I attended the Cafritz development community input meeting last Saturday and wanted to post an overview for other community members.
Jane and Calvin Cafritz, two members of the Cafritz family, opened with a welcome. The team members running the workshop portion were friendly and appeared interested to hear public comments. As an added bonus, doughnuts, coffee and lunch were served.
The format is described by the Cafritz development group as a workshop and, therefore, the meeting portion ran no more than fifteen minutes. During this time, the development team presented a short history of the property and an overview of the team’s values. These values included: linking the adjacent communities, creating a high quality retail area, developing a pedestrian friendly community, incorporating arts facilities, enhancing open spaces and providing a choice of diverse housing.
The remaining time was dedicated to public input. The workshop was organized in small stations where members of the development team discussed public input on key aspects of the prospective project. The topics included: history, livability, environmental sustainability, business retail, transportation, WMATA Site (13 acres of Metro land directly north of the Cafritz property), culture and community, open spaces, and placemaking (creating a destination for recreation, shopping, etc). Additional discussion on these topics can be found at Rethink College Park and The RP Coffeehouse. Here’s a pdf of the Cafritz program.
My overall impressions were positive and I felt that the development team was interested in engaging the public in this discussion. County Council member Eric Olson termed the outreach unique and important. Although no development plans have yet been filed, one must keep in mind that the development group does have a vision for the property. Certainly the selected team members, the stated values and the workstation topics lead me to believe that this project will tend towards high-density development. The very point of having the community input meetings is to modify the original single family zoning.
I am encouraged by the inclusion of green space and livability concerns in the core values of the development team. To what extent these topics will impact the overall development may very well depend on public comment. Now is the time to have your opinion heard. I urge you to attend the next public workshop on Thursday, June 7, 7 pm-9 pm at Riverdale Park Elementary School.–Michelle H.
Addendum During her summation as the workshop wrapped up, Jane Cafritz identified the following themes that had emerged during the day: creating a sense of a village, familiarity, kid-safe environment, pedestrian friendly, diverse non-chain retail and restaurants, and connectivity-bringing together “the Parks” (College, Riverdale & University).