Category Development Projects

Montgomery County Council Overrides “More Housing at Metrorail Stations Act” Veto

The Montgomery County Council has overridden a veto of the “More Housing at Metrorail Stations Act,” a major housing initiative for Metrorail stations, according to a county press release.

Originally enacted on Oct. 6, the new act has “the potential to generate thousands of affordable housing units and help spur economic growth,” the statement claims. The act will impact the viability of building housing on Metro station property.

Taking effect in Jan. 2021, the law incentivizes new housing development by providing a property tax abatement for new high-rise developments that include at least 50 percent rental housing. In addition, the new developments would need to include “at least 15 percent affordable housing, with 25 percent of that figure being housing affordable to people making 50 percent or less of the median income in the County.”

“Montgomery County has a lot riding on getting high-rise development going at our Metro stations,” said Councilmember Hans Riemer.

“Our housing market is not producing enough new housing and that is creating affordability problems for young and working families and putting rent pressure on market affordable housing. With the potential for more than 8,000 units of housing, these measures should help us take a big stride towards our regional housing goals.”

County Executive Marc Elrich vetoed the More Housing at Metrorail Stations Act, but the council voted 7-2 on Tuesday to override the veto. Councilmember Will Jawando and Council Vice President Tom Hucker voted against the veto override.

“I’m pleased that the Council today stood strong in our continued commitment to meet ambitious housing and transit-oriented development goals so more people will have the chance to live in and contribute to our County,” Councilmember Andrew Friedson said.

“While some who oppose new people moving into our community remain satisfied with the status quo of empty lots and parking spaces on top of Metro stations, we made it clear that we won’t wait to address our housing and climate crisis or to invigorate our local economy.”

According to projections by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Urban Institute, Montgomery County is expected to grow by more than 60,000 additional households by 2040. Yet, the prices for homes are growing faster than incomes. The median household income of $108,188 was below the $125,621 required to afford a home priced at the midpoint, according to the Montgomery County Planning Department.

Two letters to the editor in regards to tax abatements to encourage high-rise housing at metro stations.

Montgomery County needs to pass this tax break to meet its housing goals (Washington Post)

Regarding the Oct. 20 Metro article “Elrich veto blocks tax break for high-rises”: Montgomery County’s More Housing at Metrorail Stations Act will provide much-needed economic incentives to build high-rise housing at key Metro stations in the county. While projects at Metro stations along the Red Line have struggled to move forward because of the high cost of high-rise construction, this legislation is likely to result, over time, in thousands of new units at the White Flint and Grosvenor-Strathmore stations alone.

Planning estimates put the need for 41,000 new housing units — both market-rate and affordable — in Montgomery County by 2030. This law could help meet 25 percent of that requirement. 

By providing a financial incentive to developers in the form of a 15-year tax abatement, which in turn will significantly improve the rate of return for high-rise development, it moves some projects from “not viable” to “viable” and others from “eventually viable” to “viable today.” 

As a local land-use lawyer (now retired) who practiced for more than 40 years, I firmly believe this legislation — and more of its kind — is needed if the county is to achieve its housing goals. This law would create “Metro Oriented Transit-Centered Communities,” promote good construction-related jobs and provide costly transit infrastructure, all in keeping with the county’s carefully crafted master plans.

Stephen Z. Kaufman, Brookeville

Opinion: There are good reasons to give incentives for Metro development (Bethesda Beat)

On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Council will vote on whether to override the county executive’s veto of Bill 29-20, the “More Housing at Metrorail Stations Act.”

The bill only applies to Metro-owned properties. (Metro isn’t selling these properties, just offering a ground lease). The development has to be at least eight stories and at least 50% residential rental. The residential rental needs to be 15% moderately priced dwelling units. Twenty-five percent of those moderately priced dwelling units need to be affordable to households at 50% or less of the area median income.

Many assume developers need no incentive to build high-rises on Metro property, but the market shows otherwise. When I asked WMATA if there were any development projects on its property in the last 10 years, I was told that the most recent ones were two residential buildings (Alaire and Terano), completed in 2002 and 2007, at Twinbrook, and Aurora Apartments in 2008 at White Flint.

Metro stations are vast expanses of parking lots, impervious surface, devoid of activity. Meanwhile, we have a huge housing demand in this county. If we don’t build it here, it will go to other counties. We’ll receive the traffic and greenhouse gas emissions, but not the income taxes.

Currently, the county collects no revenue on WMATA property. This bill extends this status for 15 years to a developer who builds on Metro property — thus, there is no net loss to the county.

In fact, development of the county’s Metro stations will generate fiscal benefits for both Montgomery County and WMATA. There will be less spending on lane miles of road and pipe miles of water and sewer; reduced cost to provide services to compact development (i.e., existing fire/police services, shorter response times); and increased fare revenue from transit users.

The bill provides one-time revenues (impact tax, transfer and recordation). Residents living in the housing will pay personal income taxes. WMATA forecasts that about 8,600 new housing units could be built — 1,300 of which would be for the county’s affordable housing programs. This bill moves us toward our environmental, climate change and housing goals.

Transit-oriented development in major activity corridors, with mixed income and affordable housing, takes cars off the road and promotes healthy lifestyles. Given the climate and economic situation we’ve witnessed in 2020, now is a great time to take bold actions to move this county forward.

Tina Slater, Silver Spring

With moratorium over, Strathmore Square project back for approval of more residences

From Bethesda Beat

After a residential building moratorium stunted a large development in North Bethesda, project leaders are trying again to expand their plan.

The moratorium has been lifted, though, so they will return to the Montgomery County Planning Board this week in hopes of moving forward with the full project, which aims to build more than 2,200 residences near the Grosvenor Strathmore Metrorail station.

In November 2018, the Planning Board gave preliminary approval to a project with 1.9 million square feet of total space, including an 11-story hotel, retail space and office buildings.

Developers on Thursday will seek approval from the Planning Board for 909 residences and remove the age restriction from the 400 previously approved residences.

If approved, all 2,218 residences originally proposed could be built.

Plans for the North Bethesda project call for a roughly 1.2-acre park to sit in the center of the development. It would be framed by seven buildings up to 300 feet tall.

The park is designed to “be the heart of the project,” and provide space for informal community gathering. The park will include amenities such as a dog park, pop-up markets, performances and community art, planning board documents say.

Read the rest of the story on Bethesda Beat.

So exciting! East Village is Moving Forward!

MAC Realty Advisors (MAC), on behalf of Foulger-Pratt and Promark Partners placed a $72.5 million long-term, fixed-rate construction-to-permanent loan from a national lender for the development of North Bethesda Gateway. This project is a new 335-unit luxury apartment community in the North Bethesda-White Flint submarket of Montgomery County, Maryland. The transaction closed in September 2020.

We are thrilled to be moving forward with the North Bethesda East Village project,” stated Cameron Pratt, Foulger-Pratt’s CEO.  “This new development will serve the modern working professional by offering a dynamic amenity package and attractive design, resulting in a superb living experience.” 
 
“This was a fortuitous opportunity to place a long-term financing on a high-quality apartment community in a sought-after submarket with a noted development team,” added Andrew McAllister, Executive Director at MAC.  “We generated substantial interest from a half dozen lending sources, all willing to provide 20 plus year financing.”

Council enacts the More Housing at Metrorail Stations Act (including White Flint and Grosvenor)

This week the Council, by a vote of 7-2, enacted Bill 29-20, called the “More Housing at Metrorail Stations Act,” a major new housing initiative for which Friends of White Flint advocated.

Councilmember Hans Riemer, chair of the Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee, and Councilmember Andrew Friedson, member of the PHED Committee, were the lead sponsors of Bill 29-20. Councilmembers Evan Glass, Nancy Navarro, Council President Sidney Katz, Councilmember Gabe Albornoz, Council Vice President Tom Hucker and Councilmember Craig Rice were cosponsors .Councilmember Will Jawando and Council Vice President Tom Hucker voted against the bill. 

Presently, there are no high-rise developments underway on any Metro station property in Montgomery County, nor have there been for many years. The legislation will respond to this problem by providing a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for a period of 15 years for new high-rise development that includes at least 50 percent rental housing. The PILOT would exempt 100 percent of the property tax that would otherwise be due for a project constructed on property leased from WMATA at a Metro Station in the County. WMATA does not pay property taxes to Montgomery County. The legislation allows a new development on a Metro station property to retain that property tax exemption for 15 years. The developers would continue to pay impact taxes and to pay into the special White Flint Taxing District.

According to Metro, station properties in the County have the capacity to deliver at least 8,600 units of housing, which would provide a significant contribution to the County’s long-term housing shortage. The high-rise buildings also would include between 1,200 to 1,300 Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDU). 

“This effort is about turning housing targets into actual housing units, making ridership goals actual transit riders, and transforming outdated parking lots into vibrant communities for actual people,” said Councilmember Andrew Friedson. “It’s about building modern, sustainable, inclusive communities in true smart growth fashion. Few things would be more impactful to meeting our affordable housing, environmental and economic development goals than maximizing transit-oriented development at Metro stations.”

Montgomery County is not producing nearly enough housing to keep up with demand. Since 2010, the County’s population has grown by approximately 8,000 people per year, but the County has only added about 2,700 new housing units per year. 

Moratorium Damages County’s Competitiveness and Affordability, Fails to Fix School Capacity Shortfalls.

Below you’ll find some highlights from a blogpost from Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson. I encourage you to read the entire post, which includes lots of informative charts and tables.

1. New development is not driving school overcrowding.

With the possible exception of Clarksburg, the surge in school enrollment faced by MCPS in recent years is attributable to turnover in housing built decades ago.

2. Moratoria have failed to solve the overcrowding problem and cut off a source of funds to build schools.

Some argue that even though turnover is largely responsible for overcrowded schools, the moratorium serves a useful purpose in generating political pressure to solve school capacity shortfalls, and that the threat of a moratorium will force elected officials to focus on the issue.

The short answer is we tried it and it didn’t work. The Walter Johnson, Blair, Northwood, and Einstein clusters all went into moratorium in July 2019 despite real estate developers warning that housing development projects in these areas would be delayed or killed. The deadline came and went, the projects were put on ice, and no funding for capacity expansions was accelerated from any source.

A moratorium also makes it more difficult for MCPS to deal with their capacity issues because impact taxes help fund the cost of capacity projects. The Planning Board has proposed adding additional payments in overutilized clusters that would require higher payments (utilization premium payments) in more crowded school clusters, but the idea is the same: new development pays more than its “share” and stopping development cuts off a needed supply of funds for the school system’s other needs.

The fact that moratoria are allowed to take effect despite their impact on development reveals the flaw in an implicit premise of the moratorium policy — namely that real estate developers will find a way to get schools built rather than see their business grind to a halt. The truth is that developers often operate in multiple jurisdictions, and they raise money to finance their projects from investors who are choosing among opportunities in every part of the country and even the world. Developers don’t like seeing their projects held up after they have spent time trying to get them lined up, but ultimately most of them don’t need to be here because they can acquire land to develop somewhere else. Montgomery County taxpayers have more to lose by stopping new housing construction than real estate developers, school board members, or any other group.

3. We are not producing enough housing – and moratoria make the housing supply problem worse.

Our school impact fees, and moratorium policy are damaging our ability to provide the housing our residents and economy need.

The reasons for our lagging housing production are many — including high costs of materials, shortages of skilled labor, and constraints on the availability of land suitable for development — but impact fees for schools are certainly a contributor.

A comparison of Montgomery County’s rules to the approach taken by our peers and competitors in the region is telling. We have the highest school impact payments in the greater Washington region except for Loudoun County, which is in a stage of its evolution where greenfield development is the norm.

Pike & Rose Showcases Federal Realty’s Sustainability Credentials

Here are some highlights from yesterday’s long article full of accolades and insights on Pike & Rose in Reit Magazine:

The completion this summer of 909 Rose, Federal Realty Investment Trust’(NYSE: FRT) latest addition to its transit-oriented Pike & Rose mixed-use development, highlights the REIT’s long-term sustainability track record and its commitment to creating communities that are aligned with the evolving needs of tenants and residents.

Situated in North Bethesda, Maryland, six miles north of Washington, D.C. and two blocks from a Red Line metro station, Pike & Rose achieved LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) v2009 Stage 3 Gold certification in late 2018—the first REIT-owned and developed project to receive the designation. The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED ND was created to inspire and help create better, more sustainable, well-connected neighborhoods.

Federal Realty, which has long called Montgomery County, Maryland home, became the class-A office building’s first occupants, as it sought to unite its corporate teams under one roof. The move to 909 Rose places Federal Realty at the center of Pike & Rose’s thriving sustainability-focused community, a decade in the making.

Jay Brinson, vice president of development at Federal Realty, says 909 Rose is well suited to meet the new demands for offices in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, “with progressive healthy building systems and a convenient location for firms looking to exit more dense urban environments or open satellite office locations to capitalize on the expected shift occurring in millennial housing trends.”

Completing Pike & Rose with commercial office buildings solidifies its place as a 24/7 community, adds Mickey Papillon, vice president and regional general manager at Federal Realty. He expects 909 Rose to catalyze construction of hundreds of thousands of additional square footage of office space at Pike & Rose during the next decade, as demand increases. “From first thing in the morning when people grab coffee to their last drink of the night, our customers are using the neighborhood as their campus with an amenity base never before seen in the community,” Papillon says. “There is an incredible amount of pride and ownership for our team to move to a 24-acre project that their company created, designed, and developed over the past decade,” says Papillon.


Federal Realty aimed for a smooth transition between the popular Mid-Pike Plaza and the new Pike & Rose, without cutting off the local income stream before a full-fledged replacement was ready.

“Federal implemented a detailed process by first closing half the center, walling it off and building the first phase of Pike & Rose, and once complete, closing, demolishing, and rebuilding the other half,” explains James Milam, Federal Realty’s senior vice president of regional finance & portfolio manager.

The REIT completed its master plan in 2012 and opened its first phase in 2014. Pike & Rose now comprises 379,000 square feet of retail, 864 apartments and condominium units, a 177-key hotel, and nearly 300,000 square feet of class-A office buildings.

“Federal Realty is an incredibly important private partner in the county’s effort at building mixed-use, transit-oriented communities in order to meet our economic development, climate, and quality of life goals,” Friedson says. “The reality is that the public sector alone cannot create a Pike & Rose,” he adds.


The Pike & Rose neighborhood features advanced stormwater management that starts at the top, with green roofs on the majority of its buildings, complemented with silva cells underneath the sidewalks to handle runoff. The solar panels on top of the garage generate most of the power for the structure, and there is a massive electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

“The LEED Neighborhood Development certification is rarely seen at other REIT investment projects, and there are only a few dozen in the world,” Papillon says, in reference to garnering the sustainable design distinction.

Specific to Pike & Rose are solar installations, native and sustainable landscaping, bike sharing, electric vehicle stations, and access to multi-modal transportation. Another unique feature—one of the largest rooftop farms in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Farm at Pike & Rose premiered in 2018 and provides 17,000 square-feet of green space and garden area adjacent to one of Pike & Rose’s residential buildings. The Farm cultivates a variety of crops to sell to residents and the community.

“All of these elements reflect what our community and our customers are looking for and help not only from an environmental standpoint but demonstrate that we care about the community where we live and work every day,” Papillon says.

Pike & Rose’s focus on sustainability has also inspired additional efforts in the surrounding community. “There’s no question it has helped our ambitious sustainability goals by allowing more people to live and work near major transit,” Friedson observes. “It’s also led us to invest in ‘complete streets’ —bicycle lanes and sidewalks that are wide, safe and attractive, and roads where the priority is safety over vehicle throughput,” he adds.


The Pike & Rose neighborhood features advanced stormwater management that starts at the top, with green roofs on the majority of its buildings, complemented with silva cells underneath the sidewalks to handle runoff. The solar panels on top of the garage generate most of the power for the structure, and there is a massive electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

“The LEED Neighborhood Development certification is rarely seen at other REIT investment projects, and there are only a few dozen in the world,” Papillon says, in reference to garnering the sustainable design distinction.

Specific to Pike & Rose are solar installations, native and sustainable landscaping, bike sharing, electric vehicle stations, and access to multi-modal transportation. Another unique feature—one of the largest rooftop farms in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Farm at Pike & Rose premiered in 2018 and provides 17,000 square-feet of green space and garden area adjacent to one of Pike & Rose’s residential buildings. The Farm cultivates a variety of crops to sell to residents and the community.

“All of these elements reflect what our community and our customers are looking for and help not only from an environmental standpoint but demonstrate that we care about the community where we live and work every day,” Papillon says.

Pike & Rose’s focus on sustainability has also inspired additional efforts in the surrounding community. “There’s no question it has helped our ambitious sustainability goals by allowing more people to live and work near major transit,” Friedson observes. “It’s also led us to invest in ‘complete streets’ —bicycle lanes and sidewalks that are wide, safe and attractive, and roads where the priority is safety over vehicle throughput,” he adds.

Read the rest of the wonderful article here.

Willco Hires New CEO As It Plans New White Flint Development

Bisnow reported that Willco has hired longtime D.C.-area real estate, Tom Regnell as its new CEO. Tom Regnell spent the last six years as president and CEO of the Chevy Chase Land Co. executive,

Friends of White Flint was thrilled to read about Willco’s focus on the Pike District area:

Willco owns two sites near the White Flint Metro station in North Bethesda totaling 36 acres where it is planning over 4M SF of development. Montgomery County Planning Department

The first site, a 16-acre property planned for 1.8M SF of townhouses, low-rise and high-rise multifamily, received preliminary plan approval from Montgomery County in July. The project sits on the north side of Montrose Parkway at the intersection of Towne Road, catty-corner from the Pike & Rose development. 

The developer is preparing to submit plans for the 20-acre site on the south side of Montrose Parkway, directly to the west of Pike & Rose. That property features existing government-leased office buildings, but Regnell said it has future development potential for 2.5M SF of office, retail and multifamily.

An aerial sketch of Willco’s planned development at the intersection of Montrose Parkway and Towne Road in North Bethesda from the Planning Department.

Montgomery County, WMATA Working On Deal For Life Sciences Hub At White Flint Metro

From Bisnow by Jon Banister:

Montgomery County is looking to take advantage of its booming life sciences market with a new development around one of its underdeveloped Metro stations.  The county is working on a joint development agreement with WMATA that would allow it to build a life sciences hub next to the White Flint Metro station, County Executive Marc Elrich said Tuesday on Bisnow’s Future of Montgomery County webinar.

Elrich said the parties are currently negotiating a memorandum of understanding and he expects to make a formal announcement with more details once a deal is finalized. He said he has discussed the project with the National Institutes of Health, which is headquartered nearby, and is “excited” about the plans. He also said he is looking to bring a university presence to the development.   “We need a center in Montgomery County that is identifiable. It needs to be on top of a Metro station, it needs to be bigger than a building,” Elrich said. “It’s got to be a deliberate effort to stimulate an area so this is a place people come and look at.”

He said establishing a life sciences hub will help draw new businesses to the county. Developers and local officials have said Montgomery County is falling behind Northern Virginia and the District in attracting businesses.  “It’s the reason we have this partnership with WMATA and are going to do a joint development agreement: So we can be sure we can put on the ground the things that will finally give people a reason to say ‘I want to come to Montgomery County,'” Elrich said. 

Photo by Bisnow. Clockwise from top left: American Gene Technologies’ Jeff Galvin, Cushman & Wakefield’s Revathi Greenwood, Stonebridge’s Doug Firstenberg, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and Selzer Gurvitch Rabin Wertheimer & Polott’s Bob Dalrymple.

The area around the White Flint Metro station in North Bethesda features a Metro parking garage, a WMATA office, a surface parking lot for the agency’s buses and a large, undeveloped lot. Also near the station is the site of the former White Flint Mall, which has long been eyed for development.  The owners of the White Flint mall site, Lerner Enterprises and Tower Cos., engaged in a lengthy legal dispute with Lord & Taylor, which was the only store still open on the property. Earlier this month, Lord & Taylor announced it would close the White Flint store after the company filed for bankruptcy. 

Also near the White Flint Metro station is the massive Pike & Rose mixed-use development from Federal Realty, a 5.9-acre site planned for 1,000 units from Grand Park Development and the Arrowwood multifamily project from LCOR.

Elrich said he sees the White Flint area as a major growth opportunity for the county. “I do think White Flint is key,” Elrich said. “It is a huge area around the Metro that is grossly underdeveloped, you’ve got acres and acres at the Lerner property, you’ve got low-rise on the east side of the [Rockville] Pike that could easily be replaced.” 

Elrich also said he is looking at a potential co-development deal at the Twinbrook Metro station, which is one stop north of the White Flint station. 

American Gene Technologies founder and CEO Jeff Galvin, whose biotech firm is based at 9713 Key West Ave. in Rockville, said he is interested in potentially relocating to the White Flint development.  “When Marc told me about his vision for the Twinbrook-White Flint area, I said, ‘I hope we grow fast enough to be your anchor tenant. Go ahead and plan that thing and I will take a half-million square feet,'” Galvin said. 

Galvin said he could see the White Flint area attracting other biotech companies to relocate from life sciences hubs in California and the Boston area.  “Build a great environment and they’ll come,” Galvin said. “If you have a great environment, and all these high-paying jobs are coming to the White Flint area, guess what else will come: all the restaurants.”

Cushman & Wakefield Global Head of Data and Insights Revathi Greenwood said she expects the coronavirus pandemic will create growth in Montgomery County’s life sciences market as companies in the area work to develop a vaccine.  “The life sciences sector was historically strong, it has become even stronger now with a focus on COVID-19,” Greenwood said. “The suburban-urban revival narrative also plays into that.”