The developer of a proposed apartment complex just north of Wall Park and the Shriver Aquatic Center in North Bethesda faces a number of hurdles before construction can begin.
Besides the typical approval process, Atlanta-based developer Gables Residential must wait for Montgomery County to design and fund a new road network and work out an agreement with the Montgomery County Department of Parks on the funding and operation of a parking garage that would serve both apartment residents and Wall Park visitors.
Gables Regional Vice President Jorgen Punda and architects presented the Sketch Plan to community members in a required public meeting on Tuesday. The Sketch Plan envisions three 70-foot-tall apartment buildings that would include 450 to 500 units on top of 30,000 square feet of ground floor retail, courtyards and a parking garage.
That garage is a key part of the developer’s plan and the future of Wall Park, which the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan envisions as the major park and green space for a rapidly developing White Flint. The area today includes a small park, the Shriver Aquatic Center and 250 parking spaces.
Punda said the company has agreed to reserve 250 parking spots in its garage for Montgomery Parks and another 150 spaces to accomodate a future planned recreation center. The existing 250 spaces in the park would be replaced with park functions that are still being designed.
Park planner coordinator Rachel Newhouse took suggestions for possible park features during the meeting.
Attorney Stephen Kaufman, who is representing Gables out of Bethesda-based firm Linowes and Blocher, said the plan is for Gables to provide the land for the garage. It would be up to Montgomery County to pay for its construction. Kaufman suggested the county could use payments Gables will have to make into a general development fund.
Newhouse said Parks hopes to go to the Planning Board at the same time Gables does with a concept plan for the park. The garage will include about 590 spaces reserved for residents and retail use.
It appears neither can go forward without a resolution to the Western Workaround. Gables can only start the project once Executive Boulevard is realigned and Market Street is built, making the existing triangular lot into a bigger rectangular one.
Montgomery County has been negotiating with the State Highway Administration on design aspects of the new street grid’s intersections. The county must also purchase important right-of-way from the vacant car dealerships on the south side of Old Georgetown Road, a process Kaufman said the developer hopes will accelerate when it files its Sketch Plan in June.
Once construction starts, Punda said it should be 18 to 20 months until the apartments are completed. But it’s uncertain when all of the elements — new Wall Park, shared parking garage and new street network — will come together.
“The project can’t be built unless the roads are in place,” Kaufman said. “We’re looking at 2016 or the year after. Either it’s going to happen by then, or White Flint is going to be in big trouble.”
Images via Gables Residential
Dee Metz, the Montgomery County’s White Flint Implementation Coordinator, told two groups of residents, developers and other stakeholders this week that the county hopes to present the plans for the new street network, called the western workaround, at the June meeting of the Implementation Committee.
There is $98 million worth of transportation design and construction programmed into the county’s FY13-FY18 capital budget for road projects in the western section of the White Flint Sector, including the new east-to-west Market Street that will connect Old Georgetown Road to a realigned Executive Boulevard.
The new section of Executive Boulevard will be built through the parking lot of the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center and cross Old Georgetown Road into the Pike & Rose development, now under construction at Mid-Pike Plaza.
Metz said the road design got held up several months as the county worked to get SHA to agree on fewer turn lanes and other design features more conducive to the walkable, pedestrian-friendly atmosphere county planners and developers seek for White Flint.
“The situation is the state does have a lot of influence over it. They typically have to approve any of our intersections with state roads,” Metz said on Monday at the Implementation Committee meeting. “We didn’t just want to go ahead and roll over and do what the state wanted us to do. Even though the design has been held up, we’re still on schedule to make it to the same construction timeline that we’ve had in the CIP program all along.”
Metz and Evan Goldman, from Rockville-based developer Federal Realty, indicated the SHA was more interested in a design that would move the most cars.
“The state has really dug in on certain principles that are really antithetical to urbanism,” Goldman said. Federal Realty is building the mixed-use Pike & Rose project.
Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike are state roads.
“They wanted eight-inch curbs. We want six-inch curbs. They’re showing cycle tracks, but we want buffers. These are the comments that we’re giving to them,” Metz said. “I think we’re making progress even though as I said this is somewhat a new way of approaching development.”
Photo via Friends of White Flint
A Bethesda developer’s plan for three 300-foot residential towers and two 200-foot buildings along Rockville Pike met some resistance on Monday, when a resident of a nearby condominium building questioned the lack of retail space in the presentation.
Saul Centers, a part of B.F. Saul, wants to tun the two-level Metro Pike Center shopping center and the Staples site near the White Flint Metro station into four residential high-rises and an office building.
Saul Centers Vice President of Development Brian Downie told a meeting of the White Flint Implementation Advisory Committee on Monday that the company’s research shows retail uses are not in high demand at the site, which sits between four major mixed-use projects either underway or in the pipeline for White Flint.
Paul Meyer, a member of the Committee and a resident of The Wisconsin Condominiums to the west of the property, said the lack of retail and other amenities wouldn’t be fair to residents of his building and wouldn’t encourage people to walk from section to section of White Flint.
“Everything that’s being built in White Flint, we know we’re going to have to pay in terms of construction, noise, and traffic problems over time,” Meyer said. “On the other hand, it’s a balance. We look at what we’ll have when it’s done. These projects have places to walk to, they have restaurants to eat in, a destination that I’d want to go to. This project has none of that, absolutely none.”
Meyer said the project will likely be the first in the redevelopment of White Flint that residents of The Wisconsin don’t support.
In total, the Saul redevelopment on its two Pike properties would bring 1.4 million square feet of new residential space with roughly 1,400 rental units and 200,000 square feet of office and commercial space, most of which would be in a roughly 200-foot high office building near the Porcelenosa store.
The plan calls for green, pedestrian-friendly walkways, a public plaza on the east side of Rockville Pike along Nicholson Lane and a few spaces for retail or restaurants. But Downie said that retail or restaurant space is limited.
“We want to be forthright and cautious about overpromising retail,” Downie said at the meeting. “We do think the uses we want there primarily are restaurants, but we don’t see it’s strength as retail.”
Downie said the performance of the existing shopping center on the site, which has a number of vacancies, played a role in that decision. Bob Dalrymple, an attorney from Linowes and Blocher who is representing Saul Centers on the project, said the plan presented so far is in its early stages.
“I would encourage you not to take anything too literally, too fixed. We are very early on,” Dalrymple said. “So don’t give up on us too early is I guess what I’m asking.”
Saul Centers hopes to submit a sketch plan to the County Planning Department in a few weeks.
“If they do the right thing, everybody wins,” Meyer said. “I’m willing to take some more traffic. I’ll walk. But my worry is, if they overbuild the residential, it becomes a ghost town.”
But not all major developers, including one that has already branded its property as North Bethesda Center, are on board. Developers are split on whether to label the rapidly redeveloping area around the White Flint Metro station as White Flint or as North Bethesda.
Francine Waters, from Lerner Enterprises, told a meeting of an area advisory board that the group, called the White Flint Partnership, is close to signing a contract with a firm to conduct the branding study. Lerner Enterprises owns White Flint Mall, which it plans to redevelop into a mixed-use, town square-oriented community.
LCOR, the developer that plans a similar project along Old Georgetown Road called North Bethesda Center, is not part of the Partnership, which Waters said includes Lerner, Saul Centers, Gables Residential, Federal Realty Investment Trust and JBG. All have agreed to pitch in to pay for the study.
“We reached out to all the developers in White Flint. We asked that they participate financially,” Waters told the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee on Tuesday, without referring specifically to LCOR. “We were politely told that they’d love to be engaged but were not interested in contributing financially.
“I would say, when you think about branding and naming, if you come up with a new name, then you have to think about what it would take to define that place with the new name,” Waters said.
“It’s not just a question of the new name or the existing name, because we have two existing names,” said Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce Board member Andy Shulman.
Judge Denies County Request To Throw Out Police Union Lawsuit — The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35′s lawsuit against the county will continue after a judge refused to dismiss it in April. The police union says the county illegally used taxpayer money to campaign for Question B on last fall’s ballot, which upheld the county’s decision to revoke effects bargaining rights for police. [The Gazette]
MTA Looks To Cancel Lightly-Used Bus Route — The Maryland Transit Administration will host a series of three public meetings before getting rid of a Columbia-Bethesda commuter bus route they say not many people use. [MTA]
White Flint Developer To Present Development Plan — Developer Gables Residential will hold its required pre-submittal public meeting with residents and other stakeholders at 7:30 p.m. on May 21 at the Shriver Aquatic Center (5900 Executive Blvd.). Gables wants to redevelop the area of Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard, just north of the Aquatic Center and site of a future county park. [Friends of White Flint]
Flickr photo by im_apatel
Montgomery County Police today said they arrested a D.C. man for 10 second degree burglaries and other charges stemming from a string of office burglaries this year in downtown Bethesda and White Flint.
Andre Antonio Henry, 29, of the 400 block of 50th Street NE was arrested last week for a rash of burglaries police say he committed between January 28 and April 15. Police said they used surveillance video from several of the burglaries to determine all had been committed by the same suspect. Witnesses provided a description of the suspect police said matched the man seen in the video.
Police believe Henry forced his way into the offices using a flathead screwdriver before stealing electronics and other property. Police said Henry stole a credit card during one burglary and used it to buy items.
The alleged one-man crime spree played a part in 46 reported commercial office burglaries though April in the 2nd District, compared to 18 during the same stretch of time in 2012, according to 2nd District Police statistics. That’s a 155 percent spike in that category.
Police arrested Henry on May 9 in Prince George’s County without incident. He is currently being held on a $50,000 bond. He’s been charged with second-degree burglary or attempted second-degree burglary at the following properties:
- National Brokerage Associates, 11140 Rockville Pike, Suite 300, Rockville
- WRIT, 6110 Executive Boulevard, Suite 800, Rockville
- Express Title Company, 6110 Executive Boulevard, Suite 300, Rockville
- Hariton Mancuso Jones PC Office, 11140 Rockville Pike, Suite 340, Rockville
- Market Research.com, 11200 Rockville Pike, Suite 504, Rockville
- Dragon Bridge, 11200 Rockville Pike, Suite 205, Rockville
- Snyder Cohn, 11200 Rockville Pike, Suite 415, Rockville
- Spree, 7735 Old Georgetown Road, Suite 510, Bethesda
- Design to Delivery, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 300 Bethesda
- Councilor Buchanan& Mitchell, PC, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 500, Bethesda
- Information Management Services, 6110 Executive Boulevard, Suite 310, Rockville
- Zeno, 710 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450, Bethesda
Photo via Montgomery County Police
How Did White Flint Get Its Name? — The name came from the white quartz rock that was found throughout Montgomery County, not the White Flint Mall, which came along in the 70s. The first known use of the name in the area was in 1930 with the White Flint Country Club. Developers and residents are now debating what to call the rapidly developing section of Rockville Pike. [Friends of White Flint]
B-CC’s Beakes Establishes Herself As County’s Top Distance Runner — The Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School sophomore runner finished 10th in the 3,000 meters at last week’s Penn Relays, 11 seconds faster than her goal time. She has finished first in every other individual race of more than 400 meters this year. [The Gazette]
Walter Reed Pharmacy Investigates Potentially Deadly Prescription Mistake — The Bethesda military hospital, which provides prescriptions for branch clinics throughout the D.C. area, somehow provided a Virginia woman with a potentially deadly heart stimulant instead of the Vitamin B12 injection she had been prescribed. [Washington Post]
B-CC Names New Field Hockey Coach — The high school announced last week that JV Field Hockey coach Morgan Kauffman would take over as coach of the varsity squad. Kauffman, a Pennsylvania-native, played college field hockey at Bucknell, where she was an all-conference player. [Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Athletics]
Flickr photo by im_apatel
Saul Centers, a part of Bethesda-based development company B.F. Saul, on Tuesday revealed its plans for three 300-foot residential towers and two 200-foot buildings on its two properties near the White Flint Metro station.
Saul Centers purchased the two-level shopping center at Metro Pike Center (across from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission) and the Staples-anchored shopping center at 11503 Rockville Pike two years ago with the intent of developing the site under the new zoning codes of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan.
The buildings would likely be built in phases over a number of years, Saul Centers Vice President of Development Brian Downie told attendees of the required public meeting at the Bethesda North Conference Center. The company would begin building its first tower in about two years, if everything goes smoothly in the approval process.
Saul Centers will submit its sketch plan to the Montgomery County Planning Board by the end of May. It is not releasing the renderings it showed on Tuesday until that submission.
Metro Pike Center would be torn down and redeveloped with a 300-foot residential tower on the spot of the existing McDonald’s at Marinelli Road and Rockville Pike. Just to the south, Saul Centers would build a matching 300-foot residential tower with a new east-to-west street in between. South of that, across another new east-to-west street, would be a roughly 200-foot predominantly office building.
Woodglen Drive is to be extended behind the property to Marinelli Road under the Sector Plan. It currently cuts off at Nicholson Lane.
At the Staples site, Saul Centers would build a 300-foot, L-Shaped residential tower along Rockville Pike and another 200-foot residential tower to the east with a public plaza in between.
Lindsay Hoffman, a resident near White Flint who runs the Friends of White Flint organization, said she gets questions all the time about what exactly is coming to the soon-to-be redeveloped parcels along Rockville Pike.
On Tuesday morning, many of the developers creating those places gathered in the same place to answer some of those questions, show renderings and get to know the community that will see big changes over the next few decades.
Representatives from White Flint Mall, LCOR, Federal Realty and the Chevy Chase Land Company were a part of the showcase event held at the Whole Foods at North Bethesda Market. Park planners from the Montgomery County Department of Parks and staff from the Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar, coming to North Bethesda Market this summer, were also on hand.
Parks staff asked for ideas from residents for the expansion of Wall Park. As part of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan, the site of the Shriver Swim Center and parking lot will be transformed into a multi-purpose recreation center and green space between Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard.
The plans also include an above-ground parking garage on the Gables property. Park planners are waiting to see what that developer does with the property before devising a formal plan for the park.
Rockville-based Federal Realty is progressing with its Pike & Rose project for Mid-Pike Plaza. During a walking tour of White Flint last weekend, Federal’s Tommy Mann said the developer wants Pike & Rose to be the premier arts and entertainment destination in the White Flint/North Bethesda area. Federal has signed luxury movie theater iPic and has a deal with Strathmore for a 250-seat music venue.
LCOR plans to build out its North Bethesda Center development across Rockville Pike. Francine Waters, from Lerner Enterprises, showed residents the White Flint sketch plan and renderings from the White Flint Partnership of what a Bus Rapid Transit network could look like on Rockville Pike.
Following the ins and outs of the many redevelopment projects slated for White Flint isn’t easy.
So on Saturday a group of smart growth advocates put together a walking tour of the area to show about 50 area residents what is going on and what they hope to see happen to the strip malls and sidewalks of Rockville Pike.
The D.C.-based Coalition for Smarter Growth, a nonprofit funded by an environmental group, organized “White Flint: Drag to Desirable,” a two-hour tour of the area that included Tommy Mann from developer Federal Realty, County planner Nkosi Yearwood, resident Lindsay Hoffman from Friends of White Flint and Coalition executive director Stewart Schwartz.
They talked about plans for Federal Realty’s Pike & Rose project, underway at Mid-Pike Plaza, and developer LCOR’s North Bethesda Center on the east side of Rockville Pike near the White Flint Metro station. Yearwood answered questions about the realignment of Executive Boulevard, which the county hopes will one day run through what is now Mid-Pike Plaza and the Saab auto dealership across Old Georgetown Road.
Schwartz pointed out some of the less noticeable signs of car-oriented, older suburban planning that still exist on the Pike.
The high-speed right hand turn lane from Old Georgetown Road onto southbound Rockville Pike is one example. Drivers looking to get onto the Pike are more likely to look left for a gap in southbound traffic than to look right for pedestrians crossing at the crosswalk.
There is no tree buffer between the sidewalks of Rockville Pike and the road, a streetscaping tool that is apparent off the Pike near the Bethesda North Marriott and nearby apartment buildings.
Many asked about school overcrowding from new residents in mid-rise and high-rise apartments. The 2010 White Flint Sector Plan includes a new elementary school at the White Flint Mall redevelopment site. Yearwood fielded questions about public amenities, including a green space planned for near Wall Park.
And many wanted to know exactly what was going to be built and when. Mann answered questions about parking and retailers coming to Pike & Rose, the first major mixed-use development coming under the Sector Plan. Phase one will be done next year.
But residents found the bulk of redevelopment for White Flint is going to be a long process in which all the details — road construction, land ownership, the fate of existing small businesses, even a name — aren’t finalized.
There are only three reported crimes in the most recent Bethesda District crime summary, including another White Flint area office burglary:
A commercial office burglary occurred at 6101 Executive Boulevard, Bethesda overnight from Monday, 4/8 to Tuesday, 4/9. Unknown means of entry; property taken.
A residential burglary occurred in the 6200 block of MacArthur Boulevard, Bethesda on Saturday, 4/13 between noon and 12:40 p.m. Unforced entry; property taken.
A residential burglary occurred in the 5700 block of Kingswood Road, Bethesda on Tuesday, 4/16 between 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Forced entry; property taken.
The first thing out of most mouths at the first-ever meeting of the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee earlier this month was that the area needs one identifiable and marketable name.
What went unspoken is the disagreement over exactly what that name should be.
The area around the White Flint Metro station is projected to see 14,000 new housing units and 13 million square feet of commercial redevelopment in the strip shopping centers along Rockville Pike over the next 25 years.
The bulk of that development will come in four major projects from four different developers that appear split. Should the area be called White Flint, like the Metro station and landmark mall, or North Bethesda, to better identify it on a map?
“Not being a ‘Little Bethesda’ but creating a district that is unique and identifiable and that actually leads the county,” Federal Realty’s Deirdre Johnson said at the April 9 meeting of developers, business representatives, residents and county staff. “We want people saying, ‘Look at what they did,’ and not, ‘Look at what Bethesda did and they replicated it.’”
Developer Seeks Buyer For White Flint Office Building — LCOR, which last year completed a 14-story office building near its future North Bethesda Center mixed-use development, is looking for buyers of the office complex. It is fully leased to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which has its headquarters across Marinelli Road. [Washington Business Journal]
Mitchell and Emily Rales Expansion Plans For Glenstone Art Collection — Bethesda native Mitchell Rales is planning a major expansion of his up until now very private art collection at his Glenstone estate in Potomac. The expansion is said to cost more than $125 million. [New York Times]
Urban Country Gears Up For Special Show — Bethesda Row furniture store Urban Country (7117 Arlington Rd.) is celebrating a month-long spring sale with a Designers Guild Trunk Show on Thursday, May 2 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. All merchandise will be 10 percent off. [Urban Country]
Start-Ups Get Spotlight At Bethesda Blues & Jazz — The club (7719 Wisconsin Ave.) will host a conference of some of the fastest-growing tech start-ups in the region this afternoon called TechBUZZ Spring 2013. [TechBUZZ]
Flickr photo by Craig Thoburn
About 3,000 runners took part in the 18th Annual Pike’s Peek 10K on Sunday, a race that took on special significance for some almost a week after the Boston Marathon bombings.
The race from the Shady Grove Metro station to White Flint Mall went off without a hitch and with an increased police presence as a precaution.
Participants and spectators braved a chilly morning for the race and food and activities in the White Flint Mall parking lot.
The top male finisher finished in 29 minutes, just off the race record 28 minutes and 11 second-run in 2011. Check the race website for race results.
Strathmore and Rockville-based developer Federal Realty have announced plans for a 250-seat music venue overlooking the luxury movie theater under construction at the Pike & Rose development in White Flint.
Strathmore, which says its decade-old Music Center at Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Lane) is approaching capacity, will book the unnamed venue with jazz, rock, folk and other performances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Strathmore and Federal Realty hope to book weddings, celebrations and corporate events for the space when it’s not being used for music.
They hope to deliver the venue in 2015. The first phase of the 24-acre, $250-million mixed-use development on the site of the Mid-Pike Plaza shopping center is set to be completed in 2014. That phase includes the luxury iPic Theatre, a commercial anchor for Pike & Rose.
It also will include an 18-story, 300-unit apartment building near the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard.
The glass-enclosed music venue will include a 2,833-square-foot indoor space and a 1,100-square foot pre-function space with an outdoor balcony and green room.
“With the Concert Hall and Arts Education Center approaching capacity and the Strathmore name well established in the region, it’s time to reach out to ages and tastes beyond our current programming and facilities,” Strathmore founder and CEO Eliot Pfanstiehl said in a press release. “In this groundbreaking partnership with Federal Realty, we are both a familiar anchor to their new Pike & Rose community and a champion of the lifestyle they offer to their future residents and businesses.”
Strathmore says the venue will host intimate jazz shows, contemporary performances and “trend-setting touring acts.”
“Bringing an arts institution of Strathmore’s stature into one of the crown jewels of Federal Realty’s development portfolio underscores the importance that the arts play within our community and the region as a whole,” Federal Realty Vice President of Development Evan Goldman said. “Federal Realty is committed to creating unique, engaging environments within the neighborhoods that we build. Simply put, we believe that great environments lead to a better way of life. Just as Bethesda Row has become the epicenter of its community, Pike & Rose will be an urban, inspirational location for North Bethesda and the White Flint Community to enjoy on many levels for years to come.”
Photo via Federal Realty and Strathmore