Update: Metro Moves One Step Closer To The Development Of The “Brookland Green”

by Astrid on March 15, 2013

Brookland Green Fall 2012

Brookland Green Fall 2012

On Tuesday we shared with you that we got word about the space east of the Brookland / CUA Metro station including the “Brookland Green” being explored for developed. Unfortunately we got  more details, this time from a presentation put together by the Planning, Program Development and Real Estate Committee of WMATA. The purpose of the presentation was to propose to the real estate committee that Metro solicit development agreements for properties they own around various metro sites. According to an article in the City Paper, the real estate committee approved the proposal unanimousely  and now it is headed to the full WMATA board. If things move quickly, WMATA could be fielding responses from developers by the end of the year.

Here is a slide that shows what Metro stops they would like developed:WMATA Development sites

Here is a birds-eye view of the Brookland area proposed for development:WMATA property around Bookland  CUA

As you can see the “Brookland Green”, the only public green space with mature trees remaining in that part of Brookland, is definitely included in this proposed plan. If I can speak for myself for a moment, I hope that the Brookland community will rise as a united force to prevent this from happening. A green space like this is priceless and can not be replaced once destroyed. It is unrealistic to think that we could push back against the entire development, nor do I want to, after all the location is adjacent to an urban subway station, but I believe we need to take a stand on saving the wonderful mature trees and the green space they are located on.

Here is a call to action. WANTED: A Brooklander(s) who has (have) the time and passion to take on the lead on guiding the community through the fight to preserve the “Brookland Green”. Are you with us? We will keep you updated as this development progresses.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Cara March 15, 2013 at 10:17 am

I would hate to see this little are developed. I have been supportive of the other development around the metro, and I think the location of it makes sense. This small green area is a peaceful little park (maybe it could formally become a park with benches etc?) and it would seem out of place to have it developed.
Please keep us updated and let us know what we can do to help.

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Keon March 15, 2013 at 11:36 am

I need to see what kind of designs are pitched on this. I’m all for developing the lot immediately next to the Michigan Ave. bridge and if the bus bays are reconfigured/condensed then they can probably combine it with the small pick up lot and get another building in there, which could hopefully leave most of the green as-is.

If done right, it could be a nice add for the neighborhood.

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Sarah March 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm

I respectfully disagree.

Dense development near the Metro is essential to the future of Brookland. It is the right choice economically in that it will bring jobs and amenities and make the area around the neighborhood safer. Prohibiting development on that parcel takes away as much a 1/3 of the space available for development.

I love trees and green space as much as anyone – it is why I moved here, and I would fight tooth and nail to keep Brookland from becoming NoMA or Silver Spring. But development a block from the station doesn’t even come close to taking us in that direction. And it’s just not true that this is “the only open green space with mature trees remaining in that part of Brookland” The Catholic campus is right next to the Metro and has acres of space fitting that description. Overall, our neighborhood has more green space than almost any other place in D.C. with a Metro station.

The Green is lovely, but it’s just not the best use of space.

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Astrid March 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Hi Sarah,

Maybe I should have been more specific. When I said “open” I meant “public. I changed the post accordingly. And I am sorry that my comments came across to you as if I am anti development . I am not. But I think that the Brookland Green, which by my estimation covers maybe 1/4 of the marked area, is worth fighting for. Together the CUA development, 901 Monroe, and this WMATA development provide plenty of growth and employment opportunities. We do not have to give up a green space that hosts trees that took decades to grow. Trees are not the reason for crime, actually areas with a higher density of trees have a lower crime rate than neighborhoods that have less trees.
I also have the feeling, that the developments we are seeing now are just the beginning. I believe we need to stand our ground now for some compromise with the developers, so that we do miss our opportunity to be heard in the process.
It is a fact that there are very few publicly accessible green spaces in our neighborhood. Hundreds of new residents will move here who will not have the benefit of a yard like I do and I assume you do, but they will live in apartments with no or very little outdoor space like a balcony.
I truly believe that the “Brookland Green” is very valuable and that I hope it is going to be possible to strike a balance between development around our metro station and preserving the character of our beautiful neighborhood.

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Anne D. March 16, 2013 at 8:04 am

Hi Sarah,

You are correct. Catholic’s campus does have open green space and mature trees. It’s also private property from which residents can be ejected at any time. Yes, I know technically anything Metro owns is private property but this is defacto public space as it’s clearly in the transit vector to the subway station.

Regardless of that, after last summer do you really think we need to lose any more valuable green space to the heat sink of dense development? The plans that have been floated for developing this space push bus pickup and drop off out on to Monroe street, or God forbid, out on to 10th street. It’s unrealistic to think someone is going to pay inflated prices for a condo or apartment that overlooks a bus depot. Jamming apartments in that space just isn’t smart development, it’s development for development’s sake. I also don’t trust that WMATA will use any of the revenue to improve the Brookland station, home of the statistically most broken escalator in the system yet the the entrance *without* the canopy, so why I should I support them destroying something I value when I know I’ll get no benefit from it?

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Jen on Kearney March 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I agree with Cara and Keon. This would be a great place for a small park. Develop the parking lot and the empty space along the bridge, but keep the Green intact. We can have development AND green space. Look at Capitol Hill. There are small parks every few blocks. Brookland has a lot of trees, but most are on private property, and in reality, there are NOT that many green open spaces where people can congregate and kids can play. That makes no sense in a neighborhood like Brookland that is full of families.

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Gwynne March 15, 2013 at 3:19 pm

So is the bus stop/turnaround up for development, too?

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Astrid March 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Yes, of course the developer needs to incorporate drop off and bus areas somewhere, or negotiate with DDOT to create another area somewhere else. But according to the map the bus turnaround is included in the space to be developed.

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pwedz March 15, 2013 at 11:06 pm

hopefully Brookland/Woodridge citizens who take the bus to the metro will still be able to get off right next to the stop..

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Anne D. March 16, 2013 at 8:05 am

They’ve been talking for about 5 years about pushing all the bus traffic out to Monroe street, Gwynne. I know that will bode well for whatever goes in on the former Col. Brooks site.

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Curtis March 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Any good developer will keep that space to keep the neighborhood feel consistent. Big tree’s are a part of Brookland and that area NEEDS to be developed from a hard surface parking lot into something more productive and useful. I will certainly keep an eye on this and attend any of the meetings that they hold to ensure the developers hear the concerns.

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tony March 15, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Catholic is not an “open campus” and doesn’t count. the green is PUBLIC space. Public space open to every citizen is an important part of a community. It should also benefit all stakeholders. a balance is needed and can be traded for more height on other parts allowing the “green” to be a buffer to what most likely will be the ancillary services needed for the project. I notice most of the pro people tend to think that they have been smart enough to live far enough away that they don’t think it will affect them. Though where do you see all the new speed bumps and stop signs? in front of the prodevelopment folks homes. Wjho are the NIMBY’s.

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thm March 16, 2013 at 3:07 am

Perhaps one way to evaluate the value of the “Brookland Green” to the greater Brookland community is to think in personal terms. Of course we’re just coming out of winter now so there’s not much activity now, but instead let’s think over all of 2012: what was everyone’s best memory, in 2012, of the Brookland Green? I’m on the east end of Brookland, so to me it’s predominantly the space I walk through on the way to and from the Metro, but for those who are closer, let’s hear the stories of when we visited the Brookland Green, and not just because we were on our way to or from the Metro. Maybe some have pictures?

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James March 16, 2013 at 4:31 pm

This “don’t remove Brookland Green” rhetoric is flawed. There is certainly value in green space. Astrid, you are framing this discussion in a them (WMATA) vs. us (supporters of anti-development on the Brookland Green) context. Instead, you should frame it in a “let’s think how we can work together with WMATA to balance the need for green space and economic/physical development” context. Currently the Brookland Green is underutilized. There are no benches, vendors, ancillary amenities (that I’m aware of, forgive me if I’m mistaken I know the farmers market operates on the non-tree space). To really solidify it as a community amenity, we should work WITH WMATA, and help WMATA see (through research, surveys, case studies -hint: speak to ULI) that it will make the development of the non-Brookland Green space more valuable to have this (enhanced) green space. A reasonable, thoughtful opinion on the development at the Brookland metro station cannot be reached without speaking in the context of specific plans proposed by WMATA and their development partners. When we use absolutes in our rhetoric (ie this will always be a bad thing, and this will always be a good thing) we close off the creativity and open-mindedness that’s necessary to create solutions that benefit everyone. Let’s all be careful of the “rise up and fight” attitude. It makes people and organizations combative and breaks down communication.

Here is some creative food for thought: what would make you (Brooklanders and potential Brooklanders alike) more likely to use this Brookland Green? Maybe we should try to emulate other green spaces. Farragut Square is a good example of green space that is utilized to its full potential. There are vendors (food trucks and other vendors), benches, programmed concerts and events, artwork (statue). There are mature trees there too. The concert programming is coordinated through the Downtown BID (Business Improvement District). Perhaps we should organize a Brookland CID (Community Improvement District) – Mount Vernon Triangle has a CID, it incorporates and recognizes residential AND business interests). We could hold Movies on The Green, the way the NoMa BID does. The private development partner could generate revenue all while making their development project more desirable.

The big picture idea that I’m trying to get across is that the future of our neighborhood is too important to dig our heals in with one unresearched opinion or another, closing ourselves off to creative problem solving and communication. Our minds are valuable, let’s use them to usher in a better Brookland.

PS. Astrid, you have a very cool name. Is it Scandinavian?

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nathaniel March 17, 2013 at 10:49 am

I agree with James, for as much talk as I have heard in the neighborhood about preserving the brookland green, I rarely if ever see anyone actually using it.

However it should be considered that just because the entire site is to be developed that does not mean all of the land will be built on. If people work productively with the developers I am sure some of it could be preserved. I would emphasize the word productive, which means understanding that you won’t get everything you want and to acknowledge when the developers make concessions, not only demand more concessions.

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Shani March 19, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Just wanted to add a couple of things:
1) NoMA has outdoor moves for now- the area where the movies are held will be developed. Speaking of NoMA – they were not proactive, like we are trying to be – and guess what? They literally will have ZERO green space because no one thought to bake it into the development plans. Now that all the land is spoken for, the NoBA bid is asking people to fight to get park space. Check it out here:
http://www.nomabid.org/parks/
2) The term “Brookland Green” has been in use for a long time. Note the BNCA use of it as well. http://www.brooklandcivic.org/#/issues-activities/4541356857

Lastly, shouldn’t we make it clear to WMATA now that developer’s proposals that do not inlcude green space are unnacceptable, instead of waiting till wintertime and then start putting up a fight after the proposals are in?

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Matt March 19, 2013 at 9:49 am

I think this article is misleading. Calling it the “Brookland Green” is catchy, but very little of the space we’re talking about is “green.” Assuming we could divert busses to local stops, I would love to see the bus bay gone (or something built above it?). The “public” parking lot is really just parking for metro employees – how many of the cars there on any weekday have the vest on the dash? And the gravel/mud strip along michigan ave? The farmer’s market is the only positive use of that space I’ve seen. Which brings us to the last strip of trees, which we do need to preserve. But I would love to trade the bus bay, parking lot, and gravel lot for a responsible development that improves the green space to a state where people woule actually use it. I assume if we’re calling on Brookland “to rise as a united force” against the development plans, you’ve seen the proposals – Could you share them with us? I would hate to see the trees go, but I’ll withhold judgment on the development plans until I have a chance to look them over.

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Astrid March 19, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Hello,
Thank you all for your thoughts and comments. I feel I need to clarify a few things that might have been misunderstood or misinterpreted. And let me try to make it short:
- First of all, our primary goal is to inform and create awareness about topics that cover or impact Brookland. I do have opinions and do express them here and there, but those are subjective and we do not expect, that every reader agrees.
- I do support development in general, and in this case in particular. I thought I made it clear in the post: “It is unrealistic to think that we could push back against the entire development, nor do I want to, after all the location is adjacent to an urban subway station …….”
- The name “Brookland Green” only relates to the green space between 10th Street and the parking lot. So when I say that I would like the “Brookland Green” to be preserved, that and only that is what I mean.
- I have no interest, and it would not be smart, to ignite a “we against them” standpoint. I know very well that cooperation is much more effective than confrontation. But I do believe that it could be benefitial to generate awareness and maybe start the effort to articulate ideas and plans for the “Brookland Green”, before the neighborhood is presented with plans from developers. The idea is to be proactive and not reactive.
- I think it would be wonderful to add more “park” features like benches to the “Green”, but I have to disagree with the view that a green space without a bench, or without frequent specific usage like picnics, is therefore worth less. Many great points have been made in the previous comments about how valuable trees and green surfaces are especially in a growing urban environment.

I hope I was able to clear up a few aspects regarding my stands on development and green spaces. I am looking forward to a constructive and productive discussions amongst us Brooklanders and in due time with WMATA and/or the developers.

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Eric March 19, 2013 at 2:31 pm

If our neighborhood wants a great park near the Metro station, we should organize and lobby the city to buy land and develop a great park. Any other approach to this is probably naive. Look, I would be very, very happy if there could be a pleasant and safe green space near the Metro that is something more than a passive asset…but in my opinion, the so-called “Brookland Green” does not fit that bill in its current form. I also think (taxpayer-funded) Metro has a financial obligation to make the most of its assets, including land that isn’t useful for transit purposes. Maybe Brookland station is a place where private developers could hide a bus transfer lot below ground with buildings above, and finance a great park nearby (either on the “Green” or someplace even better).

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