As office-centric downtowns struggle, suburbs cater to the laptop crowd

From The Washington Post

In North Bethesda, Zoom breaks take place at a dog park “social club” steps from trendy eateries and shops. Elsewhere, suburban shopping centers are adding WiFi to new outdoor plazas and, in at least one case, a bocce ball court.

While central business districts like downtown Washington continue to struggle as more than half of office workers stay away, many suburbs have rebounded by courting suburbanites who have settled in after more than two years of mostly working from home.

The pandemic also accelerated long-standing pre-pandemic trends toward walkable suburban developments and the “third place” — public gathering spots like coffee shops and bookstores, where people can connect beyond home and work.

The less frequent commute also prompted some city dwellers, particularly younger people and young families, to move farther out for more space and outdoor living during the pandemic, bringing new customers to the suburbs.

Stuart Biel and Mike Ennes of North Bethesda-based Federal Realty, said suburban developments also benefit from Americans reconsidering during the pandemic how to better control their time,including by commuting less and making shorter trips to shop and socialize.

Weekday foot traffic this year has been up about 10 percent over pre-pandemic levels at two of Federal Realty’s major developments in Montgomery County: Pike & Rose in North Bethesda and Wildwood Shopping Center in Bethesda, Ennes said. Customers also are spending 6 percent more time during visits, and tenants’ sales are up in the “high single-digit range” over 2019, he said.

Read the entire article here.

Give MCDOT your opinion on the North Bethesda BRT

As you may know, Montgomery County is studying Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in North Bethesda connecting the Westfield Montgomery Mall with either the White Flint or Grosvenor-Strathmore Metrorail station. They hope to reach a wide, diverse audience to attend these meetings and learn about and provide input on this project.

Help us plan for fast, reliable bus service!

The North Bethesda bus rapid transit planning study is underway to connect the Westfield Montgomery Mall Transit Center to either the White Flint or Grosvenor-Strathmore Metrorail station. Please engage with them on this project by visiting their webpage or attending one of the upcoming open houses.

  • Online Open House #1
  • In-Person Open House
    • Monday, June 13, 2022 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
    • Location: Davis Library 6400 Democracy Blvd, Bethesda, MD 20817
  • Online Open House #2

RCA Music Fest 2022

SATURDAY, JUNE 11, 2022 AT 5 PM – 8 PM

4916 Boiling Brook Pkwy, Rockville, MD 20852-2306, United States

Come enjoy our RCA’s Music Fest with musical performances from your neighbors as well as food, and beer from True Respite:
Featuring music performances by:
– Keeping Time (blues, jazz, pop)
– Eric Wisotzky (acoustic rock)
– Mark Nensel (acoustic rock) 

Hosted by  Randolph Civic Association and True Respite Brewing Company

Improving the Trolley Trail

MCDOT is working on a project to improve the Trolley Trail. The goals are:

  • Explore alignment alternatives to expand the Bethesda Trolley Trail (BTT) and develop a wayfinding plan to connect to regional trails and neighborhoods.
  • Evaluate existing and proposed off-road and on-road bicycle facilities between Edson Ln and Woodglen Dr to Twinbrook Metro station.
  • Identify gaps in the overall bicycle network in North Bethesda.
  • Engage major stakeholders and community members to gather feedback

Read the full report by clicking here.

The next steps are:

  • Review Relevant Previous Plan & Studies (May 2022)
  • Existing Conditions Analysis (May 2022)
  • First Public Meeting (July 2022)

Check out this flyover view of the new Woodward High School

MCPS has released a “flyover” of what Charles W. Woodward High School will look like upon its completion (video available below). The school originally opened in 1966. Two decades later, in 1987, its students were merged into Walter Johnson High School. Woodward and Walter Johnson High Schools had the same diminished enrollment levels, but MCPS decided to preserve Walter Johnson given the schools larger capacity.

The first phase of construction is scheduled to be complete by September of 2023, when the new building will serve as a holding school for Northwood High School as Northwood gets an addition and whole-facility upgrade. Phase II construction will take place during the 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 school years and will be ready for Woodward High School to reopen officially for the 2025-2026 school year.

Bike to Work Day is Friday

Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 20, 2022. Enjoy nearly 100 pit stops in DC, MD, and VA for this FREE event for a healthy way to start your day. The North Bethesda pit stop is at Pike & Rose. Friends of White Flint will be there — stop by to say hello.

Here is the list of all the Montgomery County pit stops:

Bethesda – Downtown

FDA White Oak

Friendship Heights

Gaithersburg – Kentlands

Gaithersburg – Olde Towne Plaza (Afternoon)

Silver Spring – Downtown at Veterans Plaza

National Institutes of Health Bldg 1

Naval Support Activity Bethesda

North Bethesda at Pike & Rose

Rockville Fallsgrove Village Center

Rockville Town Square

Takoma Park – Downtown/Old Takoma

Takoma Park – Sligo Creek Trail

The first 15,000 who register and attend at a pit stop by bike will receive a FREE T-shirt. Free giveaways, food, and beverages, while supplies last.

North Bethesda BRT Corridor Advisory Committee (CAC) Meeting #2 May 24

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation is pleased to be advancing the North Bethesda BRT planning study and will be holding the second CAC meeting on May 24th, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. via Zoom. We will provide updates on the ongoing analysis as well as the initial results of the termini screening. In addition, we will review upcoming outreach efforts and lay out the work ahead for the CAC.

Please register to attend the North Bethesda BRT CAC virtual meeting. A recording of the meeting as well as any presentation materials will be available after the meeting on the project website.

Improving the grassy area around the White Flint metro station

WMATA has asked LCOR to do the following improvements on Parcel B in the grassy area between Harris Teeter and Rockville Pike.

  • Design & Entitle Permanent Roads at Chapman and McGrath
  • Clear & Grade Parcel B and Roads
  • Install Sewer/Storm/Water Utilities to Support Future Development
  • Install Curb/Gutter, Streetscape and Hardscape
  • Install Hardscape and Plantings for Parcel B

In 28 months, when this project is completed, Parcel B will be used as a public green for events, such as outdoor fitness classes, outdoor concerts, and other fun community gatherings.

Learn more by clicking here.

MD 187 Needs Analysis from SHA

Maryland Dept. of Transportation and the State Highway Administration recently completed a comprehensive Needs Analysis for MD 187 (Old Georgetown Road) between McKinley Street in Bethesda, and Tilden Lane/Nicholson Lane in White Flint. This document outlines a long-term vision for the corridor by identifying strategies to address pedestrian and bicycle network deficiencies, enhance multi-modal safety and improve travel conditions along the corridor.

You can read the entire report here.

The study divides the corridor into seven segments and considers options for each segment to address pedestrian and bicycle deficiencies; enhance multi-modal safety; and improve travel conditions. Some of the analysis for each segment is general (e.g., paint zebra stripes at crossings) and some are more specific (e.g., eliminate particular right turns on red). The recommendations are also divided into near-term, mid-term, and long-term plans.

White Flint Implementation Committee Meeting Tonight

White Flint-North Bethesda Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee

Virtual Meeting- Via Microsoft Teams

Monday, May 9, 2022 7 p.m.

To attend, please reach out to Nkosi Yearwood at

  1. Welcome
  2. Updates and Reports
    1. Development projects
    1. New members: Mr. Marc ‘Kap’ Kapastin, Mr. Charles B. Andrews, Dr. Jacob Krampt, Ms. Suzanne Beckner, and Mr. Ephraim Harel
    1. Open Meetings Act
  1. Development Ombudsman (Tom Lewis, Office of the County Executive)
  2. Presentation: Bethesda Trolley Trail Feasibility Study (Pat Shepherd, MCDOT)
  3. Other topics
    1. Eric Grosse