Updates from May White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee Meeting
Nkosi Yearwood began the committee meeting by discussing updates on the various development projects:
Saul Centers’ White Flint sketch plan was approved April 17th by the Planning board.
North Bethesda Gateway development is moving forward after the sketch plan was amended last year. The preliminary site plan was amended 3 weeks ago and will be coming to the Planning Board in the near future.
Gables Residential– White Flint will be presenting their site plan at a public meeting tonight, Thursday May 15th at Wall Local Park/Shriver Aquatic Center. This project is moving forward as well.
North Bethesda Market II- JBG met with the Planning Board and is amending their sketch plan and preliminary site plan. JBG has decided to keep the multi-family building but change the office building. Hopefully, they will be submitting the amendments to the Planning Board this fall.
A plan for Hillery Way – a road behind the former Addie’s building, near the Crest of Wickford residences – has been designed to add 6-8 townhouses. This is a small project but the preliminary site plan was given to the Planning Board, with more to follow.
At Pike & Rose, an amendment for Phase I was approved to provide clean-up of the construction of Buildings 10-12 and streetscape changes. In addition, the Building 13 plan was amended to include changing the corner appearance by adding a façade.
Public projects- North Bethesda Conference Center and Parking Garage plan design was approved for money under the CIP budget.
Next, Ken Hartman, Director of B-CC Regional Services, provided updates from the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee. The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee advises on services provided in the White Flint area that include, pedestrian safety programs, homelessness programs, public safety coordination, and the weekender cleaning team. The committee hopes to build services to eventually set-up an urban district, which can provide maintenance of urban space. Many individuals worked on completing the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant application to get a share of the grant money provided by the Federal Government to complete a study on the BRT system. The Downtown committee is also focused on the Nebel Street plan to provide bike improvements. The committee hopes to hold joint meetings with the Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee to focus on common interests both committees have.
On the marketing side of development, they are working on the Metro White Flint destination website that will provide information on where to shop, eat, and live in the White Flint district and further information on development projects and economic development of the area, as well as a newsfeed option to access information from social media websites.
The committee, along with the Regional Services Center, hopes to work towards achievables. Right now, they have a goal to work on decreasing the speed of Rockville Pike by using strategies such as beautifying the streetscape on the Pike to slow down traffic and provide more open space and parks. One of the locations with a possible site to create a park is the Water Tower. Right now, there is $20,000 allotted to changing the street-scape of Rockville Pike but the committee is asking the Montgomery County Council to provide an extra $75,000 for marketing, the weekender team and for the street-scape plan. The committee hopes to have the street-scape done this summer.
The County Council has a funding reconciliation list of projects the council wants to fund but may not be covered under the budget currently. On May 15th, the council will decide on what projects will be funded under this reconciliation budget. Right now, the street-scape plan ask is being supported by Councilmember Roger Berliner. The budget resolution will be finalized on May 21st, which is when the funded projects will be announced. Another project the committee is working on is the need to create a unified White Flint zip code and unified White Flint district name. Stay tuned for more information on this.
Francine Waters then provided the committee with an update on the TIGER Grant program. The TIGER Grant is program run by the Federal government that provides funding for transportation projects or studies in communities and localities. The grant can be used for either planning or for construction. MCDOT together with the State of Maryland, Maryland State Highway, and Montgomery County Council of Governments agreed to apply for a preliminary engineering planning study of the BRT system on Rockville Pike. The 95 page application asked for $3 million dollars, as Montgomery County has never received more than $3 million for planning from the TIGER Grant in the past. The grant has received support from varying organizations and individuals throughout Montgomery County including Friends of White Flint, Congressmen Chris Van Hollen, and NIH. The Department of Transportation will not make their decision on the recipients of the grant until September so Francine is asking individuals or groups that are in support of the grant for Montgomery County to show their support by writing a letter of recommendation.
County White Flint Implementation Coordinator Dee Metz then provided her report for the Committee. Two other projects on the budget reconciliation list include the Hoya Street extension all the way through to Montrose Parkway and the planning submission for the North Bethesda Conference Center garage. For the garage project, the feasibility study has been completed. In addition, we know that the Maryland Stadium Authority will design the garage and are currently looking for contractors. They will put out a request for expressions of interest and then an RFP. They hope to find one contractor for both the garage and the street outside of the conference center. They hope to have bids by the end of Summer 2014.
Also, Nebel Street traffic calming plans were discussed. MCDOT provides grants for traffic calming developments and the Planning Department hopes to receive grant money for Nebel Street developments between Nicholson Lane and Randolph Road. They want to spread the grant money among various strategies along Nebel Street including the use of curbs and biking facilities along the street. In addition, they are looking at a cycle track demonstration for the White Flint district as well. One problem they are currently looking at is what to do at intersections for biking facilities.
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