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What's on the Agenda: Wheaton Redevelopment Advisory Committee

WRAC will hear an update about the Wheaton Library and Recreation Center project at its Wednesday meeting.

The Wheaton Redevelopment Advisory Committee usually meets the third Wednesday of every month, but because of the Thanksgiving holiday, its November meeting was rescheduled to Wednesday, Nov. 28.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Mid-County Regional Services Center at 2424 Reedie Drive.

AntonFisher November 27, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Esther, We are very interested in a recap of the meeting after it takes place since the meeting summary is not available on the County site for several months after the meeting takes place.
Esther French (Editor) November 28, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Anton, I'll be taking notes at the WRAC meeting tonight, so there will be a recap published on Wheaton Patch. Thanks for expressing your interest!
AntonFisher November 29, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Thanks Esther! Will you be posting eth summary today?
Commentous November 30, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Not directly a redevelopment meeting issue but how does downtown Wheaton support this many check cashing places? The newest one is on the Georgia side of the Triangle near Dunkin Donuts, directly across from the incoming Safeway. It seems like these businesses might turn off potential buyers. Along with the one at the former auto parts store near University and Grandview, we have at least 4 (and probably more) dedicated check-cashing places right around the Triangle. This does not include markets or laundromats that also offer these services. On the other hand, it looks like a French bakery will take the spot of Asian Foods which was in the strip on University with Max's and CVS.
ED November 30, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Commercial property owners can lease their space to any business allowed by the zoning. Unfortunately for Wheaton, this often results in multiple similar businesses. If the market can not sustain them, these small businesses will not survive and the cycle starts again.
AntonFisher November 30, 2012 at 02:30 PM
ED - Unfortunately, the market does not sustain the similar types of businesses in Wheaton, and that is why certain groups are interested in maintaining very low rents in Wheaton. Additionally, some groups (e.g. LEDC) are trying to tie any new development in Wheaton with subsidies to some failed businesses.
Commentous November 30, 2012 at 02:50 PM
ED--I understand the pseudo-capitalism applied to downtown Wheaton. My comment was a concern about how Wheaton is redeveloping. Maybe, as you suggest, downtown Wheaton simply cannot support a Baskin-Robbins, Barnaby's pub, a bicycle store, Dusit Thai or Asian Foods, an Indonesian restaurant, or a children's gymnastics center (after a workers' center is placed next door). But what potential homeowner, who may not know much about the area, wants to move into a place that supports 5-10 check-cashing places within 2 blocks, especially when many weren't here just a few years ago? If you were buying now, would you move into the area around the Safeway? As of now, County-assisted redevelopment plans consist, essentially, of one future government building. What the area does have is several recent check cashing businesses, large laundromats that used to be restaurants, tiendas, and some interesting businesses that bring to Wheaton people who would otherwise never come (like the fish store, Little Bitts, and the dance center). We love Moby Dick but not many people from outside Wheaton go there. And the strip malls around Georgia have many vacancies, though the county liquor store and the beer shops seem to do well. Obviously anyone can open a business. That's not the point. The types of businesses being opened and sustained can and should be something for residents and potential residents to consider.
ED November 30, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Anton - It is my understanding that any subsidies for small businesses will only apply to "sustainable" businesses. The key will be in deciding what "sustainable" is. Commentous - I agree with much of what you say, but once Safeway opens and MNCPPC comes to Wheaton, retail space around these developments will become more desirable and more expensive. As a result, you'll probably see the types of businesses you would like to see. The government can not dictate the types of businesses that can open in any area (other than through zoning laws) and as much as some people don't like the idea of a government building in the heart of Wheaton, it is, in my opinion, the quickest way to get things moving.
Commentous November 30, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Though government cannot dictate businesses, its actions--whether supporting Costco, CASA worker centers, LEDC, the Coalition for the Fair Redevelopment of Wheaton, or a government building (as opposed to private development)--have an impact on how an area develops. Also, on its face, one building may seem to be the quickest way to "get things moving," but I don't know how long it takes for County government to approve the design of and construct a large office building. Would you have information on how long this process usually takes from the point we're at in Wheaton right now? A company with a substantial investment would seem to want to move just as quickly as government officials. Just my opinion.
ED November 30, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Commentous - I have no idea how long it will take the government to approve the design and construction of a large office building or how long the process normally takes. As a resident of the Wheaton area, I would rather have the government commit to a building than to listen to years of discussions on public-private partnerships that may or may not happen, depending on the developer. BF Saul consistently stated that they "may" be able to build an office building and hotel, but wouldn't know until after a platform was constructed with taxpayer dollars, and JBG just pulled out of the Bethesda police department partnership. As far as the support dedicated to the other groups you mentioned, they do have an impact on how an area develops, but can not prevent the multiple check-cashing places you originally talked about. Personally, I'm not happy with $10 million dollars of my tax dollars going to Westfield since 2005, but what's done is done. By the way, I think you previously checked on the 400 free parking spaces in the Macy's garage for residents that want to walk-off - for the record, according to the Manager of Westfield Wheaton Mall, these spaces are still available based on the 2005 ($6 million) agreement with the County. If residents aren't using these spaces, they should - God knows they paid for them.
AntonFisher November 30, 2012 at 11:30 PM
I guess you changed your mind Esther!!! Are we still going to see the meeting recap? Previous editors kept us up to date on what happens at these meetings.
Esther French (Editor) December 01, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Hi Anton, there will be a meeting recap posted Monday. Thanks for your patience!

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