TPSS Co-op Expansion Project

Response to NDC November 11 update
November 17, 2016

The PDF of this document can be found here.

via email

November 17, 2016
Suzanne R. Ludlow
City Manager
City Of Takoma Park, Maryland
Re: NDC’s weekly Update Dated November 11, 2016

Dear Ms. Ludlow:

Because Adrian Washington’s latest update to the City on NDC’s discussions with the Co-op concerning a potential Letter of Intent contains a number of factual ambiguities and inaccuracies, we feel compelled to address and correct these. Since all of the updates NDC has submitted to the City are now available to the public via your website, I ask that in the interest of impartiality, you will also post this follow-up.

In his letter, Mr. Washington shares with the City two final proposals for inclusion of the Co-op in the development on the current municipal parking lot. Both proposals call for a lay by, or cutout lane off Carroll Avenue, a state highway. The Co-op has explained many times why such an arrangement would be too costly and inefficient for our business operations. Mr. Washington states the “Unloading for the Co-op’s large “18 wheeler” trucks would be made via a ‘lay by’ lane on Carroll Avenue. This unloading process is exactly the same as employed by several comparable or larger grocers in the area, including Trader Joe’s.”

The comparison with other grocery stores is not appropriate for a number of reasons, including
• TPSS abuts a totally residential area on two sides
• TPSS is located at a major, complicated intersection where elementary and middle school students walk.
• Trader Joe’s has its own warehouse and its own delivery trucks so it can control everything about its deliveries, including arrival times.
• There is no consideration of where other large trucks will wait if more than one arrives at the same time. Several days a week, multiple suppliers using 18-wheelers arrive at the Co-op, and we and they cannot control arrival time to the extent that we can be sure there will be no overlap.
• The concern voiced by the Takoma Park Fire Chief about traffic back-ups that might affect emergency response times

Mr. Washington goes on to state, “The distance from the proposed unloading point to the loading door of the new Co-op space would be approximately 85 feet, as opposed to the approximately 75 feet the current unloading process requires now. In other words, the proposed unloading procedure under this concept would be essentially the same as the Co-op’s current procedure, only a few steps further.” (Emphasis his)

This statement is inaccurate.
1. The exact distance from the point at which the delivery truck drops the pallet to the door of the Co-op is 55 feet. The additional 30 feet NDC proposes are not simply “a few steps further” especially when multiplied by the amount of trips required to unload an 18-wheeler.
2. The unloading conditions would be very different from what they are now. Utilizing a lay by would require unloading at the street, in an unprotected lane directly adjacent to active traffic.
3. The Co-op’s future unloading needs would not be the same as they are now. If the Co-op expands, we are hoping to double our retail sales, thus requiring more and bigger deliveries. Our intent from the beginning of our thoughts of expansion was to become more efficient, in order to be able to offer an even wider range of goods to our shoppers at the lowest possible price. The delivery process, as proposed by NDC, would add to our operating costs, not help reduce them. With more frequent deliveries and a higher volume of goods per delivery, being unloaded at the street, unprotected, in all kinds of weather conditions at the driveway to the development (the truck’s rear in the lay by would line up with the driveway entrance), on a busy street, and then manually transported to wherever the delivery entrance of the Co-op would be, would make the entire process much less efficient. We cannot go from the unloading scenario we have now, which is adequate for our current needs but hardly ideal, to the proposed lay by as described, and achieve our goal of a higher degree of operational efficiency and better cost effectiveness.

The first of NDC’s final proposals calls for the destruction of the Turner building and the construction of a new building stretching from the Auto Clinic to the intersection of Sycamore and Ethan Allen, with TPSS serving as the anchor tenant. Under this scenario, all non-truck vehicular traffic would either enter the development off Carroll Avenue or via Columbia Avenue. We are amazed that the latter would even be suggested, as it means that every car visiting the Co-op, the other tenants in the development, and the other Junction businesses would either turn left or right off Ethan Allen onto Sycamore and then onto Columbia or approach the entrance to the parking garage from the west on Columbia. Interrupting the residential traffic pattern in our adjacent neighborhood, both in times of use and volume will undoubtedly cause incredible traffic issues for our neighbors in this residential area, which we have no desire to be a party to.

As you may remember, when the Co-op was asked at a Council meeting early in the RFP process, why the Council should take the business needs of the Co-op seriously when we didn’t even have the assurance that we would be able to stay in the Turner building beyond the lease then in effect, I negotiated a 20-year lease with the Turner estate. We are in only the second year of that lease.

I am very pleased that Mr. Washington refers to our site as “the prime corner real estate at the intersection of Sycamore and Carroll Avenue.” It is, indeed, prime real estate and a perfect location for our grocery store, where it is visible to passing vehicles and pedestrians alike.

NDC’s second proposal “would expand the Co-op’s space west onto the City’s site, with adjacent retail built out along Carroll Avenue, maximizing potential street frontage. A ‘lay by’ lane along Carroll Avenue would allow large truck deliveries to be made during the off peak hours.” TPSS receives goods via 18-wheelers almost every day; sometimes three of them come on the same day. We cannot control when they arrive. Mr. Washington does not offer a definition of “peak hours” but goes on to state. “During typical business hours the ‘lay by’ lane could serve as a pick up/ drop off area, a bus lane or short term parking. A subgrade garage would provide longer term parking and could be accessed via Columbia Ave.” (Please see discussion of accessing the garage via Columbia Avenue earlier in this letter.)

Mr. Washington goes on to state that a” major drawback of Concept 2 (or any plan that expands the Co-op through an addition to the Turner building) is that the Co-op would be required to shut down for a number of months while the old building is integrated into the new addition. This statement is inaccurate. If an expansion is done through careful, cooperative planning, it is possible that business continuity would be minimally interrupted. This is not unprecedented as there are many examples both locally and regionally where the operations of an existing ongoing business were minimally impacted when they either modified the existing interior space for new use, or expanded into additional space built directly adjacent. I personally watched this happen at the Giant in Aspen Hill. They decided to acquire and expand into the old CVS location and did so without closing entirely, even for a day.

When NDC first shared with us that our only unloading option would be the lay by and we responded that it was unfeasible from a business perspective, they asked us to come up with a plan that would work for the Co-op. Our architect asked NDC to provide us with some basic parameters, such as how much developed space they would need to meet their projected ROI. We were told this information was unavailable, and we should just come up with something that worked for us. So we spent thousands of dollars and had our architectural firm come up with something that could provide access and egress for the trucks while maximizing the remaining developable space. NDC almost immediately rejected this plan.

We are surprised that Mr. Washington states, “We agree that this site plan would improve the operational efficiency of the Co-op (in our opinion marginally).” NDC has not studied how the Co-op does business and is not in a position to decide that an efficient unloading scenario would benefit us only “marginally.” He goes on to say that NDC does not feel this plan would be in the best interest of the City and the community and therefore does not support it. We at TPSS feel it is in the best interest of the City and our community to continue to provide the type of services we have provided for the past 35 years. During the past few years, we have heard people say they hope that the development will provide a place for people to bump into each other and chat and to feel a sense of place. The Co-op is already a gathering place for the community, with people stopping to chat under the awning, sitting and eating at the picnic tables outside, and catching up in aisles as they shop.

Towards the end of his update, Mr. Washington says that he will be asking TPSS to facilitate a meeting between the representatives of the Turner estate and NDC, as calls made by NDC to them have not been returned. At least a month ago, I spoke with the Matthews family and told them that NDC would like to discuss with them acquiring their building. They asked me to relay to NDC that they were not interested in selling the property or in any way damaging the long-term positive relationship they have had with the Co-op. I passed this information to NDC, who has subsequently, according to them, made additional phone calls that have gone unanswered. I have called the Matthews family twice in the past two weeks and left them messages urging them to respond directly to NDC. Of course, it is entirely up to our landlords, who continue to love the Takoma Park community although they are no longer located in the area and who have been unfailingly loyal to the Co-op and our needs, whether or not they want to pursue a conversation after they have let their feelings on the situation be known. We will not risk our relationship with them by pressing them further on this matter.

Soon after the RFP was released in January, 2014, I approached the City and asked that they keep in mind the small size of the lot and the Co-op’s viability need to have safe, efficient access to an unloading area for very big trucks. When six developers submitted proposals, I met with them to discuss Co-op participation in the development and review the delivery, parking, and business continuity needs. Several developers stated that the lot was too small to accommodate the trucks and their hoped for ROI. When the field was narrowed to four, I again met with them, including NDC. I again discussed the truck access needs. The field narrowed to two, and TPSS endorsed NDC’s plan, with an unloading scenario almost identical to what is in place now, which the Council then selected as the winning bid.

Since April, 2014, TPSS has spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours making every possible effort to work cooperatively with NDC to make Co-op expansion and Junction redevelopment a reality. We hired an architect, development consulting company, and real estate attorney to help us handle the process professionally and responsibly, and we were comfortable in the knowledge that it is City municipal code not to allow changes in provisions of a bid after the opening of bids that would affect “fair competition.” Had other bidders been given a chance to revise their post-award bids, they, too, might have proposed economic and/or different design elements that may have been better for the City and, hopefully, the Co-op. So we had no reason to even think that such radical changes as NDC now proposes would be considered or approved by the Council.

Thank you for your consideration.

Marilyn Berger
TPSS Co-op Expansion Project Manager

Responses to NDC Delivery Questions sent to City
November 13, 2016

The PDF of this document can be found here.

Responses to NDC Delivery Questions from UNFI rep.
Sent to Mayor Stewart and Deputy City manager Jason Damweber on November 13, 2016.

Is it possible to limit deliveries to only WB-50 or WB-53 trucks?

No, we can only use the larger trucks that we use now.

What are the typical delivery times for TPSS?

We deliver at approximately 6:00 am and it usually takes us about 1 hour to make the delivery by dropping pallets in your back room.

Is it possible to limit delivery times to off peak times?

Not sure what you are considering Off Peak…… but we already prioritize arriving at the best possible time for a Grocery Retailer.

How many deliveries to TPSS does UNFI typically make (weekly)?

We deliver 4 times per Week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Saturday.

Is it possible to consolidate deliveries?

No it is not. If anything….we would want to extend more delivery options as you grow. That is critical for you in order to grow your business on many fronts.

Does UNFI deliver to facilities without onsite loading?

Not sure about the question…… but we only deliver to stores/businesses directly. Some small volume stores do not have docks, so if we have to hand cart a delivery into those smaller stores, they will typically get their deliveries much later in the day as we have to prioritize large volume accounts for early and quick deliveries. TPSS is a large volume customer and delivering later in the day would severely negatively impact your business and our business.

How is this typically done?

I may have answered this with the previous question.

What is the maximum distance (tailgate to loading dock) that UNFI will load from?

Again I’m not sure I understand this question……but we don’t set a distance cap as much as we set a “time to service” cap. “Time to service” is the amount of time it takes us to make the delivery and get the driver back on their way. Stores that have long “TTS” (over 2 hours) have to get routed towards the end of truck runs because the time needed to deliver negatively impacts all of the other accounts/deliveries that are scheduled after that customer. These late day (between 10 am and 4 pm) deliveries are typically reserved for very small accounts or foodservice accounts. Your current TTS would be blown up to about 3 -4 hours for each delivery if your orders had to be transported over more than the few feet it takes now.

Would this result in a surcharge to the client (yes or no)? if so at what point?

Again we would not surcharge an account that has a long TTS factor but that account would have to start receiving their deliveries much later in the day (during their core retail hours) and the negative impact on everyone’s business would be enormous if it were an account the size of TPSS. Delivery and stocking would have to be during business hours, which would create a hazard for your customers, take away customer service time during your core business hours and generally defy every basic rule of Grocery store operations

As a note, because of your contractual agreements with UNFI through the NCG, we prioritize early AM deliveries as long as the deliveries can be made as efficiently as possible. So your cost of goods is dependent on our efficiency to service your account.

What is UNFI’s route to and from TPSS?

That’s proprietary and I can’t share that.

Can this be altered? What are the qualifications for suitable approaches?

I think I covered most of this question with the above answers……but the short answer is no. If we had to extend our TTS above 1 hour to 1.5 hours, we would have to re-route your delivery to the end of our delivery runs which would have a negative impact on your business ability to compete and grow….which would ultimately hurt our business. Also our approach is based on legal road access and safety.

Message sent to Mayor Stewart
July 28, 2016

The PDF of this document can be found here.

Message sent to Mayor Stewart July 28, asking that TPSS be allowed to submit updates as NDC was doing. TPSS received NO response to this.

The LDA calls for weekly updates on the status of LOI negotiations to be sent by NDC to Suzie. I think it would be beneficial to all if the Council also invited updates from the Co-op. As we have learned over the past year, recording of the same meeting by NDC and TPSS often varied considerably. It would be good for us to know that the Co-op’s take on things is also important to the Council, even though your agreement is between the City and NDC, as Jarrett has emphatically pointed out multiple times. Your thoughts?

Message sent to Council Member Kovar
July 14, 2016

The PDF of this document can be found here.

Message sent along with phasing diagrams produced by NDC


I am happy to provide everything I can.

Unfortunately, as I have written in my updates to the Council throughout the past year, TPSS requested updated plans many, many times so that we could work on resolving issues as they came up. It took a year to get the one we did receive in June. There is another one from June that does not have the drawings of the trucks on it, and I am attaching that. I think it would be very helpful for you to read the staging document also. If you think it would be useful, please share with your colleagues.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions or ideas,


Message sent to Council and City Staff
July 14, 2016

The PDF of this document can be found here.

Message sent along with NDC’s Loading Diagram of May 28 and their truck turning radius of May 23.

Dear Mayor Stewart and Council Members:

Although I understand and appreciate that the City has made a concerted effort to stay away from the details concerning the negotiation of an LOI between the Co-op and NDC, I thought it might be useful for you to have for your reference, and hopefully your review, the two site plans attached. The first plan accompanied NDC's May 28, 2014 response to the RFP. In NDC's original site plan, the 18 wheelers making deliveries to the Co-op would enter the property as they do now, head for the rear of the lot, and back into a loading dock directly connected to the expanded area of the Co-op. The Co-op endorsed this site plan because it specifically and adequately addressed our operational needs.

The other attachment to this email is the latest site plan NDC shared with us a month ago. NDC's radically different plan, which is the permanent plan, not a temporary solution during construction, shows our delivery trucks unloading out in the open in a traffic cutout off Carroll Avenue. Eighteen-wheel trucks make deliveries to the Co-op SEVEN days a week. As many as 11 large pallets of products, weighing thousands of pounds, are delivered at one time. Except for produce, the pallets are wrapped in plastic, so they would have to be unloaded in the area along the street, unwrapped, broken apart, and then manually carted while exposed to the weather, traveling over a hundred feet before reaching an entrance to the expanded Co-op. This procedure would be prohibitively time- and labor-consuming and could easily result in damage to products making them unsaleable.

Having these documents might help you to understand the depth of our current concerns about having an efficient, effective means of receiving products, and, therefore, staying in business.

I was perplexed Wednesday night to hear Councilmember Seamens state that he "heard this evening a lack of enthusiasm for mediation" on the Co-op's part (1:59:54 into the session). I don't know what prompted this statement and must assume it was a misunderstanding of some kind. The Co-op has never been opposed to having a third party involved in an effort to resolve our concerns over the loading dock and business continuity issues which would then enable the Co-op to make progress on the remainder of the business issues in the LOI. Well before yesterday's meeting, our attorney, Ed West had mentioned to your outside counsel, Doug Bregman, that some third-party assistance might be very useful in helping NDC's and the Co-op's reaching mutual agreement on the loading dock and business continuity issues. After Mr. Bregman left a July 1st voicemail for Mr.West in which he offered to serve in that capacity or otherwise be useful in helping reach resolution, Mr. West left a voicemail that night and later replied (due to the holiday) in an 11am July 6th email to Mr.Bregman that: " we sit down with NDC and you [Mr. Bregman] to discuss the seemingly intractable business issues [arising from ] NDC's proposal about the Co-op's having to permanently hand-truck items from the proposed traffic cut." Mr. West called Mr. Bregman yesterday morning (July 7th) to chat further about Mr. Bregman's offer and left him a voicemail; but as of 9:55am today, July 8th, Mr. Bregman has not returned Mr. West's call.

We remain anxious to work with NDC to resolve the loading dock and business continuity issues.

Marilyn Berger
Expansion Project Manager
Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op
201 Ethan Allen Avenue
Takoma Park MD 20912

TPSS Co-op Update to City Council
June 7, 2016

The PDF of this document can be found here.

June 7, 2016

Dear Mayor Stewart and Members of the City Council:

The following is an update on TPSS/NDC discussions and collaborative efforts since the summary I sent to you on May 19. Thank you for taking the time to review. As always, please contact me with any questions you may have.

On May 23, 2015, we at the Co-op were gratified to receive a site plan from NDC. With it came a request to check with our distributors once again to be sure that the development would have to accommodate 65-foot delivery trucks. We immediately contacted the two distributors who deliver products to the Co-op several times a week, and both confirmed that, due to the fact that they deliver to multiple companies in addition to the Co-op using the same truck and they have to travel some distance (our produce distributor travels over 100 miles to get to Takoma Park), it would not be economically feasible for them to send smaller trucks just to us. Because NDC’s solution to the delivery issue during construction is that we use the Sycamore Avenue parking lot, we asked an experienced UNFI driver to try to pull into and out of the lot. He said he would not even attempt it because it was obvious to him that if he could pull in, he would get stuck trying to get out.

As has been the case since the RFP was issued two and a half years ago, access to a loading dock continues to remain our biggest challenge. The latest NDC plan calls for a cutout on Carroll Avenue directly in front of the new development (where the bus stop and BikeShare now are). NDC has proposed that this cutout will serve as the desired community space when there is no delivery taking place.

I sent a first round of questions to NDC in response to the site plan and was told to expect answers by May 31. To keep you informed, I have copied those questions below. We continue to eagerly await NDC’s answers and comments so that we can move closer to our goal of expanding our facility.


• It appears that you are saying that the only viable loading option is the pull-off on Carroll. From the site plan, it looks as though the trucks will have to pull in from and egress into the left lane of two heading east. (1)Am I reading this correctly? (2) If so, how will it work with traffic heavy in all directions, including not just Carroll/Ethan Allen, but Sycamore and Grant, and traffic lights? (3) If more than one truck arrives at the same time, where would the second truck wait? (4)What kind of public gathering space are you anticipating in the cutout area? I can’t visualize how that area can also be a people place.

• The plan still calls for the loading area to be in the Sycamore lot during construction. All studies NDC has provided so far show that the trucks cannot safely enter and leave that lot given the narrowness of the streets and the acute angles 65 foot truck would need to execute. Is there something new that you considered?

• I’m terrible at reading diagrams, but it appears to me that the elevator as you show it does not go down to the parking level.

• The 65 foot trucks loaded with cans, gallons of water, etc. will be pulling onto the roof of the lower level of the parking garage. Doesn’t the cost get prohibitive to accomplish this safely?

• I am having a hard time visualizing the back of the store in relation to the development. In the drawing, you show the current Co-op as a rectangle, with the future possible back of the house area with mechanical room above it on the same plane as the back of the current Co-op building. If this is so, then the development would have to include a significant part of the wooded area. At one point, I believe NDC was considering asking the City to split the lot into developable area and slope, which would not be disturbed. Have the plans changed?

• Could you please add to the plan to show where the traffic lights at the Junction are located? To me, it looks as though trucks pulling out of the cutout will be going onto Ethan Allen right in the middle of the intersection of all the roads, across two and maybe more lanes of traffic. Your thoughts?

• Do you know if any utility lines or pipes that serve the Co-op run under the municipal lot and would be impacted by construction?

Marilyn Berger, Expansion Project Manager

TPSS Co-op Update to City Council
April 25, 2016

The PDF of this document can be found here.

April 25, 2016

Dear Mayor Stewart and Members of the City Council:

Following my presentation to the Council on March 23 providing the TPSS perspective on the status of a possible Letter of Intent to occupy space in the proposed development on the municipal lot, several Council members asked me to reach out with periodic updates. While I understand that the details have been shared with Douglas Bregman, in response to your request, below is a summary of the current status and what has happened up to this point.

A month ago, I shared with Council our disappointment that two years after the RFP was issued and almost an entire year after NDC was selected, the Co-op had not had one substantive discussion with the developer about how TPSS business continuity needs will be addressed during construction. Unfortunately, that statement remains true today. Here is a brief timeline of critical communications:

• Our efforts to address Co-op survival during development began long before NDC was selected. In July, 2014, we asked City staff to consider how developer candidates would address the business continuity needs of the Co-op during construction.
• October, 2014, we contacted the four remaining developer finalists at Council request and briefly outlined Co-op business continuity needs of safe, easy, unimpeded access to the store loading dock for delivery, trash, recycling, and compost trucks; safe, accessible parking for TPSS staff and customers and visitors at the other businesses in the Junction; easy entrance into and exit from the store throughout the development process; and long-term stability in any expansion space that we might occupy.
• March 3, 2015, during a period when we were meeting with potential developers, we invited NDC to meet with us to discuss their latest proposal and how we could work together to address the Co-op’s needs for access to our loading dock, parking, and business continuity during and after construction.
• June, 2015, NDC requested a detailed listing of anything the Co-op might want or need in the expanded space. Within weeks, we responded with a document clearly labeled a draft-in-progress, as we knew there would be many areas to be discussed, with compromises and adjustments made as we worked together. Some areas we expected to discuss at length during the months to come were the amount of parking and the configuration of the loading dock.
• November 3, 2015, TPSS finally heard back from NDC, who responded to the document with three questions we answered the following week. We still have not begun the discussions this document was supposed to initiate.
• March 30, 2016 NDC and TPSS met. The Co-op had requested that we use this meeting to pay particular attention to the incorporation of responses to each of the items raised in the document we had provided in July and business continuity including access to the loading dock, trash collection, and parking during and after construction. Unfortunately, NDC did not discuss these issues at this meeting, and they have not been addressed as of this time.
• April 11, the COO and the chief engineer from NDC visited the site, and I was told that this was the first-ever on-site visit by any NDC engineer.
• April 13 we received a message from NDC saying they would get back to us with information from their traffic engineer concerning truck turning radii. We await this information.

NDC has repeatedly requested that we include the TPSS development consultant, Development Cooperative, in our meetings. Our consultants cannot participate in any discussions in a meaningful way without a site plan from which to work. As of today, we have not received such a plan.

TPSS continues to do everything we can to reach an agreement with NDC that guarantees our business continuity throughout and after construction. Anything less could jeopardize the livelihood of our 43 employees and their families. We are spending thousands of dollars for attorney and consultant services, and hope for a positive outcome.

Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions or comments.

Yours truly,

Marilyn Berger

Expansion Project Manager

TPSS Presentation to the City Council
March 23, 2016

The PDF of this document can be found here.

I do not usually read my presentations, but this is such an important and emotional issue, I want to be sure I cover everything in the allotted time. The Co-op is the only entity in this entire project whose very existence, and with it the livelihood of 43 wonderful employees, hangs in the balance. We are not trying to impede development, but we are trying to ensure that the Co-op is here to serve our community long after the Junction revitalization is completed.

First, I would like to thank the Mayor and Council for arranging this special time for us to share our experiences. Your decision to do this without any request from the Co-op demonstrates your desire to listen to and evaluate all perspectives so that we can move forward.

When Takoma Park issued a resolution last April naming NDC as the developer for Takoma Junction, we were especially grateful to the Council for showing your strong support by including the need for the developer to establish a mutually acceptable working relationship with the Co-op “that assures its current and future operational and expansion needs.” The resolution also noted that NDC has indicated it will work to assure the Co-op’s continuity of operations during construction.”

The Council has shared the same hopes we have had for an early agreement between NDC and the Co-op regarding the Co-op’s long-term role as an anchor tenant in an expanded structure at the Junction. Of course the Co-op has been anxious for an early agreement on our role, as it was our interest in expanding onto the lot that helped to lead to the issuing of the RFP. We are greatly disappointed that two years after the RFP was issued and almost an entire year after NDC was selected, the Co-op has not had one substantive discussion with the developer about how our business continuity needs will be addressed during construction. If we cannot agree upon a way to remain open during the year and a half NDC predicts it will take, the Co-op will die. This is not over dramatization. This is a business reality.

Our efforts to address Co-op survival during development began long before NDC was selected. Way back in July, 2014, I asked City staff to consider how developer candidates would address the business continuity needs of the Co-op during construction. I wrote: “I just want to be sure the delivery lifeline to the Co-op remains on the City's radar.” In October, 2014, I wrote to the four remaining finalists: “At their meeting on September 29, the Takoma Park City Council expressed their strong support for the continued viability and growth of the Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-op during and after any development that takes place on the lot adjacent to the store. They asked me to put together a list to send to the four finalists of what TPSS absolutely requires in order to assure business continuity during and after construction. I listed
1. Safe, easy, unimpeded access to the store loading dock for delivery, trash, recycling, and compost trucks.
2. Safe, accessible parking for TPSS staff and customers and visitors at the other businesses in the Junction. Grocery customers must be able to bring carts to their cars for loading their purchases.
3. Easy entrance into and exit from the store throughout the process.
4. Long-term stability in any expansion space that we might occupy.

On March 3, 2015, during a period when we were meeting with potential developers, I wrote to NDC: “Our Expansion Team would like to invite you to meet with us to discuss your latest proposal and how we can work together to address the Co-op’s needs for access to our loading dock, parking, and business continuity during and after construction.”

Moving forward from survival needs during construction to business needs after construction, last June, NDC requested a detailed listing of anything the Co-op might want or need in the expanded space. Within weeks, we responded with a document clearly labeled a draft –in-progress, as we knew there would be many areas to be discussed, with compromises and adjustments made as we worked together. Some areas we expected to discuss at length during the months to come were the amount of parking and the configuration of the loading dock. TPSS did not receive any feedback from NDC for four months, and we still have not begun the discussions this document was supposed to initiate.

By the way, we have heard some misinformation circulating about the specifications we shared in July. The biggest one with the most impact is that we have requested FOUR loading docks. We have one loading dock now, and it works fine for us. What we requested was safe and easy access to a loading dock for trucks ranging in size from small pickups to large 18-wheelers.

We have also heard it suggested that the answer to the loading dock issue is for the Co-op delivery trucks to unload on the street the way Ace Hardware does. Ace receives two deliveries from 18-wheelers a week. The Co-op currently receives 11, and this amount will increase if our retail space doubles. Ace Hardware’s location cannot be compared to ours. Can you imagine what it will be like to have 18-wheelers stopped in front of the Co-op while they unload? The traffic is horrendous now. What would it be like then? And we are really striving for a plan that will keep all of our delivery trucks off neighboring residential streets.

I am sure you are wondering what has been discussed during our meetings with NDC since last April. Most of the time has been devoted to reviewing the latest project schedules. While our meetings have been most cordial, we have not spoken about the issues that are of most concern to us. Of course we asked to talk about these issues, but NDC explained that they were not going to spend any money on addressing them until they had a signed agreement with the City. This is understandable, as NDC is a business that cannot afford to spend a great deal of its own money before it has assurance that it will pay off. However, it did leave us in a quandary, as TPSS is also a business that needs to stay open to succeed.

Prior to our meeting three weeks ago, NDC asked if the Co-op had any items for the agenda. I responded that we would particularly like to cover:
• Latest iteration of NDC plans, with particular attention to the incorporation of responses to each of the items raised in the document we had provided in July and business continuity including access to the loading dock, trash collection, and parking during and after construction
• Update on the LDA with the city,
• Update on geotechnical, fire flow, traffic, and other studies.
• Latest timeline.

We did review NDC’s latest project timeline and an update on the status of the LDA. The studies are pending. But no mention was made of the document from last summer or the business continuity issues.

During their presentation on March 16, NDC confirmed that they had not, as yet, presented the Co-op with a draft letter of intent. In fact, there has been NO mention in any of our discussions of an LOI since last fall, when we reviewed the LOI between Yes Organic Market and NDC for occupancy in a building in Washington. At that time, our position was that we could not draft a letter of intent until we had a better idea of how the Co-op would stay open during the construction and how Co-op operations would ultimately fit into the overall development.

The Council has emphasized your desire for the Co-op and NDC to agree on a letter of intent so that the LDA can be finalized. We are anxious to cooperate in any way we can, but from a sound business perspective, we need to start with an agreed upon plan to keep the Co-op open and accessible during construction. We would also like to begin discussions on the issues raised in the July document in order to establish a relationship with NDC of mutual trust and collaboration and to be sure that our operational needs are being seriously considered.

We at the Co-op continue to hope for a quick and positive resolution of the issues before us so that we can form the three-legged redevelopment stool, consisting of the City, NDC, and TPSS, to which Council member Schultz referred months ago.

Marilyn Berger

TPSS Construction Specifications for Developer shared with City
January 2016

The PDF of this document can be found here.

NCG Development Co-op
July 10, 2015

Purpose of this Document

Takoma Park – Silver Spring Co-op (TPSS) is looking to work with the Developer of the adjacent lot to expand their store as part of the Developer’s mixed use development. This document is intended to give the prospective developer a general overview of the requirements of TPSS (herein the Tenant):
• Specific site requirements
• The Tenant’s facility profile and construction requirements
No attempt is made here to delineate what are the Developer’s responsibilities versus the Tenant’s, nor specify items that could be included in a Tenant Construction Allowance provided by the Developer.
The requirements listed are very preliminary and do not represent actual plans and specifications, nor should they be used in the final agreement language. They do not take the place of architectural plans and specifications, which must be mutually approved by both Developer and Tenant prior to construction.

General Project Scope

The expansion project shall incorporate the Tenant’s existing 5,500 sq. ft. building with an adjacent 6,000 sq. ft. space provided by the Developer of the “Takoma Junction” mixed-use development.
The Tenant’s existing space shall be completely renovated, reformatted, and refixtured to help create the new store layout. The project shall also include some site work of the Tenant’s current property.

Site Requirements

a) The visibility of current Tenant-occupied building shall not be compromised by the new construction.
b) The addition to the Tenant’s space shall have frontage to the street extending the visibility of the store.

a) Site shall have efficient ingress and egress for both customer traffic and delivery vehicles, which include 65’ long Semi Tractor-Trailers.

a) Site shall include a minimum of 6 dedicated parking spaces per 1,000 per sq. ft. of the Tenant’s retail area or as required by local code. Tenant projects to have 8,000 sq. ft. in retail area. Since the Tenant’s current site includes 17 parking spaces, an additional 30-35 spaces, dedicated to co-op shoppers, shall be included in the new development.
b) Handicap parking shall be included as required.
c) Access to any parking not visible from the street shall be clearly identifiable and near the front of the store.
d) Parking shall be formatted so that customers experience easy navigation between the store and their vehicles.
e) The distance between the closest parking spaces and the storefront shall be no more than thirty feet (30’).
f) Two cart corrals shall be permanently placed in the parking lot within 75 ft. +/– of the main entrance.

a) Receiving area shall accommodate at least (1) Semi Trailer Truck and (3) Straight Trucks at one time.
b) Access and egress to the truck parking area shall be unimpeded and allow for backing up and turning radii.

a) Site shall include an enclosure for waste, recycling, and cardboard bale storage.
b) This enclosure shall be convenient to the store’s back room operations and easily accessible by haulers.

a) Exterior parking lot lighting shall provide an average minimum illumination level of four (4) to five (5) foot-candles per Sq. Ft. or as according to local code.
b) Parking and security lighting shall be photocell initiated and time clock terminated.

a) The site shall allow for or mitigate any noise from Tenant machinery, refrigerated trucks or Tenant operations.
b) Noise levels shall not exceed local code or acceptable noise invasion as perceived by people in neighboring residences or commercial buildings.

8) FRONT OF STORE FEATURES (Using current front of store space)
a) Site Plan shall include an outdoor Eating/Seating Area with seating for twenty four (24), convenient to the store’s customer entry/exit.
b) Space for an outdoor marketplace area of 300 Sq. Ft. shall be included in vicinity of the entry/exit.
c) Front of store shall include a 20’ long Bicycle Rack

Building Requirements - Shell

a) New construction shall add approximately 6,000 Sq. Ft. in net interior area.
b) The new construction shall be integrated with the existing store through at least 80% removal of the Tenant’s West wall. New floor level will match that of the existing Tenant floor.
c) Ground floor shall be on grade at points of customer entry and exit. If that is not possible, the building shall include all ramps and clearances to comply with ADA regulations.
d) The new structure shall have interior open height of 13’-6” from deck to bottom of joists at its lowest point. This shall match the ceiling height of the existing Tenant building.
e) Building shall include an interior ladder and hatch to access the roof or other way to provide access to the Tenant’s rooftop machinery.

a) Structural columns shall be in a grid no smaller than 25’ x 25’.
b) Chases for mechanical systems or roof drainage shall be kept to a minimum in number and size, and located in coordination with the Tenant’s plans.

a) Roof of new structure shall be considered flat, with appropriate pitch for drainage.
b) Roof shall be reinforced to support Tenant’s rooftop HVAC and refrigeration units per Tenant’s plans.

a) Roof shall be insulated to achieve a minimum of an R-30 insulation value or as required per code, whichever is greater.
b) Exterior walls shall maintain an insulation value of no less than R-19 or as required per code.
c) Windows shall meet or exceed the insulation requirement of current building codes.

a) Tenant shall perform on-grade receiving with optional use of a forklift/unloader.
b) Trucks shall back into a dock shelter of approximately 12’ wide x 8’ deep. Shelter may be built into the shell of the building or extend out from it.
c) Overhead receiving door shall be a commercial grade metal door with a clear opening of 8’ wide x 8’ high.
d) Building shall be protected from trucks through use of bollards
e) Receiving area shall also include one insulated metal hinged door 3’ wide x 7’ high.

a) Automatic entry and exit sliding doors shall be provided per plans mutually approved by Developer and Tenant. Doors shall include emergency break-away feature.
b) Glazed transom above the doors to approximately 10 feet above finished floor.
c) All glass on store entries and storefront to be tempered and insulated.
d) Additional glass storefront door(s) as located and sized per plans, and as required by code.
e) Hose bibb near main entry, in a location approved by Tenant.

a) Building shall have full-view windows adjacent to the store’s Front End and Deli Seating Area per the Tenant’s plans. Sill height shall be 3’-6”.
b) Clerestory windows shall be placed above store fixtures per the Tenant’s plans.

a) Building “skin” shall be mutually agreed upon by Tenant and Developer and shall meet local building code.
b) Building shall incorporate a decorative façade that carries through from the Tenant’s current building.
c) Building front and entrance shall be protected by a canopy overhang a minimum of 12’ high running the entire width of the building. This shall be sprinklered if required by code.
d) Under canopy area shall be lighted to achieve no less than 30-foot candles of illumination at 3 feet above the walkway along building front.
e) Building shall be equipped with security lighting on all sides of the building.

Building Requirements – Interior

a) Raised mechanical platform shall be located at the back of the building. Platform shall be approximately 12’ x 36’, 10’ AFF, and capable of supporting 200 lbs. PSF. This will house the store’s refrigeration system, water heaters and other mechanical systems.
b) Head room shall be a minimum of 90” from platform floor to bottom of roof joist.
c) Platform shall include framed walls to the roof deck and shall be air tight. All doors shall include air tight gaskets.
d) Platform room shall be ventilated via fan and intake louver to exhaust 10,000 to 12,000 CFM.
e) Room shall include access to the roof for maintenance of roof top equipment.
f) Steel frame work shall be mounted to the building structural steel above the Mechanical Platform to support tenant’s remote refrigeration condensers. Framework shall extend a minimum of 24” above the roof deck.

a) Ceiling be an open structure-ceiling cavity with a clear height between floor slab and deck of no less than 13’- 6”. Open ceiling shall otherwise be governed by structural design per code and in accordance with the Plans and to meet Tenant’s approval.
b) All exposed deck, structure and mechanical components shall be painted. Any exposed HVAC duct shall be metal duct, with interior insulation and shall be painted.
c) Fabric duct sox shall be used in the sales floor area in specified locations.

a) There shall be two (2) single occupancy public restrooms and (2) single occupancy employee-only rest rooms on the Ground Floor in accordance with the Tenant’s plans and designs.

a) The Tenant’s rooms in the new and existing buildings shall include, in approximate size:
• 8,000 Sq. Ft. sales area (including any indoor seating)
• 1,200 Sq. Ft. food prep rooms (Kitchen, Meat Handling, and Produce Prep)
• 1,800 Sq. Ft general backroom (Receiving, Storage, Walk-ins)
• 500 Sq. Ft. other (restrooms, offices, hallways)

a) HVAC installation shall include all ductwork.
b) HVAC equipment shall be sufficient to provide a minimum of one (1) ton of cooling per four hundred (400) square feet of sales area and (1) CFM per square foot of sales area with supply air and air returns as required per the Plans and to meet Tenant’s approval.
c) Insulated ducts or fabric Duct Sox shall be used in areas of the painted open structure ceilings.
d) HVAC shall maintain in the sales area and throughout the year a temperature of 72º Fahrenheit and a relative humidity level between 50 and 55%.
e) Gas furnace shall be supplied where natural gas is available.
f) Suspended Modine type heaters shall be installed at receiving door and stock room to maintain no less than sixty- five (65) degrees Fahrenheit during heating season.
g) Receiving area shall not be air-conditioned.
h) HVAC controls shall be of adequate quantity and quality to meet specifications above, and located per the plans. Units to be rooftop mounted per the plans and shall meet Tenant’s Approval.
i) Equipment type shall be “Seasons Four” or equivalent. Package units to be Lennox or equivalent.
j) Equipment shall be supplied with Natural Gas heating when available.
k) De-stratification fans shall be furnished in the sales area ceiling structure suspended at approximately 30” below the ceiling deck.

a) Per Tenant’s plans, chases and ductwork shall be provided for store-supplied kitchen and equipment hoods, make up air systems, and treated air systems.

a) Automatic entrances shall be equipped with air curtain fly fans on exterior and interior doors.
b) Overhead receiving doors and all pass doors to the outside other than legal exits shall be equipped with air curtain fly fans.

a) Electrical service shall be to the Tenant’s individual meter.
b) Electrical shall be 800 amp, 208 volt, 3 phase service (actual service size to be determined by approved mechanical plans)
c) Developer shall furnish all switch gear and proper distribution panels to all:
i) HVAC equipment
ii) Interior and exterior lighting and signage
iii) Building equipment
iv) Tenants’ fixtures and equipment
d) Wiring and electrical distribution systems shall include both line voltage and low voltage wiring systems.
e) Building shall include a generator capable of retaining Tenant’s electrical needs in a power outage.

d) Grocery Sales Area
i) General illumination: LED high bay fixtures to achieve no less than 70 foot candles.
ii) LED track fixtures and specific aisle lighting to achieve 120 fc on product displays.
e) Stock Room
i) T-5 fluorescent lighting in storeroom to render an illumination level of no less than 50-foot candles. Lamps shall be protected by a metal guard or cage.

a) Floors shall be of concrete slab (smooth finish) on grade, no less than 5” thick: finished as to allow floor coverings by per the plans.
b) Slab shall be recessed under the walk-in freezers to allow for in-slab insulation.
c) Floor Finishes:
i) Sales Area: polished, stained concrete per tenant’s plans.
ii) Prep areas and Walk-in Coolers: Shall be finished in a two-part epoxy or quarry tile.
iii) Stock Room and Walk-in Freezers: Shall be bare concrete with three coats urethane based concrete sealer.

a) Shall be sheet rocked with sound batten, taped & spackled, with two coats of semi-gloss latex paint per tenant’s specification.
b) Walls in prep area shall be:
i) Sheet rocked with water proof sheet rock to a minimum of 4’ AFF.
ii) Backed with plywood from 4’ to 8’ AFF in designated areas to allow for wall-mounted shelving.
iii) Finished with ceramic tile and/or FRP.
c) Perimeter walls in the Sales Area shall feature soffits and bulkheads per Tenant’s design.

a) All under floor sanitary lines with the man discharge trunk being no less than six inches (6”) in diameter with properly engineered slope and separate grease line system running to a exterior grease trap.
b) Approximately twenty (20) four inch (4”) condensate drains for tenant’s refrigeration equipment located per plan.
c) Four inch (4”) wide trench drains of varying lengths located in each of tenant’s Meat, Produce, Deli, and Bakery Prep Rooms per plan. These would include a strainer and proper floor slope to drain.
d) Sewer and water supply with necessary back flow preventers for approximately twelve (12] tenant supplied stainless steel compartment sinks and hand sinks. Tempering valves on all hand sinks as required by code.
e) All water lines to sinks shall include isolation valves in close proximity to each sink.
f) Incoming domestic water supply line shall be no less than a 2” line.
g) Exterior grease trap with separate grease drainage system where required by code.
h) Two 24”x 24” floor mounted janitor’s sinks installed with faucet and hardware.
i) 120 gallon gas hot water heater connected to a 120 gallon water tank of water preheated by the refrigeration system (hot water reclaim tank supplied by Tenant).
j) All materials and installation to accommodate restrooms as outlined above.
k) Two exterior frost proof hose bibs with security handles located per plan.
i) One exterior frost proof hose bibs with security handles located per plan at rear of store adjacent to trash compactor.
ii) One exterior frost proof hose bib with security handles located per plan on the roof adjacent to refrigeration remote condensers.

a) Air conditioned/heated weatherproof vestibule per Tenant’s plans, with two sets of automatic entrances including all aluminum and glass work.
b) Doors shall be bi-parting sliders (minimum of 4’ clear opening) with electronic door operators and motion detectors and fly fan over each door per Tenant’s plans and applicable code.

a) Exit doors shall have hardware and closure as per the Plans and applicable codes.
b) Emergency doors shall be include security devices as per the Plans and specifications and applicable codes.

a) Developer will provide all sprinkler work, emergency lighting, and exit signs in accordance with the plans, and any other related fire protection work as per local, state and Federal codes.

a) Any utility conduits (electrical, HVAC, water, etc.) installed for the benefit of any tenant and running through the Leased Premises shall be installed above Tenant’s lowered ceiling or along under side of roof deck and located as close to the back wall of the Leased Premises as possible. Developer shall provide for unobstructed clear height for suspended ceiling of no less than fourteen feet (14’) for Tenant’s Sales area and full clear height in Tenant’s Stock Area or to meet Tenant’s approval.

a) All utilities shall be individually metered to Tenant’s Leased Premises by applicable utility company.
b) Water, however, may be sub-metered at Developer’s expense.
c) Developer shall be responsible for any assessment, (special or otherwise) or related costs for service, permits, water and sewer rents, rates, charges, fees and impact fees, including water and sewer connection and/or hook-up charges.


In keeping with the philosophy of the City of Takoma Park and the TPSS mission of caring for the environment, it is hoped that the Developer will utilize the philosophy of Sustainable Design and implement as many of its principles as possible including minimization of energy consumption with a focus on eliminating those energy sources that are non-renewable; protection and conservation of all water; and provision of the most healthy indoor environment possible for the occupants. It is hoped that the Developer will maximize the use of recycled products, renewable materials, and local materials to shrink the embodied energy footprint.

Letter to Council
March 12 2015

The PDF of this document can be found here.

March 12, 2015

Dear Members of the Takoma Park City Council:

On behalf of the members and staff of the Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op, I would like to thank you all once again for putting the Co-op’s continued success, expansion and business continuity needs at the top of your list of priorities for the redevelopment of the municipal parking lot. We would also like to thank you for meeting with the Expansion Team in closed session on March 2. Your support, expressed both in public and in our private conversations, has been incredible. It is very gratifying to us that members of Council and the Mayor have stated repeatedly that the Co-op, as the anchor of any development, will be integrally involved in the planning process as it moves forward.

Last week, we invited representatives of Keystar and Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC) to meet with our Expansion Team individually to discuss their very latest proposals and to brainstorm about solutions to the issues of loading dock access, parking, and business continuity during and after construction and to explore the various options for the Co-op to own or rent the expansion piece of the development. We were hopeful that during these conversations, we would be able to determine the amount of flexibility and cooperation each developer finalist was willing to offer TPSS and, by extension, the community, as we try to work through the issues and the process as a whole.

It was reassuring that both developers agreed to meet with us as soon as schedules permitted, and members of our team met with NDC Tuesday, March 10 and Keystar Wednesday, March 11. Both groups shared their most recent plans as presented to Council. NDC gave us access to their original response to the RFP and their responses to further requests for information from the City. We were pleased to note that their original proposal addressed in a very preliminary way access to and egress from the loading dock for the 18-wheelers that deliver our goods. They also addressed in their original response the option of a condominium arrangement for the Co-op’s expansion space, which, as you know, is preferable to a lease arrangement for us. Their desire to work with us to resolve all issues was quite heartening.

When we left the closed session with Council, we did not have a clear understanding of what the next steps in the process would be, so we asked Keystar and NDC if they had any definitive information. It was confusing to hear from NDC that they had no more information on next steps than the Co-op did, yet Keystar told us that they had heard that Council would be making a final selection within 10 days. Another area of confusion concerned housing. NDC said they had removed the housing component of their proposal because the Council had urged them to do so, while Keystar has retained over 20 housing units in their proposal. Both of these areas of confusion have a direct impact on TPSS, the first because we sincerely hope that you will consider our experiences with the two developers as you make your decision and the second because the massing of development has a direct effect on whether space will be allocated for access to a loading dock.

Please let me know if you would like us to provide more information on anything. It would also be most helpful if you could clarify the anticipated time frame for the next steps in the process.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Yours truly,

Marilyn Berger

TPSS Expansion Project Manager

Letter sent to 4 developer finalists at Council Request October 2014
October 3, 2014

The PDF of this document can be found here.

The PDF of this document can be found here.

October 3, 2014

Dear Prospective Municipal Parking Lot Developer:

At their meeting on September 29, the Takoma Park City Council expressed their strong support for the continued viability and growth of the Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-op during and after any development that takes place on the lot adjacent to the store. They asked me to put together a list to send to the four finalists of what TPSS absolutely requires in order to assure business continuity during and after construction. Below please find that list:

1. Safe, easy, unimpeded access to the store loading dock. TPSS receives deliveries seven days a week. Up to four 18-wheel trucks arrive regularly throughout the week, sometimes two or three at the same time, with smaller vehicles appearing throughout the day. The majority of 18-wheeler deliveries occur between 5:30-8:30 a.m. We have no control over the arrival time of our biggest distributors. Some 18-wheelers originate in Pennsylvania, so weather and road conditions can delay their arrival at TPSS.

Delivery trucks currently enter the parking lot via the driveway on Carroll Avenue. They drive towards the back of the lot and follow a semi-circular route that allows them to then back into our loading dock area. The clearance needed to do this is about 25 feet. They then egress by completing the near-circle and returning to Carroll Avenue.

The same access is needed for trash, recycling, and compost pickup. At the end of this memo, you fill find a photo taken this morning of two of the trucks backed up to the loading dock.

2. Safe, accessible parking for staff, customers, and shoppers at the other businesses in the Junction. TPSS customers must be able to bring carts to their cars for loading their purchases.

3. Easy entrance into and exit from the store throughout the process.

4. Long-term stability (whether ownership or long-term lease similar to our current property) over any expansion space that we occupy.

I look forward to working with you as you prepare the next iteration of your site plans to incorporate the business continuity needs of the Co-op.

Yours truly,

Marilyn Berger, Project Manager

Trucks Unloading at TPSS Co-op