Notes from the last Friends of White Flint Meeting

** The following are draft minutes of the meeting held on September 3, 2014 of the Board of Directors of Friends of White Flint.  These minutes will remain in draft form until approved at the next Board meeting.  In the meantime, please email suggested edits to Info@WhiteFlint.org **

 

Draft of Minutes of the September 3, 2014 Friends of White Flint Board of Director’s Meeting
2014 Board of Directors Meeting
September 3, 2014 at 6:30 pm
Georgetown Village Condominium Community Room

 

Board members include Howard Feldman, James Schaeffer, Chad Salganik, Amber Tedesco, Suzanne Hudson, Francine Waters, Bill Carey, Barnaby Zall, Todd Lewers, Brian Downie, and Kristi Smith.  Staff members include Lindsay Hoffman and Rebecca Hertz. Board Members not in attendance: David Freishtat, Eric Grosse, Evan Goldman, and Rob Eisinger.

The Friends of White Flint (FoWF) Board Meeting was called to order at 6:36 pm at the Georgetown Village Condominium Community Room by Lindsay Hoffman.

Ed Reich began the meeting by saying he and Georgetown Village Condominium are happy to host Friends of White Flint. It gives them the opportunity to show off their wonderful community.

Approval of Minutes from May 29, 2014 Board of Directors Meeting.
Lindsay called for the approval of minutes from the May 29th, Annual meeting. Suzanne Hudson motioned for the approval of the minutes and Barnaby Zall seconded the motion, all approved.

Updates from Friends of White Flint:
Friends of White Flint set new Board of Directors at the end of the annual meeting and over online correspondence. The new directors include two Property Owner/Developer representatives- Brian Downie from Saul Center and Rob Eisinger from ProMark; one Business representative- Bill Carey from Strathmore; and two Resident representatives- Amber Tedesco and Erin Grosse.

After the annual meeting, the Board of Directors voted for new officers and co-chairs. Resident representative co-chair is Chad Salganik. The Business representative co-chair is David Frieshtat. And the Property Owner/Developer representative co-chair is Evan Goldman. The officers are Barnaby Zall is the Treasurer and Amber Tedesco is the Secretary.

Treasurer’s Report
Barnaby Zall mentioned that FoWF receives no government funding. FoWF funding comes from membership dues and fundraising. As of August 30th, the bank balance was $26,700, which means it has been a good year for FoWF. Currently, the burn rate is $4,000 a month, which means FoWF will carry the same reserves as last year.

Membership update:
Over 30 individuals joined FoWF since the last Board of Director’s meeting. Willco Residential joined as a Property Owner/Developer. Willco has many properties among Executive Boulevard and Rockville Pike. In addition, two new Business members joined, Strathmore and Dr. Jay Samuels, DDS.

Becca attended Bike to Work Day in March for FoWF. We attended many community meetings with the Randolph Civic Association, Action Committee for Transit, and Bethesda Urban Partnership. Also, Grovesnor Park Condominium meeting with Goddard School soon.

Lindsay will host a walking tour in White Flint in November along with National Building Museum. If anyone has ideas, Lindsay is putting route together now, please let her know. The walking tour will take place on November 8th at 10:00 am-12:30 pm. Lindsay has done 4 tours around the White Flint sector so far.

In July, along with Communities for Transit, FoWF hosted a happy hour at Paladar Latin Kitchen about the rapid transit program coming to the county. We had a strong turn out.

FoWF added a new element to the website: a list of business members, property owner members, and developer members. There are links to the websites of each of the businesses/property owners/ developments/ condominium associations. The hope is to be as transparent as possible. There have been 11,850 unique visitors to the website since the last Board of Director’s meeting, as well as 33000 page views. The email list is now at 1053 people. Our emails’ have a high open rate as well, which is great news.

Also, the board recommended that a resident advisory board should be launched. The resident advisory group will be a sub group of friends that will help FoWF figure out more of the resident perspective. Laura Jaffe a new member of FoWF will lead this group. The group will begin by complying an email list. She will put the lists together and see what is the most efficient way to move forward. The feedback will come to the board through Laura and will act on it as a larger group as it is warranted.

The White Flint post office is not open yet. The site is nearly complete but it was found that the post office boxes don’t fit properly, so new ones were ordered. When we get the date for the opening, we will update everyone on the website.

Property Owners and Developers update:
**Ed Meder, Gables Residential.
Gables submitted their preliminary site plan in August. They will go forward with Development Review Committee on September 28th, 2014. Gables Residential has been in numerous conversations with the county to get Executive Boulevard re-routed or abandoned. The surface parking lot surrounding the Aquatic Center will be transformed into a large public park, Wall Park, in the long term. Before the lot can be transformed, however, the shared parking garage for both the Gables property and the Aquatic Center will be developed. Ed Meder mentioned that the community, especially residents should provide their support for the Wall Park approval, which is planned to be the largest green space in the county.

**Jay Corbalis, Federal Realty Investment Trust
Pike & Rose development is progressing nicely. Per Sei apartments are open with people living there now. This fall, Phase 1 of retail will open. There will be about 4 restaurants, IPic movie theatre, Amp by Strathmore venue, and Sport and Health Fitness. Starbucks and Bank of America are open now. Del Frisco Grille plans to open around September 22nd. IPic movie theatre plans to open in the beginning of November, a few weeks before the next installment of the Hunger Games movie.

**Francine Waters, Lerner Enterprises
Lerner Enterprises is working on the preliminary plan and site plan.

**Kristi Smith, The JBG Companies
North Bethesda Market II site plan will be bought to the Development Review Committee on September 29.

**Brian Downie, Saul Center
Saul Center received sketch plan approval for all three properties in the White Flint sector. They hope to file their site plan late this year. They will have a pre-application community meeting before they file their site plan, to incorporate community input.

County Executive’s White Flint Implementation Coordinator Report
Dee provided a presentation on pedestrian and biking safety. She focused much of her presentation on the Western Workaround area. She mentioned it is important to start with the network grid of streets, which includes the changes coming to the Western Workaround. Currently, the County doesn’t have control of some roads owned by private properties, as the roads were to be dedicated by property owners, which was discussed during the planning process of the Sector Pan.

As part of the changes, the road near the North Bethesda Conference Center property/parking lot will be shifted, which will take away parking spaces. There must be a solution to replace parking so that is the idea behind the structured parking garage, which will be constructed in coordination with the streets. The design of roads and garage are taking place now.

The county is working with Gables Residential to get project to go further. There are a lot of issues the county has to work out to make sure traffic can still flow through the area.

County council passed the Hoya Street/ Town Avenue plan will be included in first phase.

As part of the new street grid, Executive Boulevard will crossover Rockville Pike and will continue to the north side of the White Flint Mall property and connect with Nebel Street. The county is working on design of this currently. In addition, Chapman Avenue/Maple Avenue construction will hopefully start in 9 months and it will connect with Old Georgetown Avenue. This will be another alternative to Rockville Pike, defusing traffic. A new fire station and senior affordable housing is already programmed in the county budget. These will be on the west side of Chapman Avenue.

Andrew Bossi- County DOT
Andrew focused on the relationship between county bus stops and crosswalks. Crosswalks cannot be put at every location. Elements such as speed limits and sight distance can effect the placement of bus stops.

Andrew and Ken Hartman mentioned that the flashing light at Bethesda Trolley Trail have been permanently placed and will continue to improve site distance.

Woodglen Drive bikeway was presented at last White Flint implementation meeting. There will be a cycle track on the west-side of the road way, similar to those along 15th Street Northwest and 1st Street Northwest in D.C. Cycle tracks allow cyclists to go two directions side by side on the side. They hope to start construction on the cycle track in October and should be a pretty quick project. The cycle track will start at the intersection of Edson Lane and Woodglen Drive to Nicholson Lane on Woodglen Drive. The idea is to extend the cycle track up to the White Flint Metro. Sidewalks will not be involved- will remain as it is.

Nebel Street will also have some type of biking infrastructure, either buffer bike plans or cycle track. Marinelli Road will have bike lanes.

Suzanne Hudson asked about DOT’s efforts to educate the public biking lanes. Andrew mentioned that education is really important to DOT. They have the 3 e’s: education, enforcement and engineering.

The county uses similar markers to distinguish bike lanes and bike areas to those listed in the manual on uniform biking measures. Each state adopts own system of demarcation but most adopt the federal’s uniform markers.

Andrew also mentioned that he hopes many developers will incorporate space and funding for the Capital Bike Share program.  Pike & Rose development has two bike share dock areas planned but now they need to fund the docking stations themselves.

Public Concerns and Suggestions
A concerned citizen is focused on the safety of crossing over Executive Boulevard and Rockville Pike. The cars are moving too fast and they believe the Pike needs to be turned into a boulevard. Perhaps, restriping and narrowing the road is just one suggestion. Maybe reducing the speed limit can help slow people down.

Another concerned citizen mentioned that our roads need to change because there have been changes in people’s priorities, with a societal shift towards alternate methods of transportation.

Ken Hartman, Director of the B-CC Regional Services Center, mentioned that a plan to extend the Circulator between the Twinbrook and White Flint Metro stations is in the works.

Many residents expressed concerns with snow removal as the season is coming again.

Suzanne Hudson mentioned there are lighting issues. There needs to be more lighting focused towards the sidewalks and the roads. DOT does have new streetlight, which will be placed throughout the county soon.

In addition, another concerned citizen mentioned that the manhole covers need to be leveled with the street on Rockville Pike, especially between the White Flint Metro station and the White Flint Mall.

Jay from Federal Realty mentioned that FoWF members should advocate for Old Georgetown Road to change from a six lane road to a four lane road.

Report from Councilmember Hans Riemer
In addition, the county is working creating bicycle and pedestrian priority areas. The White Flint sector is one of these priority areas.

White Flint is the epicenter of change, the place to achieve so many community goals.

There is a lot of support on the County Council for walkability. Currently, the council is working on the snow removal legislation. Snow removal is a challenge to biking and walkability. County can do a better job to keep mobility options open to all after it snows. In addition, we need to change the standard for building roads. He wants the council to focus again on the Road Code initiative.  The plan was sent to a work group but Hans is working with Councilmember Roger Berliner to bring the code back to the County Council this session. He hopes to have it approved by end of term in November.

In addition, the county is working on a new bicycling master plan and a pedestrian master plan, which has never been created before. The bicycling plan has not been updated in seven years.

Councilmember Riemer also mentioned that a walkability audit would be really beneficial. It will provide a space for residents to point out all their concerns. We need to have a good process to present their problems to the DOT and SHA and FOWF is good way to do this.

Coming Attractions
On Thursday, September 11th, the Branding of the Pike charette will take place at StreetSense in Bethesda.

Starting Monday, September 8th, “Give support,” If an individual donates $25 to Friends of White Flint, they will receive a $25 gift certificate to Paladar Latin Kitchen in the mail.  The fundraising event will run for month. All one has to do is go to the Friends of White Flint website, click on the Paypal icon and donate $25.

In addition, Strathmore donated two vouchers that will be distributed during our membership drive starting in the fall.

No motion to adjourn meeting. Meeting adjourned at 8:25 pm. 

Updates on North Bethesda Market II

Greg Trimmer presented JBG’s amended site plan for the North Bethesda Market II development project, located at Rockville Pike and Executive Boulevard, at this month’s White Flint Implementation meeting. The original site plan was approved in early 2012, however, there have been a few prevailing factors that have stopped the project from moving forward.

The first challenge JBG faced with this project was the office market. The original site plan included a 200,000 sq. foot office building as a main building. After much deliberation and analysis of the office market in the area, JBG decided to take the office building out of the plan. The second challenge was the residential pipeline. There are many high-priced apartments being constructed in the area causing high competition between developers to provide unique and exciting amenities to attract future residents. Even with these challenges, JBG has remained committed to creating this site and now is moving forward with the project.

Even though there are a few changes to the site plan, JBG still upholds its 5 main goals for the development project: a sense of place, design excellence, pedestrian focus, connection with North Bethesda Market I, and integration of uses.

The NoBe II project is designed from the inside out with the main plaza, featured in the picture below, as the heart of the plan. An upper plaza was added to the plan, which will consist of half public space for community members and half private space for residents., giving the plan two outdoor spaces. The plazas will provide space for the community members to participate in various activities and programming. Overall, there will be about 18,000 sq. feet of public space. Working with Olin Studios, JBG hopes to add aesthetically pleasing features such as water fountains and LED paneled steps to make the development unique.

nobearchbethesda_market_01

NoBe II Residential Tower

Though JBG decided to eliminate the office building, they will add a small residential building to add more residential space to the development.  This building will be a 12-story building, including retail on the second floor. This will be a condominium building with 80 residential units. JBG hopes to attract young professionals with these 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. The residential tower, the iconic element of the project, remains the same and will have only rental units. The residential tower is currently designed to be the county’s tallest building. The retail on the first floor of the residential tower will face Rockville Pike but it will be setback from the road, as the dedication of the right of way from the county has already been given.

The 2-story retail building will also remain. The lobby of this retail building will face Executive Boulevard, while the retail stores themselves will face inside towards the plaza. In addition, JBG hopes to use the roof for addition space for programming and activities for both residents and community members.

The existing office building on the corner of Woodglen Drive and Executive Boulevard will remain intact during the first 2 phases of the project. JBG will reevaluate the building after a few years to possible have a phase 3, said Greg Trimmer. This all depends on the how the office market changes in the coming years.

Phase I of NoBe II will include the construction of the residential tower.  Phase II will include the new residential building, as well as the retail building. Phase III will eventually deal with the existing office building on the corner of Executive Boulevard and Woodglen Drive. JBG hopes to start Phase 1 by 2015.

Updates from the July White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Committee Meeting

Here are the updates from the White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee meeting from Monday, July 14th:

Nkosi Yearwood began the committee meeting by discussing updates on one development project: Pike and Rose construction of Phase 1 is moving forward very nicely. The plan of Phase II is going to the Planning Board on July 24th. No other new plans are being submitted to the Board.

There will be an Implementation Committee meeting in August to discuss the bikeway improvements on Woodglen Drive. The meeting will take place on August 11th.

Francine Waters then provided the committee with an update from the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee meeting that took place last Tuesday. Cliff Cohen is the newly-elected Chair of the Committee as well as Brian Downie as the newly-elected Vice Chair of the Committee. Cliff set forth the goals of the committee to include maintenance and beautification of Rockville Pike, the streetscape of Rockville Pike, the establishment of a unified zip code, the creation and maintenance of a website for White Flint sector, the hire of an intern, public services and human services in the White Flint sector, and the search for a structure for funding to maintain all of the programs. The next Downtown Advisory Committee’s meeting will take place in September. (Read our post on that meeting by clicking here)

The public charette focused around the branding and name of the White Flint sector was also brought up by a committee member. There are no further details on the charette right now but it will provide a space for the public and community members to give their input on the branding and name of the sector. Stay tuned on the blog for more details about the charette and learn more about the plan by clicking here.

County White Flint Implementation Coordinator Dee Metz then provided her report for the Committee.  The Phase 1 of Pike and Rose had its first tenants move in at the end of June. Phase I has taken about four years to complete, which is record time for many development projects.  Currently, DOT is working on resolving bikeway facilities throughout the sector. The Woodglen Drive plan will be presented in August at the Implementation meeting. They are currently working on Nebel Street bikeway facilities, roadway, and utilities.  They hope to present a plan by this fall.

In addition, the county is working on amending the site plan of the North Bethesda Marriott Hotel and Conference Center to move the county garage plan forward. The amendment will separate the private project of the hotel from the public project of the conference center, allowing the county to design the garage.

Greg Trimmer from JBG then provided the committee with a presentation on the North Bethesda Market II amended site plan.  JBG provided minimal amendments to the plan.  The plan retains the plaza in phase I and retains the residential tower. They will add an additional residential building south of the plaza, which will add more residential units to the plan. The last phase of the plan will add to the existing office building, but only when the market improves.

Ed Meder from Gables Residential provided a presentation on the Gables White Flint plan. The site plan for this project will go in front of the Planning Board soon. There are many challenges Gables faces with this development project. First off, they will need to make the site go from a triangle shape to a rectangle shape. This means that traffic along Executive Boulevard and Old Georgetown Road has to be realigned around their site (this is the western workaround that you’ve heard us mention).  In addition, the county has to come to terms with the right of way to be purchased around the site. Plus, the shared parking lot for the Gables White Flint property and the aquatic center will have to secure funding first before the Gables White Flint development project can even begin. This project will provide small-scale buildings, which adds to the mix of scale throughout in the sector.

Stay tuned for a more detail report on each of these projects!

July White Flint Implementation Advisory Committee Meeting

White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee

Date: Monday, July 14, 2014 @ 7:00pm-8:30pm

Where: Federal Realty Investment Trust Headquarters, 1626 E. Jefferson Street Rockville, MD 20852

The agenda for the meeting includes:

1. Introductions

2. Updates

a. Development Activity

b. White Flint Downtown Committee

3. WF Implementation Coordinator Report

4. Presentation: NoBe II Amendment

5. Presentation: Gables White Flint

6. Next Meeting: August 11, 2014

What’s In and Out in White Flint

In:

Yesterday, Bethesda Now reported the news that Gaithersburg restaurant Quincy’s Bar and Grille will be opening a location in White Flint.  Featuring casual fare and live music, the newest Quincy’s will be located at 11401 Woodglen Drive, between Executive Boulevard and Nicholson Lane. It’s the mid-rise building with a shopping strip on the ground floor and it’s part of the second phase of JBG’s North Bethesda Market II.  Quincy’s is expected to be open by August 1st – read more about it on Bethesda Now by clicking here.

Out:

The White Flint Staples, on Rockville Pike and Nicholson Lane, has closed.  Back in March, the corporation announced its plan to contract its retail presence, focusing more toward online sales.  No word on what will occupy the space, which is slated to be part of Saul Centers’ redevelopment but not in the very short-term.  We hear that Staples’ lease is still in effect despite their decision to close but I’m hoping the space won’t sit empty for too long.  But, for your Staples fix, you need only travel 1.6 miles north on the Pike for their nearest location.

 

North Bethesda Market II Getting Back on Track

On Tuesday evening, JBG presented its latest thinking on the redevelopment of North Bethesda Market II, the block between Rockville Pike and Woodglen Drive, with Nicholson Lane to the north and Executive Boulevard to the south (excluding the Exxon station on the corner).  The site is planned to hold not only White Flint’s tallest building at 300 ft but the tallest building in the county.  And, with it’s unique architecture, it’s one of the projects we’re asked about most.

nobearchbethesda_market_01

Unfortunately, I missed Tuesday’s public meeting because I had the great fortune of being the featured speaker at Action Committee for Transit’s monthly meeting (thanks, ACT!), so I’m grateful that Aaron Kraut of Bethesda Now was there and posted a comprehensive piece on the plan.

The gist is that we’re looking at two phases of construction, with a modified balance between office, commercial and residential space.  The first phase will include a two-story retail building at the corner of Rockville Pike and Executive Boulevard.  A 150-foot tall, 80 unit residential building and a public plaza are also planned for the first phase.  The public plaza looks to be a draw with an “interactive fountain, wide staircase with public art and landscaping and could be closed off and transformed into a concert venue, outdoor movie festival or farmers market. Pilot said the space, which will be open to vehicle traffic, could easily fit 250 or 500 people.”  The second phase will bring the iconic 25-story residential tower, where units will range from modest studios to luxury penthouses.  A third phase, which will be market dependent and way out in the future, will address the mid-level office building on Executive and Woodglen that presently houses Paladar Latin Kitchen.

As for a timeline, Bethesda Now reports: “Attorney Steven Robins, from the Bethesda-based firm of Lerch, Early & Brewer, said the group hopes to submit its amended plans to the Planning Department in the next couple of weeks. That would put JBG in front of the Planning Board in the fall and could mean the start of first phase construction in February 2015.”  Read Aaron Kraut’s full recap and see new images by clicking here.

Image courtesy of JBG

North Bethesda Market II Ramping Back Up?

North Bethesda Market II has been proposed with one of the most unique architectural designs for White Flint redevelopment, thus far.  So, we were excited to receive an indication that this on-hold project might be coming back to life soon.  JBG is hosting a public meeting to “review amendments to previously approved plans and to discuss the proposed mixed-use development” that is North Bethesda Market II, on the property bounded by Rockville Pike, Nicholson Lane, Woodglen Drive and Executive Boulevard.

nobearchbethesda_market_01

According to the announcement (which indicates the property as being in Bethesda!), JBG will be seeking amendments to the original plan that propose “a reduction of the commercial component and an increase to the residential component while maintaining the same overall development concept and architectural direction.”  This is no surprise.  With commercial and office space sitting empty throughout the county, developers are rethinking their plans.  Our hope, though, is that White Flint will grow to be a solid commercial center so we hope developers aren’t being short-sighted in rescaling their balance between commercial and residential.  Montgomery County might not be attracting as much business right now as it hopes to, but that’s why county leaders are promising to take steps to shift that trend.

The meeting will be on Tuesday, June 10th from 7pm to 8pm at the Bethesda North Conference Center, in the Linden Oak Room.  RSVPs are appreciated, but not required, by emailing ecgeare@lerchearly.com (please put North Bethesda II Community Meeting in the subject line).  Can’t make it?  Don’t worry – your Friends will be there and we’ll post an update on the blog to keep you abreast of the news.