Archives December 2016

East Village to Break Ground in 2017 … And We Couldn’t Be More Excited!

Reported in the Washington Business Journal:
Foulger-Pratt is expected to break ground in 2017 on its East Village at North Bethesda Gateway, its entry into the evolving concept for White Flint as walkable mixed-use.

The Potomac-based developer, with partner ProMark Real Estate, first received concept approval from Montgomery County for the development in 2013. But it returned to county planning office in the fall for tweaks that included more residential and retail but smaller massing for the 557,918-square-foot project.

Foulger-Pratt and ProMark Real Estate plan 614 residential units in two phases at East Village will be located in the southeast quadrant of Nicholson Lane and Huff Court, to the north of the White Flint Mall and within a half mile of the White Flint Metro station. It will later connect to Rockville Pike via the Fitzgerald Auto Mall property.

Foulger-Pratt plans 614 multifamily units (built in two phases) and 38,000 square feet of retail on what is today mostly low-density 1970s office buildings and surface lots.

Dick Knapp, senior vice president of Foulger-Pratt, said the company is going for an “intimate, village feel” with moderately scaled buildings designed by BKV Group.

Phase 1 will include 382 units in a six-story building arranged around a central courtyard, as well as 24,000 square feet of retail along Nicholson Lane. Phase 2 will follow with 232 units, situated in an L-shape building above 14,000 SF of retail, and additional public areas and retail.

The project also includes three levels of underground parking for 701 cars and 100 bicycles.

East Village is part of the larger North Bethesda Gateway, an area planned for roughly 1 million square feet of non-residential (office, hotel, and retail) and 666,110 square feet of residential development. And North Bethesda Gateway is part of the even larger White Flint Sector Plan, which was approved by Montgomery County in 2011 for 9,800 new residential units and 5.69 million square feet of nonresidential development in an area bounded by Montrose Parkway, Old Georgetown Road, White Flint Mall and the CSX train tracks.

Federal Realty Investment Trust is already well underway in turning the 24.5-acre Mid-Pike Plaza into Pike & Rose, but other development plans in the area have been slow to start, partly due to staging requirements and the long-running legal disputebetween Lerner Enterprises and the Tower Cos. (the owners of the shuttered mall) and Lord & Taylor.

White Flint-area development is planned to occur over several decades in three phases — with 3,000 dwelling units and about 2 million square feet of nonresidential per phase.

Councilmember Berliner Suggests Metro Sell Its White Flint Property

As reported on Bethesda Beat:

County Council President Roger Berliner on Thursday urged the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to sell the land it owns and to use the money to improve the beleaguered system Metro system.

In a letter to Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld, Berliner said WMATA controls what may be the most valuable properties in the county, the sites of the Bethesda and White Flint Metro stations.

“Both properties could be sold, rather than leased, for substantial funds,” Berliner wrote.

In Bethesda, Brookfield Office Properties has a ground lease above the Metro station. The company plans to build a high-rise at the site once the county completes work on the Bethesda Sector Plan.

At White Flint, LCOR has been selected as the site’s master developer, Berliner’s letter said. But LCOR has failed to move forward with 4.5 million square feet of envisioned development just north of the station on Rockville Pike, he said.

In addition to generating revenue from the sale of the land, development of the properties would increase jobs and Metro ridership, Berliner said. “If you can create revenue, and riders, and help local governments create jobs, that’s the trifecta. And that’s growth,” Berliner said in a telephone interview.

Neither LCOR nor WMATA responded to requests for comment.

Berliner said the letter followed a private meeting in November with Wiedefeld and Nina Albert, WMATA’s real estate director.

“I think we’re in sync, but I look forward to their response,” he said.

If Metro sells its land, the agency would create confidence that it is maximizing its assets, especially when Metro is asking the public for higher fares and greater tax support, Berliner said.

Berliner said that part of the problem is that the federal government insists that if WMATA sells land, the money goes toward capital projects, but if WMATA leases land, the money can go to operating costs. The federal government needs to reconsider the distinction, he said.

“If we want to find money for Metro and to try to stem all these ridership losses, the broad concept is we should be doing as much as we can to use the land that Metro has,” Berliner said.

Berliner said WMATA’s real estate holdings at the Bethesda and White Flint Metro stations could bring in tens of millions of dollars. Earlier this month, Metro forecasts put the subway system’s needs at $1 billion over three years.

“Last time I checked, millions help,” Berliner said.

Which ones are your favs for the Pike District?

12 examples of urban design that ought to be in every city

You can see all twelve by clicking here at Brightside, but please enjoy a few of our favorites.


Q&A with Jill McCarthy, Director of Marketing Federal Realty Investment Trust

From Meetings Today

Tell me more about the Pike & Rose neighborhood and what it brings to Montgomery County’s offerings.
Pike & Rose is truly at the heart of it all. At the crossroads of Rockville Pike, Montrose Parkway and Old Georgetown Road, the neighborhood is centrally located at the intersection of Montgomery County, Maryland’s main thoroughfare. Pike & Rose offers urban amenities and suburban conveniences. First-to-market and unique experiences abound, including a live-music venue, AMP by Strathmore, and iPic theaters, with more on the way. Popular restaurants such as Summer House Santa Monica and Owen’s Ordinary are great meet-up spots for after-work happy hours, while our fast casuals are perfect for a quick lunch on the run. Well-known retailers, including Gap and Nike, anchor the neighborhood for great shopping. The neighborhood is rounded out by a robust event schedule for all ages, including seasonal block parties and monthly Ladies Night Out events.

What’s happening next for the development?
Phase 2 is currently under construction, and we’ll see the much anticipated opening of our next partner, REI, in spring 2017. Late summer and early fall sees the extension of Grand Park Avenue and the opening of retailers such as H&M, Sur La Table and Pinstripes. We’ll also open our third luxury residential apartment building and a public open green space, along with a number of yet-to-be announced retailers and restaurants. Early 2018 will see the opening of Canopy by Hilton, topped by 930 Rose, our now-for-sale luxury condominiums.

What are some of Pike & Rose’s offerings for business groups?
In addition to the businesses that office at Pike & Rose, including Merrill Lynch/Bank of America, Regus and Hilti, local, regional and international businesses have gathered to meet at Pike & Rose. From rental space available at AMP by Strathmore for day-long conferences and evening social events, to private dining at restaurants such as City Perch and Del Frisco’s, and more casual coffee meet-ups at La Madeleine, Carluccio’s or Starbucks, many business groups have expanded the four walls of their offices into the neighborhood for creative, informative and unique meeting and networking opportunities.

Survey Says:  More than 70% in the Pike District Would Walk More If It Were Safer

In a survey of 100 area residents conducted in November by the Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign, an overwhelming majority of respondents said they would walk more in the Pike District, if only it were safer

Other revealing findings from the survey include:

70% say driver inattention to pedestrians is the most dangerous obstacle.

Almost one half say there aren’t crosswalks where they want to cross.

44% say pushing the walk button to cross is a problem.

One third say there isn’t enough light at night to walk safely

65% of respondents walk in the Pike District three or more time a week

The survey is part of a broader effort to improve conditions for pedestrians in the Pike District. This past September, advocates, Friends of White Flint, and Coalition for Smarter Growth launched the campaign by placing pedestrian safety signs around the district. With messages like “Wish there was a crosswalk here? So do we,” the signs call attention to needed improvements and encourage walkers to join in the push for safer streets.

“In January, based on the survey results, we will prioritize the improvements that can be implemented relatively easily and inexpensively,” said Amy Ginsburg, Executive Director at Friends of White Flint. “The community will then advocate for implementing those simple changes to make walking in the Pike District as safe as possible as quickly as possible.”

Respondents to the survey noted areas where walking was not safe and gave many suggestions for ways to improve walkability in the Pike District. Here are a few comments.

“The largest danger to me are drivers who are turning right: they often don’t look right before roaring into ongoing traffic. I have almost been hit several times. The other danger are the unpleasant stretches where sidewalks are missing or badly maintained. The third problem are the long, long stretches without crosswalks or lights.”

“The slip turn lanes make it hard to cross even when I have a signal. The Pike is a highway, not a street. It is way too wide and there are so many curb cuts. It feels transgressive to walk in an area so obviously designed primarily for through-traffic and commuters.”

“We need longer, automatic walk signals on crosswalks across Rockville Pike”.