The D.C. neighborhood of Takoma, just across the state line from the Maryland neighborhood of Takoma Park, has a hole in the ground. A big hole. A hole that collects water when it rains and which is surrounded by less-than-welcoming chain link fences, plainly visible to everyone who passes along Carroll Street Northwest, the area’s main drag.
So...what’s going on with the hole in the middle of Takoma?
Longtime Takoma residents may recall that the site, at the corner of Carroll and Maple streets Northwest, was once home to a gas station and truck rental facilities. Located behind a 7-11 convenience store and across from the Big Bad Woof pet supply store, the site was planned for an 85-unit condominium project called Ecco Park, with a green roof, “eco-friendly” materials and even rooftop yoga lessons and a dog-cleaning station. (Could it be more Takoma Park?)
The building — this is what it was going to look like — would also feature some ground floor retail and about 70 underground parking spaces. Thus the hole.
But that was before the real estate bust. Like many companies planning condo projects, developers of the Carroll Street project, led by Bethesda-based design and development firm SGA Cos., decided to build the project as apartments instead. They broke ground in the summer of 2011.
Then the digging stopped and here’s why: Although the location on Carroll Street near the Takoma Park Metro station is a choice one, building on a former gas station site is not always easy, especially when the environment is concerned. For this project, the D.C. Department of the Environment opened a case in the branch that handles LUST, which sounds sexy but stands for “Leaking Underground Storage Tanks.” Not good.
On Carroll Street, where SGA also plans a second project, two companies were responsible for the contamination, Chevron and SUNOCO, according to Department of Environment records. Until remediation is complete, there will be no rooftop yoga or dog washing. Sassan Gharai, founder of SGA, did not return a request for comment, so it’s unclear when things might start up again.
Neighbors are clearly sick of the corner being vacant, however.
“For many years we had a very ugly site,” said Sara Green, advisory neighborhood commissioner for the area. “It was choked with weeds, it had trash periodically, it had a very ugly fence that was surrounding it...now we have a hole.”
Is there a project, building or property in your neighborhood that you want to learn more about? We’ve previously written about the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center, the Hill East development, the Arlington Funeral home site and others. You can send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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