It was a strange turn of events for two cities in 2019. First, Amazon made national news with the cancellation of its proposed HQ2 headquarters in New York City. Soon after, Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC) announced a sudden reduction to its proposed 50,000 square foot retail building in the heart of Takoma Park, Maryland, due to a 2014 change in the county zoning regulations.
Left without options, the two corporations decided to merge on a joint venture.
“We kept hearing that Takoma Park was turning into Bethesda, so naturally I was drawn to it,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon. “Plus it was clear that residents wanted a different solution to this unique site; one that creates no tax revenue for the city. We can certainly meet that demand very easily with our current business model.”
Takoma Junction is a small commercial zone at the intersection of State Highway 410 and Carroll Avenue, and proposed development at the large parking lot owned by the City has become a hot button issue for residents over the past 4 years. Last Fall, the Takoma Park City Council voted 5-2 in favor of moving forward, until the surprise hit last week that NDC hit a snag in the county review process that threatened to derail the whole project.
“We were facing a complete disaster” said Adrian Washington, owner of NDC. “How on earth were we going to survive sitting through 30 more city council hearings? We’re so blessed that Mr. Bezos reached out to discuss a new strategy to avoid any local interaction.”
It also came as a surprise to the Council that yet another recent zoning change was made, this time allowing the project to increase the original 50,000 square foot, two story layout up to 2 million square feet and 40 stories. “Last week, the zoning department made us reduce the building by 17%, so our architects and engineers worked around the clock to make necessary revisions,” stated Washington. “But, when we returned this week, Governor Hogan appeared out of nowhere to announce a new zoning change by executive order. He also handed me 8 billion dollars in cash.”
Upon the announcement to residents, the Takoma Park Police braced for the worst. Within minutes, squad cars, K-9 units, and officers in full riot gear lined the streets around the Takoma Junction. However, nobody showed up to protest. When a resident was asked why no protests took place after the major news, she explained, “Well, in the first scheme, nobody got what they wanted. In this scheme, somehow we all got what we wanted. I even asked for a 5G-free zone to block radiation waves from the new cell towers…and they just said, OK!”
In the proposal, Amazon will takeover the TPSS Co-Op, tripling it in size, including 1,200 free parking spaces and a turnaround for an 18 wheeler. Co-Op memberships will be converted into Prime memberships. Also included in the retail levels are spaces for 30 coffee shops, 20 consignments shops, and a 40,000 square foot office space for Historic Takoma, which is quickly growing out of its current space across the street. To appease opponents, Bezos offered 100,000 square feet of community space to dance, take free yoga classes, sign petitions, or just bum off the free internet.
And of course, residents can rest easy knowing that the proposal includes constructing a new, free-standing 7-11 convenient store at the existing gas station, the 4th franchise in a half mile radius.
Asked if worried about concerns from Takoma Park residents that their cherished city would become more like Bethesda, a soul-less, corporate, dump heap a mere 8 miles to the west, Bezos remarked, “That’s silly-talk. We’ll never be like that. I’m thinking Beverly Hills 20912, baby!”
Bezos also talked about a future development planned to extend across the street along Carroll Avenue and continue all the way to University Boulevard. In that proposal, an underground subway line linking the New Purple Line station to the Takoma Station, called the Rainbow Line, is being considered “as long as Montgomery County and other municipalities pay for it.”