Saturday, September 29, 2007

Design Review Committee to Discuss Glebe/Pershing Redevelopment

Redevelopment of the commercial space at the intersection of N. Pershing Drive and N. Glebe Road will take another step as representatives of Georgetown Strategic Capital meet with the Design Review Committee on Wednesday evening, Oct. 3.

“I don’t expect to see any plans yet,” said Rebeccah Ballo, a preservation planner in the county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development. She expects it to be more of a “discussion” about land use, transportation and other topics, as well as a preliminary discussion of a submissions deadline for the upcoming year.

“I don’t think anything is on paper yet as to actual proposed buildings,” she said.

The HALRB discussed the development briefly in July. (Click here to see the original story and the clarification.)

Although the general plan for the space is to leave the buildings on the east side of Glebe Road (the side with the Post Office) untouched, Georgetown Strategic has not figured out what will happen with the west side, said Bob Moore, a principal partner with the firm. The plans depend greatly on what the county allows.

Everything is still on the table including razing the CVS and Glebe Market buildings and replacing them with four-storey buildings of mixed retail and living space, Mr. Moore said.

“That’s all part of the discussion,” he said. Everything is still so up-in-the-air that Wednesday’s DRC meeting might just be the first and last time his company brings the plans to the county, he said, joking.

Mr. Moore said for a major change on the west side to work, underground parking will be a necessity. However, he said they will start on Wednesday by looking at the ground floors of the buildings, especially looking at surface-level parking and transportation, “the access and egress” as he called it.

He said companies like CVS require surface parking as people will not park in a basement to run in quickly to shop. One idea moves the CVS into the space of the Glebe Market while the CVS corner gets renovated.

“[We’re] trying to work out all the logistics of the ground floor,” he said.

(County staff has said that the Glebe Market will be shutting its doors by the end of next year, or earlier.)

The Design Review Committee is a part of the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board, which oversees the historic sections of the Buckingham neighborhood, including the retail buildings on all four corners.

According to the county’s web site, The DRC is made up of professional architects who review the appropriateness of changes. The property is owned by Jenco group and its partners and investors.

“I don’t know what kinds of discussions they’ve [Georgetown Capital has] been having with the planners” and other boards in the county, said Ms. Ballo.

She called the county review board process a “big sieve.” A developer pushes an idea through all the different holes—the Site Plan Review Committee, the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board—at the same time to see what comes through the other side.

Mr. Moore said he does not see interference between his ideas and the renovation that the county has underway for the streetscape of that corner.

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