Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thoughts on the Silver Spring Transit Center

It has been under construction for years and was supposed to open in 2009.  I expected it to be finished soon after I moved to the area, instead it is still under construction and uncertainty abounds about its future.

I saw an article today in the WaPo "Metro could walk away from taking over Silver Spring Transit Center."  Apparently, Metro could refuse to take over the transit center if they don't agree that whatever repairs are made are good enough.  It sounds like Foulger-Pratt doesn't have a plan yet about how to fix it.

How about this idea... If the transit center is unrepairable, what if the land where it is built (prime real estate adjacent to the metro station) is put up for bids for privately funded projects?  Let a developer build a big condo building on that site with the requirement that the transit center be included on the first three floors of that building.  That way perhaps a different private developer would build the whole thing without charging the country taxpayers, and we would finally get a transit center.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Construction Update: The Exchange at Wheaton Station

Safeway Building, February 2013
Wondering about that huge building going up at Georgia Ave & Reedie, directly next to the Wheaton metro station? It is "The Exchange at Wheaton Station," planned to open in the summer of 2013!

Safeway Building, September 2012
It is a 486-Unit, 17-Story Apartment over Retail Tower being built by Foulger-Pratt. Inside it on ground level will be a large Safeway grocery store, SunTrust bank, Bergman’s drycleaner, and Starbucks coffee shop. There will be a parking garage for shoppers underground & a garage for residents above the stores, & the building is should even be LEED Certified!

Since my first trip to Wheaton last winter this space has been a large gaping hole in the ground.  I wasn't sure what the new building was replacing, but some research showed me that there used to be a "Zombie Safeway" there.  Here is a photo retrospective of that store's progress from functioning to closed to demolished.

I'm glad the new Safeway will be an urban building design!  That will be so much better than the old car-centric design.
"Ashes to Ashes, Dirt to Dirt" (from here), Safeway Post-Demolition, Spring 2012
The closed, space wasting, car-centric Wheaton Safeway in January 2010 (picture from here).

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Picking up Trash is Fun and Rewarding: A Trip to Wheaton Regional Park

A bag of trash collected in the park
A bag of trash collected in the park
On a trip to Wheaton Regional Park last weekend, two of us picked up 3 nice plastic bags of trash.  It felt very good to make a difference in the landscape.

Motivations: keep the place clean so it stays clean (people are less likely to drop litter in a litter-free environment) & prevent trash from flowing into our streams, rivers, and eventually making its way to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Trash free view of Wheaton Regional Park
Trash free view of Wheaton Regional Park
Plus, it feels really good to help out nature in this way!  Try it, you'll like it! 

It is easy to retrieve a plastic bag that is hanging off of a tree or bush and fill it with bottles, cans, and other plastic bags as one walks around outside.  The amount of plastic bag waste is amazing, especially given the Montgomery County plastic bag fee. I can't even imagine the quantity of plastic bag waste there must have been flying around our parks before that fee!

I walked to the metro several times in the last week due to a flat bike tire, and also picked up a bag of recyclables en route yesterday.

Stormwater catchment system near train depot in Wheaton Regional Park
Stormwater catchment system near train depot in Wheaton Regional Park