Takoma residents oppose high rise apartment on Metro property

WASHINGTON — Takoma Park and Metro officials are battling over whether a planned apartment building near the Takoma Metro will be too tall.

Metro is working on a joint development agreement with developer EYA to build near the parking lot at the Takoma station. The designs for EYA call for an apartment about 72-feet high near Eastern Avenue on the border of Montgomery County and the District of Columbia.

“Washington D.C. wants to maintain a certain scale for its buildings that is different than, for instance, Manhattan. We don’t want huge buildings in our city,” says City of Takoma Park Councilmember Seth Grimes.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Sara Green also opposes the plan. She was at Metro headquarters on Thursday for a discussion before the Real Estate Committee.

“If you look at these buildings, this is downtown. This is an office, commercial area. You’re going to be hard pressed to find 70-foot buildings down here,” says Green.

“Our master plan calls for Takoma to have a village like feel. How can a building this tall, that’ll dwarf those around it, keep the village feel here?” she says.

Metro board members approved several amendments the Takoma Park City Council recommended. Metro says approval of the joint development agreement doesn’t mean the agency endorses any specific design. Metro insists the final look of the building is up to planners and developers.

“That process is the decision of the D.C. zoning commission. For us this is a business arrangement. It’s our job to provide opportunities for housing, retail and office space and get income for WMATA to reinvest into the system,” says Stan Wall, director of Planning and Real Estate for Metro.

Grimes and Green believe that Metro isn’t informally endorsing the 72-foot building, but now will turn their attention to the D.C. Zoning Commission. Both argue that residential buildings are not supposed to be more than 40-feet high, thus the plans for this apartment near the Takoma Metro violate the regulations.

Both are also concerned about the traffic impact on this project on Eastern Avenue and nearby streets during rush hour. Metro conducted a traffic impact study, but Grimes and Green feel the results are deeply flawed.

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