by Roz Grigsby
A tower crane rising from the depths of the muddy excavation site is a sign that work is underway again at Takoma Central, the long-awaited development at the corner of Carroll Street and Maple avenue on the Takoma Park/Takoma, D.C. line. With the arrival of heavy equipment and a load of steel I-beams, one of the most visible developments in the Takoma area seems to be back on track.
Takoma Central has a new configuration of partners and they say they are determined to see the project through to completion. The original developer, SGA architects, is joined by Level 2 Development, Federal Capital Partners and Hamel Builders to develop the properties in the 200 block of Carroll Street, NW. They plan to erect a building with 150 rental units and 9,000 square feet of commercial space on the street level. No commercial tenants have yet been announced, but retail and restaurant space are possibilities.
Patty Baker, co-director of the old Takoma Business association, is pleased with the progress. “OTBA is looking forward to welcoming many new residents and additional businesses,” she says. “Takoma Central will be a major addition to the vibrancy of old Takoma.”
The project, in the works since 2004, has experienced numerous re- configurations and setbacks, including the discovery of buried gas tanks that had to be excavated, the associated environmental cleanup, and unanticipated financial challenges. At one point the building was to be condominiums; now it will be apartments. The final design reflects a mix of the architectural styles of the area, incorporating a Victorian warehouse-style component, a contemporary Art Deco style building and a glass “hyphen” connecting the two. “Now that the details of the design are worked out and permitted, we are ready to go ahead with construction,” says Jon Kardon, of Level 2 Developers.
Takoma Central will be a mix of studio apartments and one and two-bedroom apartments, plus retail or other commercial business on the ground floor. Amenities will include a fitness center, a resident lounge, a landscaped courtyard, a business center with WiFi, secure bicycle storage, on-site car-sharing and controlled access. The buildings are designed for LEED Certification, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating for high performance green buildings. Leasing will not begin until the project is nearer completion next year.
In the meantime, Phase I of the project has resumed with final excavation, the installation of a tower crane, and preparation for the concrete garage foundation. In February, underground utilities and concrete footings will be installed at the foundation level and excavation will begin of Phase II, in the former PMI parking lot. The developers have an ambitious schedule, expecting to have the construction done in about 18 months, subject to weather conditions.
Ben Homola, owner of Trohv, a home goods and gift store across the street from the site, is glad to see renewed activity at that location. “I think the project across the street will push the area over the tipping point for making Takoma a real destination,” he says. “People will come here and have multiple options in the area. It will also increase the time that Takoma is “open for business” by adding additional commercial activity. My only concerns have been about it not getting done.”
During construction, the site will have two construction entrances: one on Maple Avenue and the other on Carroll. The curb lane on Carroll will be used for a truck delivery and loading zone. The centerline of the 200 block of Carroll Street will be re-striped and shifted to the south. Flagmen will help direct traffic when trucks are loading and unloading. The sidewalk in front of the site will be closed, with pedestrians rerouted to the south side of Carroll, and metered parking will be removed in the 200 block of Carroll. The sidewalk on Maple adjoining the site will also be closed and two parking spots will be removed during the construction.