‘Advancing the Pike District’ advances to the Planning Board

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). 

Public hearing on COVID-19 Local Order suspending indoor dining


On Tuesday, December 15, at 1 pm, the Montgomery County Council will introduce, hold a public hearing, and vote on a resolution and Board of Health Regulation that would approve Executive Order 139-20 on the COVID-19 Local Order amending and restating the order dated November 10. If approved by the council, Executive Order 139-20 would go into effect that day, December 15, 2020, at 5 pm. See the press release.
The major changes from the last executive order include the following:

  • suspends indoor dining at restaurants;
  • restricts outdoor dining hours to 6 am through 10 pm, to comply with the Governor Hogan’s latest executive order;
  • changes maximum capacity to one person per 200 square feet of retail space, not to exceed 150 persons, and specifically includes large retailers and grocery stores; and
  • removes automatic approval to exceed gathering limits to accommodate parents, guardians and immediate family at sports events. Sports would follow social gathering size limitations.

Due to the COVID-19 state of emergency, the public may not attend the public hearing but is welcome to participate in other ways: by calling 240-777-7900 with your opinion; testifying by phone (registration is required); providing audio, video and written testimony online; filing comments or suggestions online; mailing written comments to County Council, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850; or by sending an email to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov.
The hearing will be televised on Cable Montgomery and live-streamed on the County Council’s website, Facebook Live and YouTube pages. See the press release for details.

Friends of White Flint alum Jay Corbalis gets some press

Meet Jay Corbalis, JBG Smith’s man with a transportation plan – Washington Business Journal

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.

Read his interview at the Washington Business Journal.

The December 2, 2020 Pre-Submission Community Meeting for Phase I Site Plan for NORTHPARK AT MONTROSE

Northpark at Montrose (formerly known as the Wilgus Tract project) shared its plan during an online presentation last week. We’re excited to show you their slides (most of them, at least) because it’s going to be a wonderful addition to the White Flint/Pike District area!

To refresh your memory, this is a 16 acre property between Montrose Road and Montrose Parkway catty-corner from Pike & Rose. As of right now, they are planning to build both townhouses and multi-family housing as well as a park and tree buffers.

The 15-Minute City—No Cars Required—Is Urban Planning’s New Utopia

From Bloomberg News

This article explores the concept of the 15-minute city, which pretty much means most everything you need in life — friends, work, stores, recreation, restaurants, etc. — is just 15 minutes away, preferably by walking, biking, or public transit. It’s quite an interesting article. I encourage you to give it a quick peruse, but if you’re short of time, here are a few highlights.

From Paris to Portland, cities are attempting to give residents
everything they need within a few minutes of their front doors.

Taken together, the new trees and cycleways, community
facilities and social housing, homes and workplaces all reflect a
potentially transformative vision for urban planners: the 15-minute
city. “The 15-minute city represents the possibility of a
decentralized city,” says Carlos Moreno, a scientific director and
professor specializing in complex systems and innovation at

At its heart is the concept of mixing urban social functions to create a vibrant vicinity”—replicated, like fractals, across an entire urban expanse.

As workplaces, stores, and homes are brought into closer proximity, street space previously dedicated to cars is freed up, eliminating pollution and making way for gardens, bike lanes, and sports and leisure facilities. All of this allows residents to bring their daily activities out of their homes (which in Paris tend to be small) and into welcoming, safe streets and squares.

Adie Tomer, a fellow at Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of the report, says the 15-minute concept falls flat in America because “people in the U.S. already live in a 15-minute city, it’s just that they’re covering vast distances in a car.” Planners concerned with urban livability and rising carbon emissions might do well to focus on distance rather than time, he says. He suggests that the “3-mile city” might resonate better.

A Covid-19 Update

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.

Stay safe out there!

Major Metro Budget Problems

Just in case you’re off the news until the world is a little less chaotic and news, less grim, I want to share with you Metro’s calamitous budget difficulties.

The combined ridership on Metrorail and Metrobus in September 2020 is down nearly 80% from pre-pandemic levels. The impact on Metro’s budget is significant. Safety precautions put in place to protect the health of employees and customers have added new expenses, while revenue from fare collection has dried up. No Metrobus fares have been collected since March 2020, and Metrorail fares, which typically account for two-thirds of Metro’s total revenue, are extremely low.

The service provided today is only possible thanks to emergency federal funding in the CARES Act, but that money will soon run out. Without additional federal help and facing a nearly $500 million deficit, Metro is proposing severe service cuts, including:

  • 19 stations would close — including Grosvenor-Strathmore
  • Metro would be closed on weekends
  • trains would come every 30 minutes on the weekdays except in busier parts of the District when they would come every 15 minutes
  • bus route service would be slashed by more than half 
  • Metro will close two hours earlier, at 9 p.m

Stay tuned to see what we can do to save this vital transit because cuts this deep could irrevocably harm our area.

WMATA Discussed White Flint Metro Station Development at County Council

Yesterday at the County Council Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee meeting, Metro Real Estate and Station Planning Director Nina Albert presented three concepts for the White Flint station property: urban neighborhood, corporate campus, and entertainment/innovation district. White Flint metro station development is considered to be a #1 priority for WMATA.

Nina Albert said the agency wants to be prepared to move quickly if another “Amazon-style” opportunity comes to Montgomery County. In 2018, White Flint was considered for a second Amazon headquarters site, but the company decided to divide the new location between Arlington, Virginia and New York City.

Albert also noted that the county executive’s office wants White Flint to be a life sciences campus; Maryland is the fourth most-active life sciences area in the country. She said the county will take the lead in establishing the vision for the site and Metro will work on the development side.

Metro property development discussion follows up on the bill passed in October that exempts private developers from property taxes for 15 years if they build high-rise buildings on Metro property. (Friends of White Flint supported this bill.)