Category Development Projects

Western Workaround Update

From MCDOT, the August 9, 2020 update:

As of July 8, 2020, Executive Boulevard between Old Georgetown Road and Grand Park Avenue at Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center is permanently closed; look for the “DETOUR” signs that are rerouting traffic. 

Corman Kokosing Construction Company presently uses the closed section of Executive Boulevard. as a material and equipment staging area.  No access to Old Georgetown Road exists from north/westbound Executive Boulevard after Marinelli Road/Marriott Hotel & Conference Center.  A right turn on Banneker Avenue from northbound Grand Park Avenue only leads to the Marriott Hotel back parking and loading areas.  Access to Old Georgetown Road will resume once the Contractor completes the new section of Grand Park Avenue from Banneker Avenue to Old Georgetown Road—tentatively scheduled for completion by late December 2020.  Look for updates regarding progress on Grand Park Avenue. 

Corman Kokosing under the Construction Management at Risk (CMAR) contract proceeds with other work on Executive Boulevard in order to facilitate both new storm drain system construction, telecommunication & signalization infrastructure installation, and work on the extension of Banneker Avenue.  Banneker Avenue will cut across the Gables parking lot and eventually tie in to Old Georgetown Road just north of the MNCPPC Aquatic Center rear service entrance.  Future updates will provide progress on Banneker Avenue construction as the Contractor is only in the early stages of demolition and construction. 

The Berg Corporation, Corman Kokosing’s demolition contractor, is winding down the demolition of the old VOB Nissan Dealership property.  The final stages of demolition should be completed by late August 2020.  Large tractor‐trailer vehicles and dump trucks hauling away debris and excavated earthen material can only enter and exit the property via Grand Park Avenue off of the Executive Boulevard dead end.  Motorists and pedestrians in the area of Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, as well as the M & T Bank and Aquatic Center & Park at Marinelli Road, should pay special attention to the increased presence of large vehicles.  In addition, Corman has closed the northbound right lane of Old Georgetown Road in front of the VOB property.  Concrete “Jersey barriers” closing the lane will remain there until Corman completes the Grand Park Avenue extension.

Over the next month, Verizon crews will continue with their cable/wire splicing and other telecom work along Towne Road.  Verizon linemen and technicians in multiple vehicles will continue to install overhead cable and work in manholes in that project area.  Verizon should complete the overhead work on Towne Road by early September, weather permitting.  In addition, look for Verizon crews working in other parts of the White Flint West project area including on Banneker Avenue, Executive Boulevard and Old Georgetown Road.  Keep an eye out for their own lane closures and flagging operations as they are separate from Corman Kokosing and affiliated sub‐contractors’ construction operations.

Anchor Construction, a Corman‐Kokosing subcontractor, continues with their PEPCO related work on Towne Road between Montrose Road and the cul‐de‐sac.  By the end of August, Anchor will complete their work in this area.  The sub‐contractor will wrap up placing six-inch fiberglass conduits in various configurations.  Still, at any time, Anchor crews could be roadway saw cutting, excavating, placing shoring, installing conduit, backfilling, and/or restoring roadway pavements.  Additionally, the Anchor Crew on Towne Road will move over to the northbound lanes of Old Georgetown Road between Nicholson/Tilden Lanes and Grand Park Avenue; the Crew will begin other PEPCO related work there.  Please be patient with their lane closures and subsequent delays on Towne Road, Montrose Road, Montrose Parkway, and eventually Old Georgetown Road. 

Corman Kokosing’s own crews continue with Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) sewer and water line upgrades known as Contract “G” and Contract “E.”  As a reminder, all nighttime construction operations have been suspended.  The contractor will provide seven days’ notice before they resume nighttime operations; look for any future updates regarding night work.  The WSSC construction activities instead are proceeding during the daytime hours of 6:00 am to 2:00 pm in the northbound and southbound lanes of Old Georgetown Road north and south of Executive Boulevard, as well as the grassy area in front of the PALLAS Apartment Building. 

See what Woodward High School is going to look like

Charles W. Woodward High School will be a holding facility for Northwood High School while Northwood HS undergoes a renovation/replacement at their current site from September 2023 to August 2025.

Woodward High School will then be reopened September 2025. MCPS Division of Capital Planning will start the process of a boundary study to determine who will go to Woodward High School 18 months prior to the opening of school.

The size of the school will be 27.31 acres (for reference, Bethesda-Chevy Chase HS is 16.36 acres, Walter Johnson HS is 30.86 acres). However, significant topographic change within the site limits the use of flat area for site amenities.

The new Woodward HS building will be designed for a capacity of 2,700 students.

The proposed building is terraced into the existing grades to minimize excavation and has a 3-story portion along Old Georgetown Road and a 4-story portion near athletic fields

Construction is expected to start in January 2021, if all approvals are granted by the Montgomery County Planning Board (there’s work to do there).

Didn’t get to watch the demolition of VOB in person? Here are some videos to fill the gap.

Thanks to the video talents of John Z. Wetmore, Producer of “Perils For Pedestrians” Television, you can watch the demolition of VOB Nissan, which will facilitate the construction of the Western Workaround. Enjoy every snatch of the bulldozer, each wall ripping from its foundation.

VOB (Part 1 – Service) Car Dealer Demolition
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhmXqIPBeUY

VOB (Part 2 – Parts) Car Dealer Demolition
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H42K0dmVsPU

VOB (Part 3 – Sales) Car Dealer Demolition
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DrpoSEMpjA

The Politics of Redevelopment Planning in Tysons and Outcomes 10 Years Later

From the Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Policymakers in Fairfax County, Virginia, passed an ambitious redevelopment plan for the Tysons area in 2010, in anticipation of a new Metrorail line, hoping to transform a suburban, car-oriented area into a walkable, transit-oriented downtown. Notably, the plan reformed zoning rules to allow for much more development, especially the construction of high-rise multifamily housing, in this wealthy suburban community on the outskirts of Washing­ton, DC.

In “The Politics of Redevelopment Planning in Tysons and Outcomes 10 Years Later,” Emily Hamilton finds that the Tysons area has been more successful in its progress toward the goal of housing construction than the goal of walkability.

Good Progress Toward the Residential Construction Objectives in Tysons

The shortage of housing in the places where people want to live is a challenge across the country. The shortage is greatest in high-income suburban jurisdictions such as Fairfax County. Many current reform efforts to allow more housing construction focus on single-family zoning. In 2019, for example, Oregon rolled back existing single-family zoning for much of the state, and in 2020 legislators in five other US states introduced similar bills.

Fairfax County policymakers took a different approach to the problem. The Tysons redevelopment plan permits construction of multifamily buildings on land that had been previously zoned for commercial use, leaving single-family neighborhoods untouched. The 2010 redevelopment plan for Tysons is currently on track to meet its target of adding 80,000 more residents by the middle of this century. Thousands of new arrivals have already been able to move into this part of a wealthy suburban county.

Less Progress Toward Walkability Goals

The redevelopment plan sought to turn Tysons into a walkable downtown with a mix of office, residential, and retail spaces near the Metro stations. The Tysons plan framed the permitting of more multifamily housing as a means to achieve greater walkability, attract a residential population that would support local businesses, and cre­ate livelier sidewalks and public spaces. So far, however, car-oriented infrastructure remains an important obstacle to walkability.

Rather than going underground, the new Metro line was built above ground in the center of major, pedestrian-hostile arterials. The stations are elevated, too, and have to be reached by long pedestrian bridges. The station place­ment has resulted in the development of little more than “islands” of walkability in Tysons.

Key Takeaway

The redevelopment plan for Tysons was framed as a bold effort to transform a suburban, highway-oriented place dominated by office parks and shopping malls into walkable neighborhoods. Little progress has been made in this regard to date. However, the plan has been more successful in its efforts to promote new housing. Tysons thus serves as one example of overcoming regulatory barriers to new housing that have been politically difficult to over­come in other high-demand locations that are demographically similar to Fairfax County.

Our testimony on Bill 29-20 that creates incentives to build housing at metro stations

July 20, 2020

Dear Councilmembers:

Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit organization composed of residents, property owners, and businesses, writes today to urge you to pass Bill 29-20. This legislation will encourage development at both the White Flint and Grosvenor-Strathmore metro station, something we enthusiastically support. This legislation should increase the available stock of housing and spur economic development, both of which are essential to ensure Montgomery County and the Pike District prosper.

We support exempting 100% of the real property tax that would otherwise be levied for a period of 15 years beginning in the year a use and occupancy permit is issued for the qualifying development with the important caveat that the property owner must still pay into the special White Flint taxing district. The special taxing district funds essential infrastructure and is integral to fulfilling the promise of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan.

With the hope that Bill 29-20 will create incentives to redevelop property at the White Flint and Grosvenor-Strathmore metro station, Friends of White Flint advocates for the passage of this important legislation.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Friends of White Flint if you have any questions or would like additional information.

Thank you,

Amy Ginsburg. Executive Director

An update on development going before the Planning Board

Below you’ll find an important update from the White Flint Implementation Committee staff leader, Nkosi Yearwood.

Next Thursday, the Planning Board will review three White Flint related projects.

First, there is a Preliminary Plan Amendment for the Gables Residential development that extends the Adequate Public Facilities (APF) validity period by three years.

Second, a new Preliminary Plan for the Wilgus property (between Montrose Road and Montrose Parkway) will be reviewed. This development is within the White Flint 2 plan area, but a portion of it is included in the White Flint 1 plan area for staging and the tax district purposes.

From the Wilgus Staff Memo

Third, the Mandatory Referral for the future Woodward High School will also be reviewed by the Board. This new school will serve as another high school for the Walter Johnson  cluster.

You can see the agenda and get more information at: https://montgomeryplanningboard.org/agenda-item/july-23-2020/

You can sign up to testify here on any of these projects

Some recent photos

If you’ve not made it around the Pike District recently, here are some photos taken by FOWF member David Walters to bring you up-to-date.

Market Street Park by the Conference Center — a great place to hang out
The new pop-up park by the conference center called Market Street Park.
No more VOB Nissan as we make room for the western workaround.

The end of the moratorium!

Fabulous news! The Planning Board will receive the FY21 annual school test on Thursday, and the current moratorium for the Walter Johnson cluster will come to an end. Here is the staff memo. This means that pending North Bethesda developments, ranging from Twinbrook to Rock Spring, could move forward!

From the staff report:

The test also finds three additional clusters – Montgomery Blair, Albert Einstein, and Walter Johnson clusters – to be ‘open conditionally’ as shown in Table 2. The projected enrollment for the high schools at these clusters indicate that they will exceed the test’s utilization standard in the 2025-2026 school year as well, but the enrollment burden at these schools are expected to be relieved by approved capital projects at other high schools – Northwood HS and Woodward HS – through future student reassignments.

Federal Realty Lands First Tenant In Office Building At Pike & Rose

From Bisnow Washington, D.C.

One year after committing to move its own headquarters to its spec office building at Pike & Rose, Federal Realty has landed the project’s first tenant.  FRIT announced Thursday it signed a 16,245 SF lease with OneDigital at the 909 Rose office building in North Bethesda. The advisory firm will consolidate from two locations in Chevy Chase and Downtown Bethesda, and plans to move in the fall.  The developer broke ground on the 11-story, 212K SF office building with ground-floor retail in 2018 with no pre-leases.

JLL is managing the project’s leasing.  Federal Realty CEO Don Wood told Bisnow in June 2019 the REIT planned to move its own headquarters to a 40K SF space in the building. It expects to complete the project by the end of this month, and Federal Realty plans to move in August, a spokesperson said. 

As it looks to fill the remainder of the building, Federal Realty is highlighting a series of features that it hopes will appeal to health-conscious tenants as the coronavirus forces a rethinking of the office environment. The features include contactless entry in the garage and building, a touchless elevator system and a dedicated outdoor air ventilation system that it says will create 30% more fresh air than required by code. It also boasts that it has a higher parking ratio than Downtown Bethesda and D.C., with three spaces per 1K SF, as tenants may shy away from public transit.  “We believe 909 Rose is perfectly suited to meet the new demands for offices, with progressively 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,” Federal Realty Vice President of Development Jay Brinson said in a release.

The office building is part of the 24-acre Pike & Rose mixed-use development at the intersection of Rockville Pike and Montrose Parkway, near the White Flint Metro station. The project features 765 apartments, 99 condos, a 177-room hotel, 80K SF of office space and over 40 retailers.