**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.