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Palisades Safeway Will Not Receive Landmark Designation

by Nena Perry-Brown

Palisades Safeway, courtesy of Google Streetview. Click to enlarge.

In recent years, various DC communities have preemptively sought to have certain properties designated as historic landmarks in order to preclude larger development on those sites. Today, however, one property owner has succeeded in preempting the pro-designation crowd.

The Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) voted unanimously on Thursday that the Safeway grocery store at 4865 MacArthur Boulevard NW (map) does not merit historic designation. The vote prevents another party from applying to have the site designated as a historic landmark for the following year.

Claude Bailey, the applicant's legal representative, stated to the Board that there are currently no plans to redevelop the site, but that Safeway subsidiary NAI Saturn would like to explore its options.

"The decision that the store is ineligible for designation would provide Safeway with more certainty about possible future uses for the store and allow it to plan accordingly," Bailey explained. "No decisions have been made at this time for the store's future, but it would help us greatly if we knew what we could do with this building at some point in the future."

While the report from DC's Historic Preservation Office noted that the application was unusual, a property owner also successfully used this tactic in 1998. However, boardmember Andrew Aurbach cautioned against property owners attempting this tactic in the future.

"I think this is such a unique application, and it certainly has spurred some discussion among the preservation community and other communities, and I think, per the staff report, it's important to note that, for future potential applicants who might want to take this route, that it does run the risk of the Board disagreeing with one or more of the premises and thus accepting it as a landmark nomination in the positive," Aurbach stated. "So while I totally agree with this and the underpinnings of this, I would like to caution that this is not necessarily a tool that a property owner should enter into lightly."

UrbanTurf will keep an eye on whether redevelopment plans emerge for the site in that time.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/hprb-votes-not-to-grant-landmark-designation-to-safeway/15088

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