Federal Realty requests faster creation of Pike District amenities

From Bethesda Beat

Earlier this month, Federal Realty’s chief executive officer sent County Executive Ike Leggett and the County Council a letter airing grievances related to development in the White Flint area near Pike & Rose in North Bethesda. CEO Donald Wood complained that road upgrade projects have fallen behind schedule, progress is sluggish on creating parks and civic spaces and the county isn’t adequately following through on the goals outlined in the White Flint Sector Plan passed in 2010. Moreover, the county hasn’t seemed receptive to Federal Realty Investment Trust’s push for financial incentives for a new office project, he wrote.

The four-page letter concluded with a list of requests—that the county condemn a piece of property necessary to complete the “Western Workaround” road project; furnish the company with financial incentives to construct a 210,000-square-foot office building at Pike & Rose; build a street grid in White Flint West; build a new Metro entrance; and build a civic green at the center of White Flint, among other items. Wood included suggested deadlines, written in bold, for several of the requests.

In response, the county’s chief administrative officer, Timothy Firestine, wrote that market forces, decisions of private property owners and strict state policies have all reined in the pace of White Flint’s transformation. These factors are largely out of the county’s hands, he said.

Amy Ginsburg, executive director of the advocacy group Friends of White Flint, said she understands Federal Realty’s frustration and desire to see parks and road improvements materialize. She also sympathizes with the constraints the county faces because of the roles played by the state and private landholders.

“Everyone wishes the county could wave a magic wand and poof! We’d have everything that’s in the plan tomorrow,” she said. “And it sadly doesn’t work that way.”

You can read the rest of the article at Bethesda Beat. (And we urge you to do so — this is an important and interesting issue for the White Flint/Pike District area.)

You ought to also read the actual letter Federal Realty sent to Montgomery County and Montgomery County’s official response.

 

Info from Montgomery County Government on the Western Workaround

Montgomery County has started working on the first of two phases of the White Flint West Workaround transportation project, an effort designed to create a pedestrian-friendly community where residents and visitors can walk to work, shops and transit. The first phase is scheduled to be completed by the end of calendar year 2017.

These new transportation improvements will help make it easier for people to get around in White Flint by transforming the existing super blocks into smaller, more “walkable” streets.

During this phase, the section of Executive Boulevard adjacent to the Montgomery County Conference Center will be realigned and a part of the new Market/Main Street will be constructed.

Additionally, the existing surface parking lot at the Conference Center will be converted into a new structured parking garage. Designed to house approximately 650 spaces, the garage will be six stories tall and accessible from both Executive Boulevard and Market Street. The garage will also contain a weather-protected walkway from the third floor of the garage directly into the facility’s ballroom level.

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During the scheduled 12-month construction period, Conference Center guests can park at a satellite parking lot located at 6120-6130 Executive Boulevard – an approximately five-minute ride from the Center. Guests will be transported on a scheduled basis via 35-passenger shuttles. Satellite parking will be marked with “Bethesda North Conference Center” signs; and guests will be driven to the main entrance of the facility at Executive Boulevard and Marinelli Road.

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The White Flint West Workaround project will lead to a more connected community with amenities, options and new ways to get around, in addition to convenient covered parking at the Conference Center. The County’s Department of Transportation is managing the road project, and the Maryland Stadium Authority is managing the conference center garage project. For more information, visit http://pikedistrict.org/future.

White Flint Implementation Committee February Meeting Next Week

The next White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee meeting will take place on Monday, February 10, 2014, 7 p.m., at Wall Local Park/ Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center. The White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee is an overview committee appointed by the Planning Board in 2010.  It’s comprised of property owners, resident groups and representatives from the county’s Executive Branch.

The agenda for this meeting includes development updates, as well as an update from the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee. Importantly, White Flint-related projects proposed for funding in the County Executive’s Capital Improvement Programs (CIP) budget will be discussed. These projects are Chapman Extended, White Flint Fire Station #3, White Flint Redevelopment Program, White Flint District East, White Flint District West, and White Flint West Workaround.  In addition, the Council Bill 33-13– Urban Road Code Standards and Pedestrian Safety Improvements which will be discussed.

Stay tuned for updates after the meeting on Monday.