Well, I'm going to come right out and say it. I'm not a fan of the Costco plans for the vacant Hecht's space at the Westfield Mall. When I initially heard about the possible Costco, my first reaction was indifference. I don't have a Costco membership and I don't feel a need to store a year's supply of toilet paper at my house (nor do I have the space!).
The more I thought about it, though, the more strongly I started to feel that this is a bad move for Wheaton. To frame my argument against Costco, I'm going to paste in the goals announced late last year for the updated Wheaton CBD Sector Plan (more info at www.montgomeryplanning.org/community/wheaton/index.shtm).
Here is the list of goals from the planning board's website:
-Focus new development and revitalization efforts near the Metro's Red Line
-Reinvigorate Wheaton's downtown by creating a walkable community with a distinct identity
-Create a vibrant mix of jobs and housing -Preserve Wheaton's ethnic diversity -Design quality public spaces inviting to pedestrians -Foster an environmentally sustatinable community
First of all, I want to say that I whole-heartedly support these goals. Wheaton is already well on its way to many of them, and the neighborhood's unique vibe combined with all the great potential that exists is one of the main reasons I moved here. If you take these goals and think about whether Costco will really help Wheaton to acheive any of them, you'll start to see why I have a problem with this.
As I started to collect my thoughts on all of this, I realized that I was going to create the mother of all posts if I talked about all the different issues that I see with bringing Costco in. So, I'm going to let this post stand as-is, and I'll organize future posts about Costco around each of the goals listed above.
Until then, I'll leave you with two images. The first image is the google street view of the Costco in Beltsville (only a 17 minute drive from Wheaton!). The second image is from the planning board's presentation about the updated sector plan for the Wheaton CBD. Which one do you think we should be aiming for?