A Third Place blog from the Planning Department offers three possible scenarios for the post-Covid world of office space. It appears the Pike District ought to be rooting for the hub and spoke office model.
Scenario 1: The regional center best withstands an overall drop in office demand while the decline of suburban office parks accelerates. Submarkets in Montgomery County that would benefit: None, but Bethesda is likely the least negatively affected.
Scenario 2: Firms adopt the ‘Hub & Spoke’ office model Submarkets in Montgomery County that would benefit: urban submarkets (Bethesda, Silver Spring and portions of North Bethesda) It is likely that firms pursuing this strategy will want some level of urban amenities for these satellite locations. Within Montgomery County, office submarkets that offer transit access and elements of the urban amenities enjoyed downtown but with closer proximity to suburban workers—such as Bethesda, Silver Spring and the Pike District—might see increased demand. More suburban submarkets like Germantown, Gaithersburg, or Rockville, which are dominated by office parks with fewer amenities, might continue to struggle.
Scenario 3: The revival of the suburban office park Submarkets in Montgomery County that would benefit: suburban markets (Germantown, Gaithersburg or northern Rockville).
On Thursday afternoon, December 17, the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Advancing the Pike District project team will provide an overview of key findings and potential solutions from the Development Trends, Infrastructure Update, and Short-Term Solutions Report. Advancing the Pike District is a Planning Department initiative to accelerate the transformation of North Bethesda around the White Flint Metro Station area. You can click this link to read the staff report .
Yes, the report is a long document, and you may have seen slides from the Planning Department’s presentation at our recent community meeting. But it’s a report worth taking a look at. It is chock full of facts and figures as well as plans, placemaking, pedestrian safety and proposals,
This item is currently #9 on the board’s agenda for December 17. The Planning Board’s facility is closed to the public during the pandemic, but the public can watch the meetings live online and on-demand, or hear them in real time by calling 877-668-9160 (password: 24252020).
Jay Corbalis, who used to work at Federal Realty and was instrumental in the founding and work of Friends of White Flint, was interviewed in the Washington Business Journal. The intro is below; click the link to read his interview.
When Jay Corbalis was interviewing for a job at JBG Smith Properties in March 2018, he said there was no mention of what would soon become the developer’s most high-profile partner: Amazon.com Inc.
Sure, there were plenty of rumors that the tech giant would pick Arlington for its massive second headquarters. But Corbalis said he accepted a job as JBG Smith’s new point man for transportation infrastructure in the Crystal City area without knowing for sure whether Jeff Bezos’s megafirm would be coming to town.
It turns out that Corbalis, the Bethesda developer’s vice president of public affairs, made the right choice. Amazon picked the newly dubbed “National Landing” area for HQ2, and brought with it an infusion of state funding into the very projects Corbalis was working on.
While things like a second Crystal City Metro station entrance, the transformation of Route 1 and a pedestrian connection to Reagan National Airport were all part of Arlington County’s long-range plans before Amazon was in the picture, the company’s arrival added a huge amount of urgency. And that thrust Corbalis into one of the most important roles in the entire company: making sure that Amazon’s new neighborhood meets the tech giant’s high expectations.
It’s been awhile since I’ve done a COVID-19 update, but with the recent surge, it seemed appropriate. Here are the latest White Flint/Pike District area numbers courtesy of Delegate Marc Korman (who posts them daily on his social media.)
The Montgomery County testing portal is a useful list of places where you can get tested. (I was tested a couple of weeks ago at one of the county sites and got results back (thankfully negative!) in just 3 days.)
Don’t forget about Montgomery County’s new directive: a face covering must be worn when you are likely to come into contact with another person, such as being within six feet of another person for more than a fleeting time and must be worn unless a person is actively engaged in eating or drinking. And no gatherings of more than ten people.
This project will renovate the trail in Wall Local Park, located at the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Nicholson Lane in North Bethesda. The intent of the project is to make the trail ADA accessible from the parking lot to the Nicholson Lane entrance and to enhance the trail with interpretive and wayfinding signage, and with decorative pavers from donors to the Josiah Henson Museum & Park. There are two retaining walls at the Nicholson Lane entrance that need repair. The project will renovate this access point with new retaining walls, special paving, and a concrete walkway to create a more visible pedestrian entrance to the park and the parking lot.
The Montgomery County Council is continuing their review of the update to the County Growth Policy. Major changes include policy name change (from the Subdivision Staging Policy to the County Growth Policy), creation of school impact areas, limitations on the use of moratoria, requirements for premium payments in area with overcrowded schools, and incorporation of Vision Zero concepts in transportation adequacy review. Please review the Recommendations At-A-Glance for a brief overview of the schools recommendations.
Montgomery County Council Schedule
Monday, October 5 PHED Committee: County Growth Policy Schools Element | 9:30 AM Friday, October 9 PHED Committee: County Growth Policy Transportation Element | 10:30 AMGO Committee: Impact Tax Bill | 1:30 PM Monday, October 12 GO Committee: School Impact Taxes and Recordation Tax Bill | 9:30 AM Tuesday, October 13 PHED Committee: County Growth Policy) | 3:00 PM Tuesday, October 20 Full Council: County Growth Policy | TBD Tuesday, October 27 Full Council: County Growth Policy | TBD Tuesday, November 10 Full Council action
You can watch the Council work sessions live (or watch recordings of past work sessions) from the Council website.
What is the Subdivision Staging Policy? The Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP) — one of the many ways that Montgomery Planning helps to preserve the excellent quality of life in Montgomery County — is based on having sufficient infrastructure to support growth. It includes criteria and guidance for the administration of Montgomery County’s Adequate Public Facility Ordinance (APFO), which matches the timing of private development with the availability of public infrastructure. Every four years, an effort to update the Subdivision Staging Policy originates with Montgomery Planning staff before working its way through the Planning Board and the County Council. The purpose is to ensure that the best available tools are used to test whether infrastructure like schools, transportation, water and sewer services can support future growth.
Subdivision Staging Policy and the Community Montgomery Planning prepares updates to the SSP every four years and this year’s update takes a special focus on schools in relation to growth and development in the county. Census information, demographic shifts, student generation rates, housing stock and projections, equity, along with master plans and development projects are some of the components that must be considered when looking at the policy. The transportation side of the SSP includes looking at transportation policy areas in the county, modes of travel, areawide development impacts and modeling data with a new focus on Vision Zero safety standards. Since the update to the SSP started in summer 2019, two citizen advisory groups have assisted with this work: the Schools Technical Advisory Team and Transportation Impact Study Technical Working Group. Community members have also been engaged through local presentations, a community workshop in October 2019 and a series of roundtable discussions throughout the county.
Coalition for Smarter Growth is holding a Montgomery Smart Growth Advocacy Training, on Thursday, September 17th at 7pm.
They’ll be demystifying the legislative and planning processes of the County Council and Planning Board, and answering any questions. Their goal is to help empower community members who may have felt intimidated by the county’s bureaucracy to advocate for housing, land use, and transit, including the General Plan that’s currently being written.
1. The county is growing slowly, but still adding a lot of people. During the 1950s and 1960s, Montgomery County grew really fast, doubling in population each decade. These days, it’s adding new people at a much lower rate—but with over one million residents, that’s still a lot of people. County planners anticipate 208,000 new residents in the next 20 years.
2. The county is getting more diverse, but not evenly. The county became majority-minority for the first time in the 2010 Census, and planners found that many neighborhoods across the county are pretty mixed, with no majority ethnic or racial group. At the same time, the east-west divide is still very real: as East County and the Upcounty become more diverse, west side communities like Bethesda and Chevy Chase have simply remained white and affluent. One exception: close-in Silver Spring, which has become both more diverse and wealthier.
3. This isn’t just a place where people raise kids anymore. Today, households with kids make up just one-fourth of the county’s population, down from 60% in 1960. The county has more older residents whose kids have grown, and planners anticipate that we’ll have fewer and fewer working-age people in the future. Meanwhile, one-fifth of the county are Millennials, who either don’t have kids yet or aren’t planning to have them.
4, County planners found an average of 230 single-family home demolitions each year since 2013, over half of which are in Bethesda, where entire blocks have been transformed.
5. Incomes have been flat for 30 years, which means homeownership is now for the old. Over one-third of Montgomery County households are renters, and they’re not just living in apartments, but in townhomes or single-family houses that are being rented out. One consequence is that homeowners are getting older, as rising prices mean that people who bought their homes decades ago can’t afford to move, and younger residents can’t afford to buy their homes anyway. In 1990, people over 55 owned one-third of the county’s homes and people under 34 owned 18% of them. Today, adults over 55 own 54% of the county’s homes, while those under 34 own just 7% of them.
6. Most people who live here also work here. Nearly 600,000 people work here, and planners found that about 61% of them also live here. In fact, the percentage of people who leave the state to work in DC or Virginia has actually gone down a little. Just 15% of the county’s workers work for the federal government. More people work in the “eds and meds” fields, like education or health care, in the hospitality or food service fields, as well as what’s called “professional work,” like lawyers or consultants.
7. There’s a shift in where people work. Office vacancies in Montgomery County are the highest they’ve been in over a decade, in part to changing work habits like telecommuting, coworking, and smaller offices. Downtowns like Bethesda are attracting companies like Marriott from suburban office parks, which are now struggling.