Developers Say Their Unique Design Should Curb Traffic for the Proposed Whole Foods

In the first phase of planning, the team behind Whole Foods says they will tackle issues like traffic creatively.

The architects behind the new want consumers to forget about the typical designs they’re used to seeing. Instead, they can expect to see a blend of creativity in the store projected for Riverdale Park.

“None of it’s prototypical,” said Jim Voelzke, one of the lead architects from MV+A architects. “Every store is unique, every store is to be reflective of its community.”

The Bethesda-based architecture firm has worked with Whole Foods for close to 18 years — their closest designs are the Whole Foods in D.C. at both DuPont Circle and Georgetown. As the first stage of planning for the retail begins, on June 20 discussing how to tackle issues like traffic in a creative manner.

The aesthetics of the design will appeal to the urban image of the town, they said, though the retail center won’t be incredibly dense. But, the design won’t be a , either – somewhere, they will find a balance.

Similar to other Whole Foods in Silver Spring and D.C., however, will be its size – the grocery store will hover somewhere around 35,000 square feet on land that supports 185,000 in commercial space. The one-story shop will be surrounded by service retail and a fitness center, as well as some office space.

A slew of parking will surround the Whole Foods, Voelzke said, which he hopes will alleviate some of the traffic issues expected along Route 1. Rather than place the parking underground like its local counterparts, or strictly in front of commercial storefronts, he said, the plan is to strategically place them around the development with easy access to the street, creating a “hybrid” plan.

Whole Foods and their developers were attracted to the location due to its proximity to transit options as well, said Chip Reed, Cafritz’ attorney. The location is a hub center for the Metro, MARC train, bike trails and, once completed, the Purple Line.

The town has strived to become more pedestrian-friendly, and Whole Foods hopes to maintain that image by opening up the area for pedestrians by cleaning and repaving sidewalks, allowing for other transit options as well.

“We recognize there are some challenges here,” Reed said. “Traffic is certainly the main one, but I think we’re on the right track.”

The team also envisions enlisting shuttle services to eliminate multiple single-passenger cars en route to the store.

The cost for the project will be approximately $226 million, according to Reed.

In a six-year period, he said about 1,883 jobs will be created on site and 430 full-time permanent jobs will result from the store.

Whole Foods can expect to bring in $11 million in revenue annually, Reed said, and should be open by the end of 2014. 

Linda V. June 28, 2011 at 12:36 PM
The Cafritz plan would be a much better project if they had plans for more than one entry/exit point. Current plans have a single access point, across from Van Buren Street on Route 1. An additional entry/exit at the backside has been proposed but is always ignored.
CJT4 June 29, 2011 at 02:36 PM
This is a complete disaster and a sham of an article. 1.) There is TONS of unused commercial space all over Hyattsville and College Park. Why do we need more development while so much is un-used/for lease? 2.) They have NO traffic solution. They only "hope" that their "unique" design will alleviate the traffic that is already bad, pre-Whole Foods. 3.) How is it pedestrian friendly to cut down an undeveloped wooded area and put in a bunch of parking lots???
Sonia Dasgupta (Editor) June 29, 2011 at 03:22 PM
CJT4 -- This is not a "sham" of an article — we're reporting what the developer presented to the Riverdale Park's town council on June 20... we will continue to follow this story. If you would like us to look into a certain aspect of the plan, you can let us know what you'd like us to find out and well try to get your questions answered. You can e-mail me directly at sonia@patch.com. Thanks for your feedback. Sonia Dasgupta, Editor.
Jb Russell June 29, 2011 at 03:31 PM
My family has lived at the corner of Van Buren and 44th Avenue (one house away from the ONE entryway into the Cafritz development) for 19 years. We see cars speed down Van Buren off of Route 1 every day/night: blowing past the stop sign near the well-used mailbox; killing one of our cats; nearly missing bicycles rocketing down the 44th Ave hill from Queens Chapel. We also see traffic backed up nearly every morning from East West Highway FIVE LONG BLOCKS to Van Buren -- usually blocking our exit from Van Buren onto Route 1. My plan is to organize my neighbors -- whose children and animals are already threatened by the out of control traffic on Van Buren -- to petition to have Van Buren become exit-only onto Route 1 at a light. Even better, they could block the entrance completely! What happens to the UP homes that front or share a side yard with Route 1? More rentals? Rezoning for them as well, a la Kenilworth Avenue? I don't want to share a fence line with a Palm Reader or a Passport Photo Shop. I can't imagine that the increased traffic, pollution, noise, population etc on the Cafritz property is going to increase the value of my home or my neighbors homes -- Whole Foods within walking distance or not. The only creative "plan" that I want to see is NO entrance off of Route 1, and a thick tree line separating Route 1 from the development. If they're so into "pedestrian access" they can build us a couple of paths through the trees.....
Erik Miller June 30, 2011 at 04:10 AM
It will be nice to have WF so close by, they would be great neighbors. Too often however the university or College Park see to their own needs while pushing costs onto everyone who lives here, thanks mostly to the apathetic student population. The students don't have much political voice, they don't really come here expecting the college town experience, and they leave as soon as they can after paying as little as possible. The exhorbitant retail rents here mean that only the most exploitive businesses can survive, businesses that cater to transience, convenience and fashion. Whole Foods would be a welcome change in this trend (from my 25 years here) - yet the costs will likely still fall on us who live here. Are we going to be made to pay for parking? If so, I will *never* go there, just like I don't go into College Park for this reason. Perhaps if we could see a totally different business model than to wring every nickel and dime out of everyone who is here while giving as little back to the community as possible, this project would have obvious, widespread appeal. Meanwhile however, the only ones left here paying for these costs are the residents, and we've seen it all too often.
Audrey Bragg June 30, 2011 at 03:07 PM
I thought that property was zoned as residential. When did it change to commercial zoning? Just curious.
treehugr July 01, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Great to learn that our demographics are now attractive to the likes of Whole Foods. But this store really belongs at UTC across from the Metro. The parking, permits, and infrastructure are all easily solvable there. I wouldn't be surprised if WF isn't using Cafritz as a way to negotiate a better lease at UTC. Just like Cafritz may be using WF to get an OK for something other than residential.
Linda V. July 01, 2011 at 04:50 PM
treehugr - you make a whole lotta sense. I think you might be on to something. Meanwhile, did you hear about the stabbing at UTC last night?
Michael B. Cron July 02, 2011 at 12:42 AM
Zoning has not changed as of yet. They are however trying to align themselves with the TDOZ in College Park (the M Squared area) in order to change their zoning status.
Michael B. Cron July 02, 2011 at 12:49 AM
The only problem with your scenario is the fact that the land at UTC is zoned for not only a supermarket but a multi-floor apartment and or condo to be built over the supermarket. Whole Foods would not be able to build there unless the zoning was changed to allow a single story structure.
Audrey Bragg July 07, 2011 at 03:04 PM
Whole foods will not be the only development on the property. The proposed development would include approximately 168,000 sq. ft. of retail, a hotel, office space and close to 1000 housing units. Next meeting for a briefing by the developer is scheduled for July 18, 7:30 p.m. at University Park Elementary School. This project will shape the future of our community for decades to come and we need to be involved.
Danny July 07, 2011 at 04:33 PM
where, exactly, is all this unused retail space in hyattsville and college park? the college park marketplace is 100% leased; arts district hyattsville is nearly 100% leased, including a supermarket. the vacancies in downtown college park are for small shops and restaurants, not 35,000-sq-ft supermarkets. the retail space in the new student housing on route 1 in CP are filling up rapidly and, again, are not in any way designed for a supermarket. the only other possibility would be the empty lots at UTC, but i think there are obvious reasons why whole foods wouldn't consider itself a good fit for UTC.
Danny July 07, 2011 at 04:35 PM
whole foods at UTC... i hear the brooklyn bridge is for sale, too.
Jb Russell July 07, 2011 at 06:44 PM
@Danny: Are you aware of how bigoted your remarks about UTC come across?
Danny July 07, 2011 at 07:24 PM
"bigoted"? care to explain?
buckeye July 07, 2011 at 10:34 PM
Honestly, I don't see Danny's comment as bigoted. UTC is filled with empty storefronts, some that were never leased, others that were leased but did not survive. UTC condo developments are not fully leased. The fountain that used to be a nice feature was/is no longer functioning. There was a recent murder there. The management and marketing of UTC is questionable or lacking. Why would WF want to put a store there?
Adelphi Sky July 09, 2011 at 02:12 PM
Erik, I understand your complaint. But the cost of parking doesn't outweigh the huge tax revenues the development will bring. I think people forget sometimes that developments don't just appear and sit. They bring much needed jobs to the area while also increasing the tax base. Which lessens the tax burden for all of us. If it can do that, then I don't mind paying $1 to park. In addition, the parking fees you mention are highly speculative. I've been to Whole Foods in about four different states and all around the D.C. area and I have yet to park at one that charges for parking. Even UTC gives you the first two hours free.
Adelphi Sky July 09, 2011 at 02:19 PM
Whole Foods at UTC isn't completely out of the question. And why not? You think people who live in Riverdale and University Park won't find it just as convenient to go to UTC? And while the HHS lease decision is still up in the air, it is completely plausible that Whole Foods would locate near a government office which would certain kick-start UTC once again. Empty store fronts aren't an excuse. There are empty storefronts in Arts District and College Park. Those don't seem to be stopping development.
Sonia Dasgupta (Editor) July 11, 2011 at 05:18 PM
For those of you following the Cafritz Property stories --- just wanted to let you know we reposted an earlier story with corrections - if you want another read: http://patch.com/A-hXrF


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