District residents and the Zoning Commission aren’t the only ones talking about corner stores, the Washington Post and Washington City Paper both published articles this week looking at these neighborhood institutions.
Corner stores are small commercial establishments found in lower density residential areas. The existing zoning regulations do not allow commercial uses in our residential districts, which means that existing corner stores are “grandfathered.” Any changes to an existing corner store or a proposal to open a new store would require approval from the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). As part of the Zoning Regulations Review (ZRR), OP is proposing to allow limited neighborhood serving commercial, service, and arts uses in our rowhouse zones (current R-3 and R-4), with a particular emphasis on encouraging corner grocery stores. You can see OP’s proposal after the jump.
Here is OP’s proposal.
A Corner Store could only be located on a lot that:
• Is at the intersection of two streets; or is an interior or through lot if the building was built prior to 1958 as a non-residential use;
• Is 500 feet from the nearest commercially zoned (M or N) property (750 feet for the R-20 zone);
• Is within 500 feet of no more than one other lot with an eating establishment use;
• Is within 500 feet of no more than three other lots with a Corner Store use;
• Is not an alley lot;
• Does not also contain an accessory apartment or another Corner Store; and
• Does not have more than one dwelling unit.
A Corner Store could NOT:
• Be located in an accessory building on the lot;
• Be more than 1,200 sq. ft. in total area;
• Occupy any space above the ground story;
• Sell alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption;
• Devote more than 15% of the floor area to the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption;
• Include on-site cooking of food or the installation of grease traps; although food assembly and reheating would be permitted;
• Have outdoor storage of materials or trash; and
• Include the on-site use or storage of dry-cleaning chemicals.
A corner grocery store would be permitted by right, provided:
• It meets the other conditions noted above;
• Hours of operation would be limited to 7 AM to 9 PM; and
• There could be no more than one external sign, not illuminated and flush-mounted.
A corner store for other retail, service, arts, or eating uses would be permitted only by special exception, with BZA approval.
The Zoning Commission has received a lot of feedback, both positive and negative, on the corner store proposal during its public hearings. What do you think? Do you have favorite corner store in your neighborhood?