North Bethesda Market Phase II Community Meeting

JBG hopes you will all join us for a presentation of our proposed plan for North Bethesda Market Phase II. The meeting will occur on Thursday June 23rd at 7:00 PM at the Bethesda North Conference Center in the Brookside A room. This is a meeting in advance of our anticipated filing of Site Plan and Preliminary Plan of Subdivision in July.

If you have any questions, please call Greg Trimmer at The JBG Companies at 240/333.3709.

[Greg Trimmer]

White Flint to boost health and help the environment? Experts say yes.

Plan to Reduce Sprawl will Boost Health, EnvironmentBy Andres Duany and Jeff Speck

Saturday, October 16, 2010

From the billboard, a young woman’s face smiles at us against a leafy background. Scrawled across the image in a jaunty white script is a promise: “I will leave the car at home more.” The logo in the lower right-hand corner: Chevron. The ad — the equivalent of an Oscar Mayer commercial saying “Enough hot dogs for me, thanks” — is a sign of our times. Cynical “greenwashing,” guilt and amnesiac denial dominate a public discourse short on realistic paths to energy independence.

There is a deeper irony behind the billboard. In much of America — and almost all of the places built in the past half-century — the smiling woman has no choice but to take the car. She lives on a cul-de-sac in a subdivision along a collector road that leads to a state highway, and that highway leads to another collector road that leads to the office, the school, the Walmart and the gym. Often, the voyage also requires using the interstate. This is sprawl, the dominant American pattern of settlement, and sprawl, more than anything else, has cemented our relationship with oil.

Ending our love affair with the automobile, no matter how unhealthy it has become, seems overwhelmingly disruptive. Although more and wider roads lead only to more congestion, states are loath to reject federal highway dollars such as those offered in economic stimulus packages. Highways are easy things to spend money on, so who cares if what they stimulate is sprawl?

The issue is not new for urban planners. We have been talking about it for 30 years, first as an aesthetic problem and then as a social concern: children and the elderly lacking independence, overburdened soccer moms and dads, massive income-based segregation and all that time wasted in traffic.

But the debate has changed now that sprawl has been identified as a contributor to some major challenges to our well-being: oil dependency, climate change and skyrocketing health-care costs. These crises have causes beyond sprawl, but sprawl may be the only one they all share. With oil dependency covered, let’s address the other two.

What seems least often mentioned in the discussion of climate change and our “carbon footprint” is the role of city planning. The sustainable-building movement is fixated on gizmos — “what can I buy for my house to make it greener?” — but the thing that really matters is location. Households in downtown Chicago produce one-quarter the greenhouse gases of households in nearby suburban Kane County, and that’s not because of more efficient appliances. Yet with all the investment in a low-carbon future, how much money is used to encourage migration to city centers?

There are many factors in the rise of health-care costs, but a big one is our excess weight. Thirty-two percent of adult Americans are obese, and obesity contributes to many serious illnesses, most prominently diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that one-third of American children born after 2000 will become diabetic. Diabetes is an expensive disease, consuming 2 percent of gross domestic product.

Obesity is mostly a matter of calories consumed and calories burned. Much attention has justifiably been paid to Americans’ diet, but relatively little to the factors that hamper physical activity. Our community planners have taken away from us that most salubrious of activities, the walk. Comparisons of walkable cities and auto-dependent suburbs yield some eye-opening information — for example, the fact that people living in walkable areas are 2.5 times as likely as those in the least walkable areasto achieve their CDC-recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity.

And consider car crashes, the greatest cause of injury and death among young people. These are concentrated in our least walkable metropolitan areas. If the entire country shared New York City’s traffic death rate, we would save more than 25,000 lives a year, equal every six weeks to the number killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Yet which issue has had a greater influence on U.S. policy?

Oil dependency, climate change and health-care costs are but three of a growing list of ills, rapidly becoming crises, that give us reason to look again at how we build our communities and what policy can do about it. American suburbanization did not happen by accident; it was heavily subsidized by federal and state dollars, most powerfully in the form of highway funds. The first step to a solution is to reduce incentives for sprawl, including new highways or highway lanes. If we have learned one thing from the suburban experiment, it is that you can’t grow a green economy on blacktop.

Andres Duany and Jeff Speck are city planners and co-authors of “The Smart Growth Manual” (2010) as well as “Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream” (2000), just re-released on its 10th anniversary.

Greg Trimmer

North Bethesda Market Delivers

The JBG Companies is thrilled to be reaching completion on North Bethesda Market, a 650,000 SF mixed-use project 2 blocks from the White Flint Metro station.  North Bethesda Market offers 397 residences in two distinct buildings, a 24-story hi-rise and a 6-story mid-rise with abundant ground floor retail.

The apartments are now leasing, and the first residents moved in last weekend.  The community has over 200,000 SF of retail including Whole Foods Market, LA Fitness, Arhaus, and Seasons 52.  The first retailer is anticipated to open by the end of the year.   The two residential buildings and ground floor retail are anchored by an interior “paseo” that will feature a unique custom art piece by renowned sculptor Jim Sanborn.

In addition, we are pleased to announce that the newly constructed extension of Executive Boulevard connecting Woodglen Drive to Rockville Pike opened to traffic yesterday. 

Notably, North Bethesda Market has the tallest residential tower in Montgomery County and has been recognized by the Washington Smart Growth Alliance.

For more information, please view the website at NorthBethesdaMarket.com or follow us on twitter.com/NBethesdaMarket and facebook.com/NorthBethesdaMarket.

Greg Trimmer

TOD Database

Transit Oriented Database Launched

 

The Center for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) launched a first-of-its-kind online database to provide access to comprehensive information about more than 4,000 transit zones across the United States. The web tool will help developers, investors, and city officials make planning decisions that take advantage of development opportunities around transit nodes.

 

Link: http://www.smartgrowth.org/news/article.asp?art=7820

 

Greg Trimmer

Recent Studies Suggest that White Flint is the Remedy for County’s Revenue Shortfalls

NEW URBAN NEWS, Volume 15, Number 6 – September 2010

“Best bet for tax revenue: mixed-use downtown development”

Studies in Florida and North Carolina show that dense urban development pays off for local governments. Big-box retail doesn’t.

At a time when local governments are struggling financially, two studies – one in Sarasota County, Florida, the other in Asheville, North Carolina – suggest the one of the best fiscal remedies is dense, mixed-use development.

                The studies, by Public Interest Projects, a real estate development firm in downtown Asheville, show that on a per-acre basis, sprawling single-use developments such as big-box stores do a poor job of providing governments with needed tax revenue. Dense, mixed-use development, usually downtown or adjacent to transit, is financially much more beneficial.

                Peter Katz, director of smart growth/urban planning for Sarasota County, commissioned J. Patrick Whalen, Jr. and Joseph Minicozzi of Public Interest Projects to analyze how much property tax is produced per acre by various kinds of development. Looking at specific properties – from high-rise buildings in the City of Sarasota’s downtown to big-box stores and shopping malls across the country – the researchers discovered that dense, mixed-use urban development is far superior.

                From a tax revenue-per-acre (versus per lot or per household) perspective, the properties that are typically occupied by retailers like Walmart, Costco, and Sam’s Club turn out to be very disappointing. They generate about $8,350 per acre – “maybe $150 to $200 more per acre per year than single-family houses in the city like mine,” Katz says.

                The county’s premier mall, Westfield Southgate, anchored by Macy’s, Dillard’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue, was found to produce almost $22,000 per acre – nearly three times as much as a big-box center. “This is not surprising, given that it’s a higher-quality building in a better, close-in location (actually within the City of Sarasota),” Katz notes.

                Yet even a top-of-the-line mall pales in comparison to the per-acre revenue obtainable from dense urban development. A 17-story mixed-use building occupying .75 acres on Main Street downtown generates $1.01 million annually in city and county taxes, according to Katz. That building, completed in May 2007, which has retail in its base, several floors of offices, and then condominiums in the upper levels, produces $1.2 million per acre in county property taxes alone. “It would take about 145 acres of Walmarts – or five of them, to be precise – to equal the contribution of that one downtown building,” says Katz.

                “Even a mid-rise mixed-use building – about seven to nine stories – in the downtown brings in a healthy amount per year, from the mid-$500,000s to just under $800,000,” he says. “Low-rise construction – just two or three stories, with housing or offices over retail – the kind of ‘town center’ redevelopment now replacing many older suburban shopping areas, can bring in around $70-90,000 per acre. The high end of that range is more than four times that of the county’s highest earning mall,” Katz emphasizes.

                Similar patterns were found in Asheville and Buncombe County, North Carolina. Per acre, the best generator of county property taxes in the Asheville area was urban residential buildings of six stories or more, says Minicozzi. Ranking below those as tax generators were mixed-use condos of 3 to 4 stories and urban mixed-use buildings of 2 to 4 stories.

ALWAYS HIGHER RETURN

                “Downtowns achieve a higher rate of return than an acre of suburban development could ever do,” Minicozzi says. The reason is simple: “Once you start getting two stories, you start getting twice as much value.” As buildings go higher while covering much or all of their ground, the revenue escalates.

                Minicozzi argues that a municipality should look at tax revenue per acre just as a farmer looks at income per acre: “Urban development produces a valuable yield, like that of a cash crop, while low-density suburban development is the equivalent of growing an acre of grass. By our estimates, suburban development doesn’t even cover the cost of the infrastructure that serves it in a reasonable period of time.”

                When land and buildings are included, the suburban Asheville Mall produces taxes of $7,995 per acre for the county. That’s slightly more than the yield from one- and two-story buildings in the central business district. But keep in mind that many downtown buildings surpass the mall in tax contributions.

Greg Trimmer

White Flint a match for Generation Y consumer desires

Generation Y Giving Cars a Pass

The generation gap is a growing, long-term headache for automakers.

By Jim Ostroff

Selling cars to young adults under 30 is proving to be a real challenge for automakers. Unlike their elders, Generation Yers own fewer cars and don’t drive much. They’re likely to see autos as a source of pollution, not as a sex or status symbol.Motorists aged 21 to 30 now account for 14% of miles driven, down from 21% in 1995.  They’re more apt to ride mass transit to work and use car sharing services — pioneered by Zipcar — for longer trips.  And car sharing choices are expanding, with car rental firms moving into the market, making it convenient for young folks to rent with hourly rates and easy insurance. Connect by Hertz, for example, is rolling out its car sharing services in the New York metropolitan area, with plans to eventually expand them to around 40 college campuses nationwide.

The trend won’t cause car sales to tank, of course, but the generational shift doesn’t bode well for manufacturers and auto dealers, which for decades have counted on wooing young new drivers to their brands in hopes of cementing lifetime customer relationships.Gen Yers are a big potential market: At 80 million strong, they represent the biggest generation in U.S. history. Baby boomers are a close second, but millions of them begin turning 65 next year — an age at which car purchases drop off sharply.“It’s a matter of mind-set far more than affordability,” says William Draves, president of Learning Resources Network, an association that studies consumer trends and provides education and training services.“This generation focuses its buying on computers, BlackBerrys, music and software and views commuting a few hours by car a huge productivity waste when they can work using PDAs while taking the bus and train,” says Draves.Moreover, in survey after survey, Gen Yers say that they believe cars are damaging to the environment.  Even hybrid electric vehicles don’t seem to be changing young consumers’ attitudes much. 

Greg Trimmer

White Flint Sector Plan on the correct road to pedestrian safety

NEW URBAN NEWS  Volume 15, Number 5 – July/August 2010

To save lives, shift from arterial roads

Arterial roads – especially those with heavy traffic volumes, high speeds, and strip commercial developments such as big-box stores – are undermining Americans’ safety. The extent of the danger was investigated recently by Eric Dumbaugh and Wenhao Li of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M.

The researchers’ findings bolster the argument that more of America’s transportation system ought to take the form of relatively narrow roadways linked by sidewalks – the kind of network that enhances public safety. The findings – which are based on a study of traffic accidents in metropolitan San Antonio from 2003 through 2007 – were presented by Dumbaugh during CNU-18 in Atlanta.

Arterial roads – wide roadways designed to carry large volumes of vehicular traffic, faster than on neighborhood streets – are associated with a 14 percent increase in collisions involving two or more vehicles, a 10 percent increase in vehicles running into pedestrians, and 8.4 percent more vehicle-bicyclist crashes, according to Dumbaugh.

The heightened danger, he explained, results from three factors: First, arterial roads encourage faster speeds, partly because they’re so wide. Second, they attract more vehicular traffic. Third, the many driveways along the arterials, which provide direct connections to businesses and parking lots, multiply opportunities for accidents.

Dumbaugh and Li correlated crash statistics from metro San Antonio with the size and configuration of land uses along the region’s roads. Among their findings:

  •          For every additional strip commercial use, there was a 2.4 percent rise in multiple-vehicle collisions. The speed of the vehicles entering and leaving the parking lots presumably accounted for many of the accidents.
  •          For each additional big-box store (a single-story building of at least 50,000 sq. ft., accompanied by a parking area at least that size) there was an 8.7 percent jump in multiple-vehicle collisions. There were also increases of 8.9 percent in vehicle-pedestrian crashes and 4.6 percent in vehicle-bicyclist accidents. The greater risk associated with big-box stores probably stemmed from the stores’ heavy traffic volume and from the extra-large parking lots the motorists has to navigate.
  •          When retail was scaled to pedestrians, the environment became safer. For each pedestrian-scaled retail use – occupying a building of no more than 20,000 sq. ft. that fronted the street or had little surface space devoted to parking – there was a 3.4 percent decrease in multiple-vehicle crashes and a 1.6 percent decrease in accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians.
  •          Denser development in beneficial from a safety perspective. Higher densities cut the number of vehicle miles traveled, which reduces the frequency of crashes. Higher densities also encourage urban development configurations, which also make crashes less numerous.
  •          Crashes of vehicles into fixed objects account for nearly a third of the nation’s traffic deaths, and these single-vehicle accidents are exacerbated by arterial roadways. A chief cause is high speeds; when the vehicle turns from the road onto a driveway or side street, the driver loses control and hits a utility pole or some other stationary object.
  •          “Traffic conflicts” (where one’s stream of auto traffic intersects with other traffic movements) also are common in traditional urban designs. But they are much less dangerous there because vehicles move more slowly on narrower urban streets.

Dumbaugh also examined how crash rates differ between arterial roadways and “livable streets” (historic main streets generally accompanied by street trees, street lighting, and pedestrian appurtenances. Per mile traveled, livable streets have 40 percent fewer midblock crashes and 67 percent fewer crashes overall.  DANGERS TO TEENS

            Teen-agers in particular are placed in greater jeopardy by a sprawling form of development, says Dr. Michael Trowbridge of the University of Virginia. Trowbridge says teen-agers are much more likely to drive 20 miles a day if they’re in the midst of a sprawl. In all, 46.8 of teens drive 20 miles per day in sprawl, while only 21.7 percent of teens in compact urban settings drive that distance.

            With more miles on the road comes a greater risk of injury or death. Approximately 43,000 Americans per year are killed in auto accidents. For every teen-ager who dies as the result of an auto accident, 400 others sustain serious injuries, and 18 are hospitalized.

            “For every age group from 3 to 33 in Atlanta, the leading cause of death is traffic crashes,” says Dr. Richard Jackson of the UCLA School of Public Health. Jackson says some cities offer lessons in how to save lives. If the US had the same traffic fatality rate as Portland, Oregon, the number of deaths nationwide would be reduced by 15,000, he says. “If the whole country had the New York City rate, there would be 24,000 fewer deaths per year.” 

[Posted by Greg Trimmer]

More Data Demonstrating Value of Walkable Communities

Has Sprawl Recovered Enough for the National Economy?

·Christopher LeinbergerVisiting Fellow, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program·     
January 27, 2010 | 12:09 pm·   

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Alabama and University of Florida, sponsored by the Natural Resource Defense Council , shows that car-dependent communities have statistically higher rates of mortgage foreclosure than communities with multiple transportation options, such as transit, biking and walking. This also explains to some extent why across the country that “walkable urban” home values over the past two years have been flat or slightly down while fringe “drivable sub-urban” communities have suffered the worst price declines. The average American household spends 17 percent of their pre-tax income on transportation, 94 percent of this amount is for ownership and maintenance of cars. However when the data are disaggregated, drivable sub-urban households spend about 25 percent on transportation while walkable urban households only spend about 9 percent. This 16 percent difference represents well over a trillion dollars in households spending each year. If this spending was redeployed from cars to housing, education, and savings, it would be a major economic driver (excuse the pun). 

The major implication of this study is on the largest peace-time intervention in the American economy by the federal government, and, no, it’s not the bank bailouts. As reported on the front page of the Washington Post earlier this week, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have spent well over $1 trillion over the past year in propping up the securitized mortgage market and assuming untold risk of further mortgage defaults in the future. This is more than the bailout of the banks, AIG, and the car companies combined.

This mortgage bailout and the assumption of huge future risks were made in the hope that troubled housing, much of it on the fringe, will stabilize and regain its value. To some extent, it is a bet that sprawling development will recover its previously inflated value, a wager I’d decline. The Post story also mentioned that these federal props are being dismantled and will be gone by the end of the first quarter of this year. Two months later, the federal tax credit for the purchase of new homes will end as well. The obvious question is whether the housing market can stand on its own or will it push the economy back into recession; the feared “W” scenario experienced in the 1930s and in the early 1980s. The worst outcome of all would be if the bailout of housing, and particularly sprawl, left us without the resources to invest, especially on infrastructure and transportation choices, in the future. 

Greg Trimmer