Chick-Fil-a in Fort Lincoln: To Drive-thru, or not to Drive-thru, that is the variance.

Chick-Fil-a is slated to be the latest fast-casual franchise restaurant at the Shops at Dakota Crossing in Fort Lincoln.  The site is located in the grassy lot in front of Lowes as seen in the photos above.  Early reactions on social media from Fort Lincoln residents were mixed once word of the selection was made.  Some residents welcomed the chain while others are opposed; while some are for political reasons others are still concerned about the selection of restaurants hoping for healthier selections such as Panera Bread which have declined to take up residence at the Shops according to the Developers.  The site was initially slated to be a bank with drive up tellers, but according to the developers banks weren’t looking to expand.

According to the BZA Application the Developer would like special exception relief to allow a drive-thru.

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According to the application fast food establishments are  permitted as a matter-of-right and that the special exception is for the drive-thru.  Retailer aside, I’m concerned with the narrative of the application which in my opinion inaccurately details the true conditions of that location as well as the engagement and reaction with both the ANC directly and the community.  Some of the items that stick out to me are:

  1. “Given the excellent vehicular access to the property…” We all know that access in and out of the shopping center is still challenging, even with the center  being less than 100% leased and operational.
  2. “Far removed from any residential property…”  The entire shopping center is surrounded by residential development.
  3. “There will be no adverse impacts associated with the drive-through…”  There is no discussion of walkability and the ability of pedestrians to safety and comfortably access the shopping center.
  4. The Applicant has reached out to the affected ANC and community groups and there is strong support of this application.”; Complete Lie.  Receipt of the application by mail was on August 29, 2017; that was the first official notification to the ANC Commissioner.

Aside from the 4 items above, there is already concern from residents with the flow of traffic in the shopping center. Most pedestrians proceed at the mercy of courteous drives to access the majority of the pedestrian cross walks.  The walkability of the shopping center with a high volume drive-thru will impact how people can safely access the center and the community needs to be involved in the planning process for how and what is implemented.  Some of the obvious concerns are the following:

1. Existing infrastructure leaves pedestrians at the mercy of vehicles that are coming from Rt. 50/NY Ave. which have complete right of way and no required stops.

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2. Traffic flow along market street which has two pedestrian cross walks ( at this location) which has no required stops except when pedestrians are present.  (Cars decide whether not to stop at these signs.  Most times they do not.)

3. Where’s the traffic study to determine how the location of this drive-thru will contribute to back ups at the intersection of Market Street and Fort Lincoln Drive. As well as the on ramp onto the shopping center where one lane is often backed up for the Costco Gas station.

4. Trash along Fort Lincoln Drive between 33rd and 31st place as a result of cars which often park and throw trash out of the window.  (The city will not place trash cans in this location after multiple request)

5. The aesthetics of the building are counter intuitive to the work by the National Capital Planning Commission to ensure that the building is architecturally appropriate as the second building seen entering the city.  Chick-Fil-a has many concepts for their stores and for the store that serves as the gateway to the nations capital is generic and not neighborhood oriented.

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Overall, while a restaurant is consistent with the property use, a high capacity drive-thru in a shopping center with minimally regulated/enforced traffic infrastructure is not. The developer needs to officially address the concerns of the community and how to accommodate the adverse impacts to the community.  The meeting for the drive-thru variance is on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at 7:00pm.  The meeting will be held at Mount Horeb Baptist Church.


 

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11 thoughts on “Chick-Fil-a in Fort Lincoln: To Drive-thru, or not to Drive-thru, that is the variance.”

  1. This is my first time hearing about this! You said that “some residents welcomed the chain while others are opposed.” How long have these “residents’ known about this information? It’s amazing that all these “residents” have formed an opinion when most of us are learning about this for the first time. I appreciate most of your concerns, but most of the ones you listed will be problematic no matter what goes there. I will definitely try to make this meeting. I personally would love for this restaurant to be built here.

  2. Thank you for the update. I look forward to the meeting and will air 3 comments now. FIRST, the miscommunication between what actually happened and what was put in the city application, in and of itself, warrants voting NO on the variance at this point.

    SECOND, the Shops area keeps getting bad food choices and these choices will stick with the community for years (if not decades). It will affect not only what we eat, but also home values and which other restaurants are willing to come to the area. We already have a Panda Express, there’s a Popeyes drive-thru nearby, and we might get Chipolte. I love chicken as much as the next guy, but how much of the same thing do we need? What is missing is some better-quality, healthier choices. The situation also sets up the restaurants to fail; you’re supposed to have variety not only for the customers, but also so the restaurants aren’t in direct competition and run each other out of business.

    THIRD, if a drive-thru does end up going there, this is an opportunity to get the backing of the business owners involved to change the traffic patterns. If they want the drive-thru, they should push to adjust the street patterns/lights to ease traffic. I think traffic will continue to get worse, but my sense is that a Cick-fil-A will not make a huge difference. Cick-fil-A’s customers are the same individuals who would already be driving through the area anyway (most likely to shop at Costco).

  3. Thank you for this information. I am opposed to Chik for political reasons and 100% will not support it, however, if they are able to prove that they are willing to address the issues pointed out I don’t begrudge others from enjoying yet another fast food chicken joint within walking distance if Popeye’s or American’s Wings down in Colmar Manor if eating fried chicken from any of three places within 3 miles just isn’t enough choice.

    Are there any plans for a sit-down family style restaurant? I know Panera declined, how about a Noodles and Co or Zoes some place to get pasta or a salad versus all the fast, fried food?

  4. More Standard American Diet fast food is not what the community needs. SAD that we have to be inundated with more junk food. Hens from overcrowded, inhumane conditions filled with omega-6 and stress hormones; french fries – pure sugar and fat, all pro-inflammatory, pro-diabetes, pro-hypertension, pro-cancer, pro-chronic pain. You have McDonalds, Popeyes, Jersey Mikes, Panda Express, Costco’s food service, and now this. And not ONE healthy alternative. This is terrible news. Will be taking my business to Hyattsville, Ivy City, Brookland, or Takoma Park. Nothing to eat here.

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