All lit up, the new CVS will definitely be a presence on Georgia Avenue
Since November 12, 2009, I’ve been watching the new CVS at Georgia and New Hampshire Avenues rise with interest. Yet it was not until one night last week that I realize that one of the most significant impacts this building will have on the neighborhood will be at night. I hadn’t even considered the possibility of light pollution.
As you can see from the photographs here, the major area impacted by the illumination of CVS at night is along Georgia Avenue. The more residential New Hampshire Avenue facade of the building has smaller windows and, as a result, less light bleeding outside of the building.
While the definition of light pollution varies a little depending upon where you find it, one definition used by the National Park Service is: Principally, the illumination of the night sky caused by artificial light sources, decreasing the visibility of stars and other natural sky phenomena. Also includes other incidental or obtrusive aspects of outdoor lighting such as glare, trespass into areas not needing lighting, use in areas where or at times when lighting is not needed, and disturbance of the natural nighttime landscape.
The nighttime presence of CVS in contrast to the largely dark Park Place development to the north
In using the NPS definition it’s safe to say that there is some light pollution occurring. However, most of the nighttime illumination spilling from the CVS could actually be considered beneficial by some since it will help light the sidewalk area.
When all is taken into account, the reality is that this new addition to Georgia Avenue looks as lit up as it is mainly because nothing else around it is lit up at all. The businesses across Georgia Avenue barely cast off any evening light, the retail spaces at the Park Place development are mostly empty with the exception being a restaurant having low lighting, and the Metro station and streets rely on traditional street lighting. Likewise, the buildings directly to the south are also largely dark in the evening.
When taking the number and types of businesses surrounding the CVS into account, and factoring in the slow speed of development along Georgia Avenue, it’s a good bet that the closest neighbors CVS will have that rival its luminosity (such as the Safeway at 3830 Georgia) will be a minimum of two blocks away for many years to come.