** Below are the draft minutes from our May 29, 2014, business meeting. The minutes will remain in draft form until they are voted upon at our next quarterly meeting. In the meantime, please send any edits/corrections to info@WhiteFlint.org**
Friends of White Flint
2014 Annual Meeting
May 29, 2014, 6:30pm
Federal Realty Investment Trust Headquarters
The Friends of White Flint (FOWF) annual meeting was called to order at 6:30 pm. The agenda was prepared by Lindsay Hoffman. Board members in attendance include Greg Trimmer, Barnaby Zall, Dave Freishtat, Suzanne Hudson, Chad Salganick, Evan Goldman, Howard Feldman, Francine Waters, and James Schaffer. Not present were Todd Lewers, Ken Hurdle, and Bill Hard. A quorum was present, as well as approximately 45 other members.
Friends of White Flint Update from Lindsay
Membership in Friends of White Flint continues to grow. Since the last meeting in February, 189 new individuals, 10 property-owners/developers, 7 community associations and/or groups, and 11 businesses have joined for this year.
We have had 14,358 visits to the Friends of White Flint website and 1900 unique visitors. In addition, we have 1,010 users on our email list receiving our weekly Thursday updates. Also, since our last meeting, our development map was launched on the website.
Furthermore, we had our Development Showcase on March 10th. We had a great turn out of 120 people. It was a successful happy hour and it was great to have support and attendance from Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Hans Riemer.
FOWF has increased our advocacy in the region. We were very involved in the Montgomery County budget process, with the CIP.
In addition, Lindsay did a talk at the National Building Museum focused on smart growth and how FOWF came to be an important organization in the region and impacted the development process. Also, Becca attended Bike to Work Day on May 19th, representing FOWF at the North Bethesda pit stop. FOWF is working on our relationship with the Montgomery County Parks Department and Foundation to work on Josiah Henson Special Park.
FOWF and the White Flint district were featured in the Washington Post, Bethesda Now, and Bethesda Beat/Magazine over the last week.
The weekend of May 31st, FOWF will host a table along with Pike and Rose at the Pike Central Farm Market. We hope to continue to be a presence at the market throughout the season. We are working on a happy hour with Coalition for Smarter Growth in July.
Soon, we will begin a promotion to grow our membership. Individuals will have a chance to win a prize if get a certain amount of people to join FOWF. In addition, we hope to have the list of our members on website in the next month.
Within the last year, FOWF increased their membership dues for certain membership levels. Currently, we have a $41,000 revenue. Our expenditures have been $15,000 so we have $26,000 net excess capital, which is great for the organization.
County Executive’s White Flint Implementation Coordinator Report (Dee Metz)
The County Council passed the CIP budget at end of May and it committed over $341 million to nine White Flint projects. Rather than stall the projects while White Flint’s Special Taxing District ramps up, the county proposes to forward fund them. The county’s general fund will then be reimbursed by revenue generated by the Special Taxing District as it becomes available.
In addition, Roger Berliner has been a great supporter of the White Flint initiatives. He worked hard to include the add sector of roadway of Hoya Street in the Phase 1. Also, he was instrumental in adding $75,000 for the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee budget as well.
**Evan Goldman, Federal Realty Investment Trust
Pike and Rose construction is well under way; the 1050 sq. feet of retail is all leased. In 2.5 weeks, the residential apartments at PerSei will open. Between August and November, phase one retail stores and restaurants will be opening. The new Strathmore music venue, AMP, will open in December for parties and music performances will begin in February/March 2015. Phase 2 will break ground over next 6 months, starting next week and should be completed by 2016.
**Rob Eisinger ProMARK- North Bethesda Gateway/East Village
The East Village at North Bethesda Gateway property is a 5 acre area at the southeast corner of Nicholson and Huff Court. They got approval of their sketch plan/amendment eight months ago. ProMARK and Foulger/Pratt, who are working on the project jointly, held a community meeting last Wednesday, May 28th, and they hope to submit the preliminary plan at the beginning of June. They will break ground in the next year and a half. Look for a presentation with more information at the next White Flint Implementation meeting on Monday, June 9.
**Greg Trimmer- North Bethesda Market
JBG plans to file an amendment and site plan on North Bethesda Market II during the third week of June. They are holding a community meeting with more details on Tuesday, June 10 at 6:30pm at the North Bethesda Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in the Linden Oak Room.
**Gables Residential: Gables White Flint
Their sketch plan was approved in October and Gables plans to file a site plan in the next 30-60 days. They held their community meeting the week of May 19. The timeline of their project depends on the county plan for the Western Workaround.
**Brian Downie- BF Saul, Saul Centers.
B.F. Saul is developing the Metro Pike center and 2 properties off of Nicholson Road. They received their sketch plan approval in late April, and they hope to file site plan as soon as possible. It could take up to 20 months to get full approve after that. Didn’t obtain the property until 2012 so B.F. Saul is playing catch up.
**Francine Waters and Ed deAvila – Lerner Enterprises
They are working on the White Flint Mall property sketch plan approval and making refinements to sketch.
David Hauck- Communities for Transit BRT Presentation
Communities for Transit is an organization that works to build support/education for Rapid Transit. Montgomery County is growing 20-40% in population and 39% in job growth and we need to figure out a way to adapt to this growth and density. The Master Plan for the BRT system was adopted at end of November 2013 to create a county-wide network with 10 major routes and over 81 miles of transit. The goal is to extend Metro and connect Montgomery County from Clarksburg to Friendship Heights with about 100-105 stops along the way.
We hope to improve connections north to east, specifically creating viable transit option for people to move through White Flint district and to create connections to west and south to Bethesda.
RTS is “Metro on wheels.” It is not an express bus service but an all-day option that expands the reach of existing options. Some of the routes will have dedicated lanes, which will allow vehicles to stay on schedule (really important) to prevent frustration from the lack of reliability that Metro often has. The dedicated lanes will have TSP — “transit signal priority” – that allows the vehicles to communicate with traffic lights and stay on schedule. There will also be sheltered transit stations with electronic bus information. Also, you will pay at the station, like Metro. Platform is raised 12-14 inches above the street and level boarding for vehicle doors, which will help to extend number of people who can use transit.
There are 25 cities in North America that have BRT systems already running such as Seattle, L.A., Salt Lake City, Chicago, Albany, and other large and small cities. There are many positives for BRT including that it’s cheaper to build than any other transit system. Also, the Millienial generation don’t want to drive and are looking for transit accessible places, which the BRT provides. In addition, using BRT saves money. It has been found that a family can save $5,000 a year using public transit over a car. This concept supports walkable, compact communities and improves air quality because the BRT system allow people to use less cars.
The Department of Transportation will soon select an advisory board of community members from the area to focus on what each route should look like. If interested, please send your name to David as CFT is collecting names. The advisory board will meet once a quarter to make suggestions of stations and dedicated lanes location. David hopes we will see the BRT system in the next 6-7 yrs.
Discussion: Naming- White Flint Sector.
Throughout the whole Sector Plan process, there has never been a full buy-in or agreement among developers or the community of how the district will be branded. Recently, there has been more attention on the name as the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee has been working to move the subject forward.
There is no consensus on the name of this area – some call it Rockville, others call it North Bethesda and still others call it White Flint. The mall’s mailing address is Kensington. So, there is a major identity crisis. We want to make sure this is approached the same way we’ve approached all White Flint-related decisions, to find the solution that works best for the whole area.
One idea is that we’d find an umbrella brand for the whole area and then divide it into a series of neighborhoods within. A recent poll within the community found that names such as North Bethesda, Pike Corridor, Pike District, and Market District were most popular. Residents need to remember that it will take many years for it be authentic so we need to be patient. We can look at other examples in the area of districts that have gone through similar issues such as the Mosaic District.
Suzanne Hudson mentioned that White Flint has a historic meaning, stemming back to the golf course. It is also the largest urban area in Maryland but needs to remain separate from Bethesda and Rockville.
Lindsay reminded everyone that the name is only the beginning of the process because the paradigm shift will require massive educational undertaking, requiring residents to buy in and for developers and businesses to embrace the name. This will be the case for any name, even an existing one, to achieve full buy-in.
Evan Goldman of FRIT mentioned that they see a larger stretch of Rockville Pike as a one big commercial area but need to add the personal touch of neighborhoods. Also, Vanessa Rodriguez from FRIT said that, to compete regional and nationally, need a different name that does not already have an association with it, like White Flint does with the mall.
David Freishtat mentioned that the owners of the properties along Rockville Pike should work with the Advisory Committee to make a branding name.
Ken Hartman of B-CC Regional Services Center says that we need to be prepared to market the district as a unit- capturing housing, retail, and office spaces. White Flint district is the center between Rockville and Bethesda and a natural dividing area between the two. The name division is preventing the White Flint Advisory Committee from marketing the area and putting up the district website.
One community member in attendance mentioned that the name is truly for business related reasons and homeowners are never going to use the big umbrella/identify with it. Also, currently there is a negative view of the Rockville Pike right now so it doesn’t help to have “Pike” as part of the name.
Ed de Avila from Lerner Enterprises mentioned that the name should not be reflective of a single development project or neighborhood within the district. Lerner is okay with keeping White Flint because of it is already strong brand equity.
Lindsay discussed that this area is the economic engine of the county, which is the economic engine of the state so the name of the region is a large issue. Residents and community members will give their input but it comes down to property owners and developers coming together to decide.
Ken Hartman- Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center and White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee
White Flint district is the next urban center of the county and the state. We need to work on improving the quality of life and business life in the region. The B-CC Regional Services Center is working to promoting walkability and bikability of the region as well as creating partnerships with the business community.
Right now, unifying the White Flint area into one zip code is one of their major issues they are focused on. Ken recently met with Congressman Van Hollen’s office to move it forward.
Also, they are working on the destination website for the district. It will include the developments happening, local news, and things to do in the region. This website is one of the main reasons the marketing of the region is so important right now.
In addition, they are working on the streetscape plan with the Urban Land Institute (ULI). The county just increased the budget for streetscape plan to $95,000. Funding for market, beautification project and website. How to activate dead spaces? Pop up markets, art.
They are also working on lowering the speed limits in the region to slow traffic down. We cannot continue to have 40 miles per hour in an urban center. It is important to make the region more pleasant for pedestrians.
Also, it is important to think about what is the appropriate level of service for urban district in this area? Do we need something like the Bethesda Urban Partnership?
The B-CC Regional Services Center has a weekender team, which is a collaborative effort with the Dept. of Corrections. It is a weekend community service, where individuals with community service sentence complete activities in that help clean up the community. They have been out in White Flint helping with some of these beautification efforts.
Lastly, Ken Hartman hopes that Friends of White Flint can co-exist with the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee and ensure that the urban cleanup program continues. The board of directors for each organization should be matching what they do with another.
Nominations for Board of Directors
Each nominee for the Board of Directors was introduced and, if present, offered time to share more about themselves and why they would be a good fit for the Board of Directors. Elections will occur by the existing Board of Directors.
Motion to adjourn meeting at 8:45pm. Motion was seconded and meeting was adjourned to continue Board meeting afterwards.