Minutes – May 12, 2011- Special Public Meeting – Walmart Proposal for Georgia & Missouri Ave., NW

Adopted In A Unanimous Show-Of-Hands Vote on October 24, 2011

 

The meeting began at about 7 pm at Emory Methodist Church, 6100 Georgia Avenue, NW, Chair Yvonne Jefferson (also ANC 4B08) presiding.  Also present were Commissioners 4B01 Sara Green, 4B02 Faith Wheeler, 4B03 Fred Grant, 4B04 Douglas Smith, 4B05 Brenda Speaks, 4B06 Gloria Palmer, and 4B09 Douglass Sloan.  No votes or actions were taken.

 

Adam Davis, of Foulger-Pratt, the site’s developer, Keith Morris, of Walmart, and Erwin Andres, of Gorove-Slade Associates, Inc., who conducted the traffic studies, spoke and answered questions, along with residents and Commissioners.

 

Some Questions & Responses

·         In response to concerns that only three out of ten of the DC Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) traffic data requests were included in the Large Tract Review submission, Mr. Andres and Mr. Davis said there was no firm scope of work, but a back-and-forth discussion with DDOT.  They are meeting with DDOT. Much of the data was collected and most is part of the appendix.  However, the appendix was not submitted as part of the Large Tract Review because the City did not ask for it.  Gorove-Slade studied eight intersections and DDOT asked that they study an additional four.  

 

·         Mr. Andres also said that Walmart tried to integrate the traffic concerns stated at community meetings and in discussions with DDOT into the proposal it submitted.  For example, there are no curb cuts on Georgia Avenue.  Vehicle access is on Peabody Street.  Trucks enter on Missouri Avenue. 

 

·         More street parking has been added on Peabody Street inside Walmart’s property.  In response to concerns about the width of the Peabody Street sidewalk and the width of the street, Mr. Davis said the sidewalk’s width will be unchanged and the width of Peabody Street will increase from 34 to 40 feet.  Controls at the crosswalk will force cars to slow down.

 

·         Mr. Davis said that Walmart’s strategy is to attract commuters and capture customers from traffic that is already using Georgia Avenue.

 

·         Mr. Morris said that Walmart will not use DC’s existing supermarket tax exemptions/incentives.

 

·         Mr. Morris said that the store’s response to union organizing will be governed by the National Labor Relations Board.  There are no plans to close a DC store if employees begin to organize.

 

·         In response to concern about asbestos and other environmental problems, Mr. Davis noted that the DC Department of the Environment will monitor the site.

 

·         There will be a 6-7 foot-tall wall with landscaping buffering the store from the adjoining Florian Cooperative Apartments.

 

Presentations (From Subcommittee Reports)

Richard Layman, Chair, Large Tract Review Subcommittee

 

 

Adopted Minutes – 5-12-11 – Page Two

 

·         The proposal does not use the site the way the Comprehensive Plan envisioned – as a mixed-used project.

 

·         The law governing the Large Tract Review process does not require an economic impact analysis as it should.  Had one been required, it would show a significant negative impact on area small businesses.  The city should ensure that there is a good mitigation package for small businesses.

 

·         Commercial sites are typically redeveloped every 20 years, so the 75-year lease Walmart plans is a poor plan for the area.

 

·         Walmart estimates it will attract 4,000 customers a day, but 6,000 to 8,000 per day is more realistic.   A shuttle from metro station(s) and home delivery will reduce the traffic impact.

 

T. A. Uqdah, Chair, Alternatives and Small Business Subcommittees

 

·         Foulger-Pratt is thanked for meeting with the Alternatives Subcommittee.  Foulger-Pratt executives explained that their business model is not to create a market for a project but to respond to existing demand.  Therefore, they are not considering  the entertainment complex that is proposed as an alternative project for the site.

 

·         It is worth keeping the site vacant to get it right.  One example is the DC Convention Center site which was vacant for 15 years before it was developed.

 

·         The Small Business subcommittee agrees with the Large Tract Review Subcommittee recommendation about the 75-year lease , the need for an economic impact study, and the need for a mitigation package for small businesses.

 

·         Walmart proposes including a small amount of space, less than 2,000 square-feet, for small and independent stores within the Walmart store.  These stores might have a very limited value to the community.

 

Commissioner 4B01 Sara Green, Member, Community Benefits Subcommittee

 

·         Walmart should sign an enforceable community benefits agreement.

 

·         The agreement should spell out the percentage of city residents to be hired for permanent positions and as contractors who will build the store and maintain it.  The agreement should also detail workforce training programs and the number of full-time jobs and benefits, among other employment-related issues.

 

·         Walmart should agree to pay to mitigate the transportation and traffic problems the store will create.  Walmart should also fund programs to mitigate the store’s impact on neighborhood businesses.

 

·         Walmart should contribute 3.5 percent of the store’s pretax profits to a fund for area nonprofit groups.  The fund should be distributed by a committee that includes neighborhood residents.

 

 

 

 

Adopted Minutes – May 12, 2011 – Page 3

 

Questionnaire Distributed By Commissioners Douglass Sloan and Douglas Smith

 

·         From February 14 through March 20, 2011, Commissioners Sloan and Smith collected responses to a five-question questionnaire from 210 people at the 6400 Piney Branch Road, NW Safeway and along Georgia Avenue.  Just over 64 percent said they strongly favor or favor the Ward 4 store and just over 26 percent said they are against it or strongly against it. 

 

·         Several speakers, including  Commissioner Speaks, Wanda Oates, of 4B05, and Baruti Jahi, of Shepherd Park, questioned the validity of the questionnaire.  Commissioner Speaks and a Brightwood resident said they did not know anything about it.  Ms. Oates said she has not found anyone in 4B05 who supports putting the Walmart on the site.  Mr. Jahi said he contacted a statistician who said that the questionnaire’s methodology was flawed.  Commissioner Sloan responded that the questionnaire was not intended to be a formal, scientific survey.

 

Comments

·         Commissioner Grant, of 4B03, said he walked his district with notices and it was hard to find residents who oppose the Walmart proposal.

 

·         Faith Williams, of Sisterspace,  a Ward 4 bookstore and arts center, said dealing with Walmart is a waste of time and the community should be working on education.

 

·         Noberto Martinez, of 4B02, said he is against the proposal because it would offer minimum wage jobs.

 

·         Donna Ellis, of Peabody Street, NW, said that studies show that for every job Walmart creates, 1.4 jobs area jobs are lost.  A Chicago study showed that out of 306 stores near Walmart, 82 went out of business within nine months.

 

·         Walter Mallette, of 4B04, and Roger Wayland, a Georgia Avenue business owner, said they are concerned about the lack of traffic data.  Mr. Mallette said he is concerned about Walmart’s relatively low charitable contribution rate compared to Target and the number of stores reported to go out of business when a Walmart opens nearby.

 

·         Michael Sindram, of 4B02, said, among other things, that protesters should not have picketed the home of Foulger-Pratt Executive Richard Knapp, that it is unfair to ask Walmart to pay for public improvements because other businesses have not been asked to do so, and that he was treated unfairly as a member of the Community Benefits Committee.

 

·         Yvonne Johnson, of 4B01, said, among other things, that she would rather not see Walmart come to Ward 4 because it is a poor fit for the site.

 

·         Rebecca Mills, of 4B04, said the project will lead to huge traffic problems.

 

·         Cynthia Weeks, of 4B01, said a compromise is needed and negotiation is called for.  DC needs jobs and businesses.

 

The meeting adjourned at about 9 pm.

-- Submitted by Sara Green, Secretary