There are lots of buildings going up across White Flint, but representatives from developer The Dolben Company say their proposed apartment building, to be built at the corner of Nicholson Lane and Citadel Avenue, will stand out.
Dubbed White Flint View, the project “will look considerably different than other towers being built on Rockville Pike,” boasted architect Jim Voelzke at a public meeting at the Shriver Aquatic Center.
Dolben, an apartment developer based in Massachusetts, proposes a 16-story, 170-foot-tall building on a 1.18-acre property currently home to a body shop. The project includes 193 apartments, 28 of which would be set aside for low-income households, and 18,000 square feet of retail. It’s a slight change from an earlier plan with more retail and fewer apartments that was approved in 2007.
White Flint View will be marketed as a luxury building, with a full suite of amenities including a swimming pool. Drew Dolben, senior vice president for the Dolben Company, estimates that about 60% of the apartments will be one-bedroom units, while the rest will have two bedrooms.
Voelzke said he tried to create a more sophisticated building than one would expect in White Flint, with a glass curtain wall and metal accents. “We’re trying to reflect more details that we’d do on our downtown projects,” he said. “It’s a little more modern, more contemporary. Urban is what I’d like to use.”
The building is set into the sloped site, placing it partially underground. Along Nicholson, at the bottom of the hill, it will have a loading dock and retail space; along Citadel, one floor above, there will be two more retail spaces, a lobby for the apartments, and entrances to separate parking garages for residents and shoppers. Above that are three floors of parking capped by a roof deck and a tower with 11 floors of apartments.
All of that parking is the result of the building originally being approved five years ago under Montgomery County’s old commercial zoning. Most properties in White Flint are now under the county’s new Commercial-Residential or CR Zone, which requires less parking in developments near the Metro.
For residents who want to walk to the Metro a few blocks away, there will be ample sidewalks on the property, though they’ll end at the WMATA bus lot, forcing pedestrians to cross the street. There will also be a 10,000-square foot open space along Citadel Avenue, as required by the county. As a result, the building is set far from the street, potentially discouraging foot traffic to retailers, some of which would be 12 feet above street level due to the sloping site.
A self-described “retail guy,” Voelzke acknowledged the difficulty of making retail work here, but was confident that the spaces would get filled, citing the property’s good visibility. “Just because you build it doesn’t mean they’re gonna come,” he said. “We’ve massaged the building and the plan to make the retail as viable as possible.”
Residents were skeptical of the building’s aesthetics. “They all look alike, all the buildings” being built in White Flint, said Martha Hudek. “It would be a pleasure to see something with a little style.”
Voelzke hopes that the project will be a good contribution to the larger White Flint community. “We’re taking our piece and fitting it into the bigger vision for the area,” he said.
If the project is approved, White Flint View could begin construction in the middle of 2014, according to Dolben, with completion projected for the end of 2016.