“North Bethesda” vs. “White Flint”

“North Bethesda” vs. “White Flint”

Today’s Gazette has an article on the continuing (and sometimes quite heated) debate over the name of the area north of Grosvenor and south of Rockville. Some people call it “North Bethesda,” citing long-term useage and real estate listings. Others insist on “White Flint,” pointing to the Metro station, and the fact that “North Bethesda” is also used in Grosvenor and Rock Springs to the south and west of White Flint.

Even the Post Office is divided. The Post Office in the White Flint Mall (which Friends of White Flint uses) is the “White Flint Station,” but has a “Kensington” zip code, 20891, and address. Just across the Pike, mail is delivered to “Rockville” at zip code 20852. And what about “Garrett Park,” zip code 20896? Some people consider that part of the White Flint area.

The question comes up at almost every community presentation on the White Flint Sector Plan, and audiences are often strongly divided. The former White Flint Advisory Group, which advised the Montgomery County Planning Board from 2006 until 2008, dealt with the question for several years, and didn’t come to a resolution. As the Advisory Group’s September 2008 final report said:

Image and Identity

There is a consensus on the need for a unifying identity, but no consensus on what that name or identity should be. The Advisory Group put off further discussion on this point. There was a proposal to create a separate working group to create an image and explore means to “brand” the image; the working group could review information such as the public opinion work done by some developers in creating their project names (which include both White Flint and North Bethesda in titles).

There are good arguments on both sides, and today’s article, by Jen Beasley, summarizes the positions pretty well:

Barnaby Zall, founder of the nonprofit Friends of White Flint, an organization that provides resources and information about the White Flint sector plan, supports the handle given to the area’s Red Line Metro stop. As he sees it, right now White Flint is not a destination moniker because “there’s no ‘there’ there,” but the major development slated to occur in the area over the next 30 years demands an independent name to set it apart.

“One of the reasons people don’t like White Flint is because they say there’s nothing here, there’s just a mall,” Zall said. “But in a few years there will be and we need to be in a position to identify ourselves.”

Mike Smith, of LCOR development, said the company decided to use North Bethesda Center as the name for its residential and retail project on Rockville Pike at Marinelli Road, partly due to feedback it received five years ago from citizens’ associations. “There’s an opportunity to rebrand the neighborhood and make a distinction between Rockville, Bethesda, the nomenclature of those two communities,” Smith said. He said White Flint has the danger of only being associated with the White Flint Mall and the Metro station.

The whole article can be found at:


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Barnaby Zall

Barnaby Zall


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