Washington Business Journal reporter Daniel J. Sernovitz recently wrote a lengthy article about the White Flint area that looks in depth into the strengths and weaknesses of our community from a development perspective. The article, titled The Hunt for HQ2: How a former shopping mall could become Amazon’s second home, centered around Amazon’s search for a second headquarters also looks at the rest of the developing area and is very much worth a read. It begins:
The seeds of White Flint’s economic revival were planted years before Amazon.com Inc. kicked off its search for a second headquarters, and some have already borne fruit for Montgomery County and Maryland.
The proof can be seen in patches along Rockville Pike, the area’s main commercial drag, with new developments like the Whole Foods-anchored North Bethesda Market. And yet, strip retail centers and aging office buildings still define the landscape, a reminder of how far the corridor has to go to become the grand pedestrian-oriented boulevard county leaders envision.
Montgomery County’s 2010 White Flint sector plan was designed to effect that change, setting the stage for 17.6 million square feet of new development spread over 430 acres. Much of that exists only as plans on paper and glossy renderings, lacking an anchor tenant or sufficient financing to make it a reality.
Friends of White Flint executive director Amy Ginsburg is quoted twice in the article.
Proponents like Amy Ginsburg, executive director of the Friends of White Flint, a group that seeks to further the goals laid out in the county’s sector plan, hope Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos wants to be that change agent.
“We’re just in this awkward stage where we’re not where we were five years ago, when all we had were strip malls, but we’re not at that point where we’re walkable,” Ginsburg said. “In Arlington, and D.C., and most of the other sites, it’s a done deal, you get what’s already there, but in White Flint, you can be a part of the process where you can help shape that.”
Those improvements are likely to be disruptive for area residents and employees in the near term, but Ginsburg sees the longer-term payoff as far outweighing the temporary inconvenience that comes with new construction and traffic improvement projects.
“I think the community, as a whole, would just be revitalized,” Ginsburg said. “Now, to get to that point, there will be a couple of years of pain as all those projects are constructed, so I think it’s worth those two years of frustration for the innumerable long-term benefits to infrastructure, roads, transit and schools.”