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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. 

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 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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