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AU Park Superfresh Site Development Can Finally Move Forward

by Nena Perry-Brown

Rendering of Superfresh development. Click to enlarge.

More than four years after its initial introduction, and two months after a contentious two-night hearing, the Zoning Commission voted unanimously to approve a planned unit development (PUD) for the former Superfresh grocery site just off Massachusetts Avenue on Monday night. 

The project will deliver a 214-unit mixed-use building and five townhouses at 4330 48th Street NW (map) atop a 13,000 square foot MOM's Organic Market grocery store. Outside of the Torti Gallas design, the overall proposal for the site has not changed much since its first iteration when it was envisioned as a six-story project with 250 units and a grocery store.

The arguments against the project have evolved over the years, ranging from concerns over the "urbanization" of the site to concerns over possible impacts on traffic, schools, and natural light. A final vote scheduled last month was delayed to require the applicant to respond to a shadow study put forth by Citizens for Responsible Development (CRD), a community organization that opposes the project.

CRD and others who have testified against the project have also lobbied for a smaller development with more affordable housing. However, zoning commissioners recommended at an October hearing that developer Valor Development add more affordable housing, noting that this project is also an opportunity for Ward 3 to begin participating in the city's production of housing across the income spectrum.

Since the October meeting, Valor has increased the inclusionary zoning (IZ) proffered from 11 to 12 percent. The IZ units would remain affordable through the life of the project and will include at least four units with three bedrooms.

During last night's meeting, commissioners noted that any adverse impacts the development could have were manageable, and also referenced warnings from opponents who have said that they were ready to pursue an appeal should the PUD be approved.

"All of the Comprehensive Plan policies were taken into consideration and the public benefits and the policies that are being supported outweigh any adverse impacts of the project," Commissioner Robert Miller said, referencing the "balancing test" argument the Commission made to reiterate approval of the appealed McMillan PUD. Miller also mentioned before the vote that he hopes it will be a "final, final action".

"If not, we're up to the task," replied Chair Anthony Hood.

Correction: The article previously misstated the name of organization Citizens for Responsible Development.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/zoning-commission-unanimously-approves-au-park-superfresh-site-pud/16159

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