Archives July 2014

Walking is for All Ages

I’m often approached by older and more established residents who are concerned that the focus in White Flint is too heavily placed on drawing millenials, rather than attracting and keeping retirees.   In those conversations, I’ve pointed to several ways that the new White Flint will serve residents all along the age spectrum.  People at all stages of life are choosing to go car-free more and more.  Having the option to comfortably and safely walk is welcome when aging residents no longer wish to drive.

Experts agree that our environment affects our health and our longevity.  Daily activity and socialization provide a measurable boost to those living in quality neighborhoods.  Recently, William Satariano, a professor of epidemiology and community health at UC-Berkley, spoke on this very subject in an article for  From that article:

Satariano and other experts say the relationship a person has to the surrounding environment becomes crucial as his or her body wears down. One-third to one-half of adults 65 or older are estimated to be physically impaired.

Lack of physical activity can lead to diminished muscle mass, osteoporosis and obesity, as well as isolation and depression, studies show. Those with limited mobility have a higher risk of needing health services, being institutionalized and prematurely dying.

These problems seem certain to increase as those in the Boomer generation become senior citizens. From 2000 to 2010, the 65-and-older population grew 15 percent to 40 million people, according to census data, making them the largest and fastest-growing demographic in the United States.

The South and Southwest regions of the country are aging the fastest, but the highest concentrations of seniors are in Florida, the Northeast and the Midwest, according to a Brookings Institution analysis. Suburbs are generally aging more rapidly than cities.

With those trends in mind, Satariano and others have set out to try to identify the elements of a neighborhood that encourage walking.

“If we have a good idea of those things, perhaps we can incorporate them into neighborhood design,” Satariano said.

Read the full piece from by clicking here!

Check out Strathmore’s Appetite Festival This Weekend



Strathmore is hosting the Appetite: A Gastronomic Experience food festival this weekend!  Starting Friday, August 1st, attendees can enjoy a Happy Hour at 5 pm and hear from celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis at 7 pm. Continuing on to Saturday, August 2nd, attendees can participate in the festival events from 11 am- 7:15 pm, with another happy hour at 5 pm and a talk from Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern at 7:30 pm.

The festival events include both indoor and outdoor events such as talks from celebrity chefs, live food demonstrations from local chefs, live music from local bands, food trucks, and local food stands. For more details about the events at the festival and price information, check out their website.

The festival will be held at Strathmore, located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda 20852, right next to the Grosvenor/Strathmore metro station. Festival events will take place inside the Music Center, The Mansion, and outside.

Rapid Transit Booth at Montgomery County Agricultural Fair

As Bethesda Now mentioned, last week David Hauck, Executive Director of Communities for Transit, told our happy hour attendees that Communities for Transit will have a booth at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair starting on Friday, August 8th. On August 12th, Isiah Leggett will attend the fair to discuss the Bus Rapid Transit program for the county in a press conference.

Communities for Transit will provide more information about the bus rapid transit program for the county to fair-goers. Route 355/ Rockville Pike is one of the bus rapid transit corridors for the program and it goes right through the White Flint sector.

For more information about bus rapid transit, check out Communities for Transit and come visit their booth starting August 8th.

Urban Park Designs Influence the Health of City Residents

Parks in cities are more than just pretty places to sit and relax.  They have positive effects on community health. The design of a park “plays a crucial role in how much it is used and, therefore, what level of impact it can make” on community residents.

Jeff Caldwell from UrbDeZine Chicago decided to examine various designs and forms of urban parks, which all have positive effects on the community’s health.

Minneapolis/St.Paul has a park that is includes five different lakes, called the Chain of Lakes. This park encourages residents to be physically active in more than one outdoor activity. The Wissahickon Park in Philadelphia improves residents’ health by keeping the water clean. The park “absorb[s] and clean[s] the polluted run-off water from surfaces before it can hit the waterway.” Lincoln Park in Chicago is designed to include different features that “draw different races and ethnicities” to the park. Groups of people have different preferences in what they like in parks and types of activities in which they want to participate. Ruff House Dog Park in Richmond provides space for dog lovers to be active with their dogs. And finally, Caldwell focuses on Portland, Oregon. Portland has about 10,000 acres of parkland in the city. The city truly prioritizes parks and benefits they provide for community members.

Caldwell shows us that there are many park forms but they all have something in common: they help us improve our health and well-being. Providing open park space in the White Flint sector is important to us, which is why we continue to advocate for the Wall Park development.

Dave & Buster’s Ordered out of White Flint Mall

We learned yesterday that Dave & Buster’s has lost its battle to stay open in its existing White Flint Mall location.  Their lawsuit against the mall was dismissed and they were ordered to vacate the premises within 30 days – no word yet on when they’ll close.

Read more – including the court order – at Bethesda Beat by clicking here.  The lawsuit filed by Lord & Taylor is still pending but the injunction portion of that action has been lifted so, at the moment, there are no legal barriers of that nature halting the mall from moving forward with redevelopment.

Techniques to Make Places More Walkable

Jeff Speck is a global authority on the concept of “new urbanism,” and he happens to be local.  His book, Walkable City, is considered a near-treatise on why we’d want to transform car-oriented areas into places that are safe to navigate regardless of your mode of transportation.  But, who of us often has time to read such a book?

Luckily, The Atlantic’s CityLab has broken down Speck’s 10 major techniques for making places more walkable.  I’ll list them below but click here to read the full article, complete with justifications and explanations for each:

“1. Put Cars in their Place

2. Mix the Uses

3. Get the Parking Right

4. Let Transit Work

5. Protect the Pedestrian

6. Welcome Bikes

7. Shape the Spaces

8. Plant Trees

9. Make Friendly and Unique [Building] Faces

10. Pick Your Winners”

Click here for the whole piece and to understand what each of these mean.  Keep an eye out for them in the new White Flint!


Restaurants Draw Individuals to Urban Areas

What draws you to visit or live in urban areas? A recent study completed by Sasaki Associates found that “food is a major driver of the American urban experience.” Sasaki Associates, a planning and design firm hired a research firm to survey 1,000 people from six different cities across the U.S.: Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Having places to eat and drink is what draws individuals to live and visit urban areas. There are many reasons why restaurants and other food infrastructures are so important to us. Restaurants are multifaceted; they can be used for meeting others, market/trading spaces or even just for plain eating.  This is why restaurants become staples in communities. The survey also found that individuals living in urban areas want local food and community-focused events around food. Components such as farmer’s markets and food trucks that bring in local-grown and sourced food to the urban area are extremely important to urbanites.

Restaurants are necessary elements of “mixed-use development and urban retail,” drawing individuals to live, work, and play all in the same area. Here in the White Flint sector, creating mixed-use developments are key to bring growth and change to the area. Restaurants and other food options will be necessary features in these developments in order to draw in residents and visitors to the White Flint sector.

What other components are important to your urban experience? Let us know!



Updates on Gables Residential Project

**Post is updated to correct information about the Western Workaround, VOB property, and the phases of the Gables Project**


In lieu of Gables Residential bringing their White Flint site plan to the Planning Board in the near future, Ed Meder, from Gables Residential, presented their plan to the White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Committee this past week. Gables first presented their sketch plan to the Planning board back in October 2013. Since this approval, many challenges have prevented Gables from moving forward with the plan.

One major challenge is the ability to change the shape of the property from a triangle to a rectangle. To change the shape requires high-trafficked streets have to been realigned. This realignment called the Western Workaround consists of reworking Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard, and creating new streets to ease traffic. Right now, the land is owned by the County but the land is also being held by JBG, who holds a first right of refusal on the property. Though Gables does not own the property yet in which they need to make into a rectangle, they will continue to plan their project.

Another challenge this project faces is that we cannot built through the VOB property yet. As part of the White Flint Sector Plan process, it was insisted that all right of ways for streets would be dedicated by the property owners and no funding would be needed from the County. The County is working with VOB to dedicate the street.

In addition, another challenged faced by Gables is the funding for the shared parking lot.  This site is situated right next to the Wall Park/ Shriver Aquatic center lot. As part of Gables’ plan, the large surface parking lot surround the Aquatic Center will be taken away to create a larger open public space, adding to the existing Wall Park. Since the parking lot will be destroyed, parking for the Aquatic Center must be created elsewhere. That is where the Gables site comes in. They hope to create a shared parking garage with spaces for individuals using the aquatic center, residents of the Gables apartments, and visitors to the development. The county must first acquire funding for this shared parking lot project before anything can happen, but there is no CIP project or plan for this project yet. This project will not break ground until the funding for the parking lot is secured.

The Gables White Flint development consists of three different buildings: West Building, Center Building, and East Building. The West Building will have residential units. The Center building will have both residential and retail. And the East Building will be retail. Overall, there will be about 476 residential units. All the buildings will access to the parking structure, which will have close to 970 parking spots.

In addition, there will be two public outdoor courtyards, one courtyard will also house the pool for the residents. These outdoor spaces provide great areas for activities and programming to take place.

The goal is to make this area look and feel like a neighborhood. The buildings will be at medium scale with no overwhelming structures.  It is great for the White Flint sector to have a mix of scales in their buildings. The design of the buildings will also include familiar materials such as glass and brick, to also enhance the neighborhood feel of the area. Similarly, the design of the site could accommodate for future changes, allowing Gables to build extensions if need be in the future.

In addition, there will a Capital Bikeshare station in the development, which will attract more cyclists to the area. There will be good bikeway access to the area as well, with shared-use paths on both sides of the street that this project will face, Grand Park Avenue.

Although the western workaround and road realignment is included in the latest capital budget (CIP FY15-20 budget) for the county, the public portion of the garage is not so it may take a while before the project takes off. We look forward to all the changes that will come with project.

Community Involvement and Advocacy Matter

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about the Rapid Transit system coming to Montgomery County. A recent development in the planning of the Georgia Avenue route highlights why community involvement, attention and advocacy is crucial in plans like these.

As David Hauck from Communities for Transit writes on the Greater Greater Washington blog,  the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) has released an outlandish proposal for how the route will travel down Georgia Avenue.  In it, the SHA says that proper implementation of rapid transit would require widening Georgia, to the tune of destroying 34 residences, a business and a church on one stretch alone.  This revelation, understandably, has caused widespread community pushback.  But, as Hauck neatly lays out, the plan is flawed with bad measurements and missing explanations.  As he explains, SHA has greatly overstated the impact of the route – but, why would they do that?  Read the full piece by clicking here then send SHA your own comments by clicking here.

Without an advocate like David Hauck paying attention and crying foul, this type of misinformation might have panicked the community into fighting this game-changing transit opportunity.  This work is also at the heart of what we do here at Friends of White Flint — we keep our eyes open and we keep ourselves engaged so that White Flint’s redevelopment marches forward to reach its full potential.

Don’t take our word on this!  Come to our Transit Happy Hour on Wednesday evening and learn more for yourself.  Communities for Transit, Coalition for Smarter Growth and Friends of White Flint are hosting a casual get-together to chat about rapid transit and anything else that comes up!  We’ll be in the bar area at Paladar Latin Kitchen, 11333 Woodglen Drive, from 5:30-7:30pm.  Learn more and RSVP by clicking here!  Looking forward to seeing you Wednesday!


A Take on Streetsense’s Bethesda Beer and Banter Event

Wednesday evening I attended the Streetsense’s “Beer and Banter” event. Many Millenials, Generation Xs and even a few Baby Boomers attended the event, which was great to see. The event was focused on Millenials who live, work, and/or play in the Bethesda Sector to give them a space to express their needs and wants for the developing region. Besides the amazing free food from local restaurants offered at the event, there were many opportunities to learn more about the expansion plan for Bethesda sector and to give input on what is missing in the region and what we want to see come to area.

As a millennial who grew up in Rockville, I have spent many years shopping and eating in the Bethesda area. I have witnessed the population and economic growth of the region. What I found interesting is that many millenials I spoke with at this event did not grow up in the region and have moved here for job opportunities. The area has many attractive qualities: close proximity to public transportation, shops, restaurants, and bars, which is why so many people from all over have moved there. Bethesda is working on expanding these attractions, which will help with their economic growth. Similarly in the White Flint sector, we hope that our redevelopments will attract all kinds of people and bring positive economic growth to this region.

There were many discussions around transportation and safety issues in the region. Bethesda is full of many high-trafficked roads that are only designed for one mode of transportation, cars. Many millenials hope that these roads can be redesigned to become complete streets, giving room for cyclists and pedestrians. This issue mirrors issues faced by the White Flint sector as well. The county is working hard to create more complete streets through the sector so pedestrians and cyclists feel comfortable and safe using different forms of transportation.

Another major topic many individuals were discussing was affordable housing options for millenials. Millenials do not necessarily have a large income to spend on housing, so providing options for affordable housing is a major selling point. Providing affordable housing is also something important the White Flint sector needs to consider. One of the easiest ways to attract more millenials and young professionals to the region is to provide lower to moderately priced housing units. In addition, affordable housing will ultimately lead to more spending on other items such as amenities because the individuals have larger expendable incomes if they paying less for their housing.

This was a smart event that White Flint might consider as a way to check in with the community as build-out moves forward.  What types of events would you like to see from us?  Comment below or email us at