Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More on the Savage MARC station development

As I said yesterday, I think the type of development being proposed is generally good: it makes use of an already developed site, it is integrated with transit, it has a viable mix of uses, it will have a non-negligible amount of affordable housing, it is land efficient, and it’s in an area already well-served by public infrastructure.

But what about this?

The plan calls for two high-rise residential towers containing a combined 260 apartments, 53,000 square feet of mostly retail stores, two restaurants, 145,000 square feet of office space in two six-story buildings, a nine-story, 200-room hotel and five parking garages for 2,000 vehicles spread throughout the site.

It is a preliminary, conceptual plan that, for example, shows two 13-story residential towers, even though county height regulations limit buildings to 100 feet or about nine stories, according to Marsha McLaughlin, the county planning director, who also attended the event.

Hmm. The proposal, although preliminary, calls for buildings that are taller than what is currently allowed by county regulations. It will be interesting to see what happens with that, no?

For me, the height issue isn’t really a big deal, especially at this site and when compared to all the other facets involved in development. Height actually seems like a rather trivial and mostly aesthetic thing.

That said, context matters. Buildings that are too tall can disrupt the character of a neighborhood, but probably not as much as an overall bad development project, which this isn’t (and in this case, the existing character of the neighborhood is, well, not one where a tall building is going to be a downgrade).

Speaking of context, I absolutely hate development like we’re seeing on the Eastern Shore. Today’s dispatch from the other side of the Bay is ostensibly about an office park, but it's also more than that: development on greenfields and another verse from the popular hit “The Exurbanite’s Lament.”
Many of the new arrivals who have snapped up about half of the 67 homes at The Preserve at Wye Mills, houses priced at $500,000 or more, say that commuting across the bay is the price they pay for getting more house for their money in a tranquil setting surrounded by farm fields. Not surprisingly, they are wary of more development.

"Our community is only 60-some homes, so I don't see we're making that much impact," says Matthew Watson, 26, who drives about an hour each way to the marine service company he owns in southern Anne Arundel County. "I would not want to see any businesses that would draw more traffic."
To be sure, the impact of one additional person isn't that great. But to think that this development isn't part of and contributing to the bigger problem of sprawl on the Eastern Shore is willful ignorance. Field by field, new residents are destroying much of what brought them there.


hocoblog said...

Hayduke, are those height restrictions you refer to limited to Columbia? Are they County wide?

Hayduke said...

The height restrictions are county wide, except for Columbia (New Town). Hence, the 22-story Plaza building.