activist Brian Baker.

"It is just a very attractive place to live," said Mr. Baker, president of Plan Takoma Inc., a civic group that pushes for new development in the neighborhood.

Between 1990 and 2000, the population in Maryland's section of Takoma Park climbed from 16,700 to 17,299, according to census data provided by Montgomery County planners.

The D.C. Office of Planning did not return several telephone calls yesterday seeking information on population numbers in the District's section of Takoma Park. The agency has not posted the information on its Web site.

There is a market for new residential development in Takoma Park, according to Carol Cutini, a residential real-estate broker for Weichert Realtors.

Roughly 100 homes have been sold on the Maryland side alone this year, she said.

Most homes in Takoma Park sell for between $300,000 and $600,000, she said. "It is very difficult to get anything there for less than $200,000."

Like Mr. Katz's apartment building, the other Takoma Park projects are still in the planning stages.

Eakin/Youngentob Associates Inc., the Arlington firm that wants to build the town houses, is waiting for the District to complete a comprehensive plan for its section of Takoma Park. The plan is expected to be completed this summer, said Toby Millman, the firm's vice president of project development.

The plan for condominiums at Fourth Street and Blair Road NW, is also in the planning stages, according to D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty, a Ward 4 Democrat.

Mr. Millman said other developers may wait until his firm starts building its town houses before beginning their projects.

There is not wide support in the neighborhood for the projects.

Last month, the Montgomery County Planning Board approved the plans for the Montgomery College expansion, against the wishes of environmentalists who said the project will disrupt the nearby Jessup Blair Park.

And in the District, community activists have loudly opposed the town houses, saying the city did not give them a chance to give their input on the design of the buildings.

Sara Green, a member of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission that gives D.C. officials input on development proposals in Takoma Park, said residents will take a wait-and-see approach to the other projects.

"The developers have to work with the community. You can't shove something down a neighborhood's throat if they don't want it," she said.

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