Pike Central Farmers Market Returns This Saturday

 

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It seems we’ve finally left winter behind and, along with sunshine and warm breezes, we are very excited to welcome the Pike Central Farmers Market back to White Flint!  Reopening for their second year this Saturday, April 13th, the market will feature over 40 local farmers, food artisans, meat and seafood vendors and much more.   Come hungry as there are always food trucks and other options ready for devouring on-site.

 

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Mitch Berliner and Debra Moser began Central Farm Markets as a retirement project five years ago.  Their original Bethesda Central Market, which runs on Sundays, was joined by Pike Central last year.  “Both Bethesda Central and Pike Central will celebrate the anniversary with a full season of wine tastings, chef demos, Kids Club activities, green product demos, Yoga classes, great musicians, as well as the annual Oyster Festival in Rockville, Bake-Bethesda-A-Pie Contest, ‘Where in the World is Your Market Red Bag Contest,’ annual Halloween party, guest bloggers, a visit from Mr. Divabetic from NYC and themed months with special events dedicated to those themes,” says Moser.

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 The usual Pike Central offerings will be complimented with new additions, including the Cook’s Corner with Chef Lynne Foster.   Cook’s Corner will be the “place for all things food, including cooking classes for adults and children, food demonstrations, market food tours, knife skills and small gadget demos.”

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And, keep an eye out for your Friends.  That’s right — the Friends of White Flint team will be present at several markets throughout the season to meet in person and talk more about what’s coming to White Flint.

Pike Central Farmers Market is located on the Pike and Rose property, at Rockville Pike between Old Georgetown and Montrose Roads.  The market will be open Saturdays through December 22nd from 9am until 2pm.  Plenty of parking is available on-site.

 

See White Flint grow over time

Today, White Flint is a regional employment and shopping destination. Tomorrow, it could be a new downtown for Montgomery County. But just a few decades ago, White Flint was just a rural crossroads. Using aerial photos from Google Earth and the county’s Geographic Information Services, or GIS software, we can track the development of White Flint over time. (You can click any of the images to make them bigger.)

1951

Image from Montgomery County GIS.

Image from Montgomery County GIS.

In 1951, White Flint was mostly forests and farms between the bustling towns of Bethesda and Rockville. Suburban development was just beginning to reach the area; in this photo, Garrett Park Estates was still being built, while Luxmanor had already been established for over a decade. And, of course, Dietle’s Tavern had just opened.

1970

Image from Montgomery County GIS.

Image from Montgomery County GIS.

By the 1970’s, White Flint had become a bedroom community, with several subdivisions under construction and new schools, including Tilden Middle School and Woodward High. Strip malls began opening along Rockville Pike, including Mid-Pike Plaza and Loehmann’s Plaza, as new roads like Executive Boulevard, Nebel Street and Parklawn Drive opened to serve them. The Forum opened, making it the first of many high-rise residential buildings to be built in White Flint.

1979

Image from Montgomery County GIS.

Image from Montgomery County GIS.

By 1979, White Flint had become a regional shopping and employment destination. White Flint Mall had opened two years earlier, while organizations like the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) set up offices on Rockville Pike. Residential development in the area was now predominantly townhouses and garden-style condominiums, as you can see south of Nicholson Lane.

1988

Image from Google Earth.

Image from Google Earth.

By 1988, the White Flint Metro station was 4 years old, carrying commuters to Bethesda and into the District. Woodward High School closed the year earlier and Tilden Middle School took over its building, leaving its original site as a holding center for other schools. Most of White Flint’s main streets had been completed, and the road network looks more or less like it does today.

2002

Image from Google Earth.

Image from Google Earth.

During the 1990’s, White Flint continued to grow. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission opened their offices on Rockville Pike, and the Forum was joined by additional luxury high-rises, like the Grand and the Wisconsin.

2007

Image from Google Earth.

Image from Google Earth.

A lot changed between 2002 and 2007. After years of debate, the Montrose Parkway was finally under construction; the Bethesda North Conference Center opened, and the first phase of North Bethesda Center was under construction.

2012

Image from Google Earth.

Image from Google Earth.

In this image taken last year, we can see the White Flint envisioned in the Sector Plan taking shape. Montrose Parkway opened in 2009. Wentworth House, the first building at North Bethesda Center, was completed and a second building is under construction. The first phase of North Bethesda Market is open, replacing the humble Park Inn and giving White Flint the county’s tallest building. Mid-Pike Plaza has given way to Pike + Rose, the first phase of which should open in 2014. And further south, the ASHA headquarters has been replaced by Symphony Park, a high-end townhouse development.

Yet even as some things change, some stay the same. Georgetown Prep is there as it’s been for almost a century, and Hank Dietle’s Tavern is still serving beer up the street.

Are there any changes we’ve missed? What things are you glad have stuck around in White Flint? And what are you looking forward to in the future?

Bike Maryland’s 16th Annual Bicycle Symposium – February 27, 2013

Bike lanes and bike-share are at the heart of White Flint.  In fact, one of the enumerated aims of the Sector Plan is to “improve the pedestrian and bicycling environment.”  But, there’s a lot of room to grow on both of those points.  The State and County are responsible for road improvements around White Flint that will incorporate bike and shared-use lanes but most are yet to be funded.  The County is also in the process of choosing which bike-share vendor will serve the area.  Two proposed developments, Archstone and Pike & Rose, have already dedicated bike-share sites in their plans.

Bike Maryland’s mission is to “promote bicycling, increase safety, improve conditions, and provide a voice for bicyclists in Maryland.”  Their 16th Annual Bicycle Symposium will be held on February 27, 2013 from 8:30am to 4:30pm at the Miller Senate Building in the President’s Conference Center, 11 Bladen Street in Annapolis.

The symposium will offer attendees: “the opportunity to hear from and talk to 15+ experts presenting on topics ranging from Bike Maryland’s Legislative Agenda, Bike-share’s, Bike-Minded Programs, the new Maryland Bikeways Program, and much more! This is also a chance for non-profit, government, and community leaders to learn about key bicycle issues and ways to encourage bike friendly practices and accessibility at schools, in neighborhoods, and in the workplace.  The agenda to be announced in late January.  The symposium draws over 300 experts, decision-makers, and enthusiasts, from the Mid-Atlantic region, who share an interest in alternative transportation options, innovative infrastructure, and safe practices on roadways and trails.  This event is free and open to the public.”

Learn more and RSVP on their website: http://onelesscar.org/page.php?id=533

“Real doors” give human scale, house-like benefits to apartment living

Are these rowhouses? Nope, they’re “real doors.” All photos by the author unless noted.

Houses have their perks: a yard, a private entrance, and a sense of individuality. Apartments have theirs as well: they’re affordable, low-maintenance, and have lots of shared amenities. What if you could get best of both worlds? Several new apartment communities being built in White Flint do just that with something called “real doors.”

What are “real doors”? Basically, it’s when a multi-family building contains ground-floor apartments or rowhouses with private entrances opening directly to the street. Instead of walking by blank walls or loading docks, you’d pass doors, stoops, porches and more importantly, people.

This is by no means a new idea, but “real doors” have become especially relevant as a way to give large buildings human scale. Danish urban designer Jan Gehl notes that our field of view doesn’t go far above eye level, so most pedestrians only pay attention to details at the street level. You might think you’re walking by a block of rowhouses, but they could just be the base of a high-rise.

“Real doors” also make streets safer by providing more “eyes on the street.” They give residents the privacy and individuality of a house with the communal amenities and low maintenance of an apartment. And they allow architects and developers to provide so-called “missing middle” house types that could accommodate families, like rowhouses, in areas where land values are so high that they’re not economically feasible.

I got to see the benefits of “real doors” firsthand in Philadelphia, where for two years I lived on the ground floor of a 100-year-old house that had been turned into apartments decades ago. My roommate and I had affordable rent, just enough space and a doting landlord. We could also walk out from our living room to the front porch, out to the street, and around to the back yard, which made it feel like a house.

“Real doors” have become part of the design culture in places like Vancouver, where former planning director Brent Toderian jokes that they’re great for trick-or-treating. They will become a common design feature in White Flint, as it supports the urban design goals of its Sector Plan. Two projects being built there, Pike + Rose and Archstone Old Georgetown Road, will include them.

However, not all “real doors” are created equal. Done poorly, they can look like an afterthought, feel anonymous and compromise privacy. Let’s look at some examples from around the area and the country:

GOOD

Ground-floor apartment at Halstead Square in Merrifield.

These are “real doors” at Halstead Square, an apartment and retail complex being built in Merrifield. (Check out some more pictures.) These doors belong to single-story, one-bedroom apartments, and each one has a little stoop and an address number. The floor-to-ceiling windows are nice, but they’re so close to the ground that people walking by can easily look in.

Tall stoops at Citron in Silver Spring.

At Citron, an apartment building under construction in downtown Silver Spring, “real doors” help it relate to the single-family homes across the street. The ground-floor units are high enough to be private, which would’ve been a nice opportunity to expand those stoops into porches.

BETTER

Ground-floor duplexes at the Market Common in Clarendon.

These ground-floor rowhouses at the Market Common in Clarendon each have different-colored doors, giving them their own identity. The building as a whole has similar materials and detailing as the actual rowhouses at the end of the block, helping it blend in.

“Real doors” with private yards at the Silverton. Image from Google Street View.

These “real doors” at the Silverton in South Silver Spring are set back from the street, which provides room for a semi-private, gated patio with enough room for a table and chairs. Though they have big, low windows like Halstead Square, the trees help give shade and privacy. I might have made the doors themselves more distinctive, perhaps with a different paint color or frosted glass panels.

BEST

These rowhouses at Eliot Tower in Portland have raised decks.

The best “real doors” I’ve found are on the West Coast. This is the Eliot Tower in downtown Portland, a tower with two-story rowhouses at its base. Each house has a front deck raised several steps above the street, and you can see how each deck has a tree or some leafy plants for privacy and visual impact.

Rowhouses with yards at the Meriwether in Portland.

At the Meriwether, a tower in Portland’s Southwest Waterfront, there are ground-floor rowhouses set behind little yards. Not only do they provide a buffer from the street, but they appear to be part of a bioswale that collects and filters runoff water before it heads to the Willamette River, a few hundred yards away. You can see each house has decks on multiple floors, giving it plenty of outdoor space. And residents have them their own, judging from these hot pink Adirondack chairs.

WORST

Less-than-great “real doors” at Lofts 24 in Silver Spring. Image from Google Street View.

Believe it or not, this is the entrance to two ground-floor condominiums at Lofts 24, also in downtown Silver Spring. Other than the welcome mat outside the door on the right, there’s no indication that people actually live here.

Rather than a house, this feels like the entrance to a storage unit. There are no street numbers, no individual open space, and no buffer from the street. The only landscaping are bushes that cover the windows.

While these examples aren’t perfect, they show the opportunities and challenges of providing “real doors.” The scale of development in many urban neighborhoods has gotten bigger, but humans generally remain the same size, so we still have to design to that scale.

Not only can “real doors” make otherwise big buildings feel more comfortable, but they can make safer and more visually attractive streets and offer people a desirable mix of house and apartment living. That is, if we do them right.

Check out this slideshow with examples of “real doors” from around the region and country.

Pike + Rose: the stakes are high, but the benefits could be huge

Rendering of Pike + Rose. When finished, it'll be 5 times the size of Bethesda Row.

Rendering of Pike + Rose. When finished, it’ll be 5 times the size of Bethesda Row.

Federal Realty’s mixed-use developments have transformed suburbs from Bethesda to San Jose. But the size and ambition of their newest project, Pike + Rose in White Flint, will test the limits of creating an urban place from scratch.

Last week, the Rockville-based developer unveiled their plans for Pike + Rose, a new neighborhood that will be built over the next several years at the former Mid-Pike Plaza shopping center at Rockville Pike and Montrose Parkway. As Lindsay Hoffman wrote last week, it will be huge, with 3.5 million square feet of apartments, offices, shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and a hotel on 24 acres. The first of four phases at Pike + Rose broke ground this summer and will open in 2014; when finished, it’ll be 5 times the size of Bethesda Row, which took Federal Realty over a decade to build.

But unlike Bethesda Row, which was built in an established community with some urban features, Pike + Rose will attempt to create an urban environment from scratch. The challenge is to create a place that feels “authentic” without the benefit of time and to encourage tenants and visitors to get out of their cars in an area where driving is often the only way to get around.

As the first big project to be built under the White Flint Sector Plan approved in 2010, county planners, elected officials, other developers and residents will be watching to see how successful it is. If done well, Pike + Rose could become a standard-bearer for White Flint, a glimpse of the community’s future and a signal to other property owners to step up their game.

Will it be “authentic”?

Bethesda Row

Bethesda Row, another Federal Realty project. Photo by eddie.welker on Flickr.

New suburban town centers are often derided as fake and contrived, though they have the ability to create meaningful urban places. Like other Federal Realty projects, Pike + Rose tries to avoid this by looking like it’s been built over time.

One way is through having a variety of building forms. Along Rockville Pike are tall office towers with large retail spaces, which will give big companies and big-box stores alike the visibility and prominence they want. In the center of the site is Grand Park Avenue, a street with smaller shops, restaurants and a plaza that could become Pike + Rose’s social heart.

And along Hoya Street are a line of “point towers,” apartment buildings whose ground-floor units have private entrances and yards, providing a transition to the residential neighborhoods to the west.

Another is by having different architects design each building. Three firms worked on Pike + Rose, including WDG Architecture of the District and Street-Works of New York, which also worked on Bethesda Row and Rockville Town Square, and Baltimore-based Design Collective.

As a result, the architecture varies widely from building to building. In the first phase is 11800 Grand Park Avenue, a modernist office building with huge panels of glass and metal accents, and PerSei, an apartment building made to resemble a brick warehouse. In the second phase is a building with terra cotta panels and a heavy cornice that mimics architect Louis Sullivan’s Wainwright Building in St. Louis.

Some of these buildings are more successful than others. This approach is hard to do, and when executed poorly, it really can feel artificial. But it can be avoided if each building, regardless of architectural style, is done to a high standard.

A building with poor details or cheap materials in any style will look bad, but if those things are done well, the building should mature with time. Federal Realty did a good job with this in Bethesda Row and Rockville Town Square, though it may be too early to tell how they’ll look in the future.

Will it be “connected”?

Site plan showing the new streets and blocks at Pike + Rose.

Site plan showing the new streets and blocks at Pike + Rose.

To its potential tenants and visitors, Pike + Rose claims to offer a complete live-work-play environment. But Ben Harris, who writes a local blog called North FlintVille, notes that a truly “organic” development is one that “is itself a small part of a greater whole.”

The White Flint Sector Plan calls for a grid of new streets, which will divert traffic from Rockville Pike, provide multiple connections between each development, and make it easier to get around by foot or bike. Pike + Rose does their part with their network of streets and pedestrian passages, which divide the site into 9 city blocks. Those streets will eventually link up with new streets built by Montgomery County and the state of Maryland, such as an extension of Hoya Street to Old Georgetown Road.

Though the streets are pretty narrow compared to the arterial roads surrounding the development, they appear to have generous sidewalks with lots of landscaping and street trees. The blocks themselves are fairly small; most average about 300 feet long, comparable to blocks in older, inner-city neighborhoods.

Federal Realty’s renderings show lively streets lined with restaurants and shops, but it’s important that they don’t simply stop at the edge of the development. That’s what happened at Rockville Town Square, which has two great internal streets but presents blank walls, loading docks and parking garages to the rest of the world.

If Rockville Pike is going to become an urban boulevard, it needs to have buildings open onto it, whether with shops, restaurants, or even large windows that people can see into. The same goes for Old Georgetown Road, where the Sector Plan calls for a two-acre Civic Green across from Pike + Rose that could become White Flint’s answer to Dupont Circle.

The stakes are high

Aerial rendering of Pike + Rose.

Aerial rendering of Pike + Rose.

Ten years ago, Federal Realty decided to stick with building and running strip malls. They’d literally been burned by Santana Row, an ambitious town center in San Jose that suffered a catastrophic fire and opened half-empty in a recession, and decided that the risk and complexity of urban redevelopment wasn’t worth it.

Today, it’s a nationally recognized development success; buoyed by demographic patterns that favor mixed-use development, Federal Realty has moved on to even bigger projects.

Like Santana Row, the stakes at Pike + Rose are high. Judging from the details we have so far, it could not only transform White Flint, but light the way for suburban redevelopments across the country.

Crossposted at Greater Greater Washington.

rePIKEalization – an Update on Pike and Rose

rePIKEalization: changing the perception of Rockville Pike

Federal Realty Investment Trust  has coined a new term to go along with its development at Pike & Rose: rePIKEalization.  The image reinforces Federal Realty’s vision for the White Flint District and was highlighted at their recent Phase 2 Site Plan and Preliminary Plan Amendment Pre-Submission Meeting.  Nearly 100 community members congregated to hear the latest from Vice President of Development, Evan Goldman.  He stressed that Federal Realty’s expertise in mixed use development, their concentration in retail, and an emphasis on placemaking will make Pike & Rose a jewel in White Flint.

It’s striking how much will be accomplished on the concrete footprint that is now Mid-Pike Plaza. But, at full build-out, Pike & Rose will encompass about 3.5 million square feet of development.  This includes 1.1 million ft2 of office space, 430K feet2 of retail and 1,500 residential units (around 200 being moderately priced dwelling units).

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Phase One of Pike & Rose has already broken ground and Goldman provided an update on the 900,000 ft2 project, scheduled for delivery in Spring of 2014 (residential) and Fall of 2014 (retail).  Phase One includes the 18-story Pallas residential building which will feature approximately 300 units, including larger 3-BR and 2-BR with den options.  Tenants will enjoy a roof deck with party room, pool and garden plots for rent right on the green roof.

Pallas

 

Persei is a 4-story wood frame mixed-use building.  Two restaurants will share the lower level – one will be a pizza joint compared to 2 Amys downtown, the other will be a café/wine bar with outdoor space.  Nearby, a tree grotto will also feature a wood deck and outdoor seating for events.  Both Pallas and Persei are planned as rental properties but Goldman acknowledged that Pallas might become a condo building in the future.

Persei

The public jewel of Phase One is a retail space housing a handful of unique spots for White Flint visitors.  First, iPic Movie Theaters bill themselves as a luxury moviegoing experience.  Featuring leather chairs and recliners, patrons reserve their assigned seats for one of the eight screens online.  Nearby, guests are welcome to dine in at Tanzy Restaurant, but a partnership with iPic broadens a diner’s options.  Guests can also pick up express meals from Tanzy to enjoy in their theater seats or, for a premium, be served by wait staff during the show.  Salt Bar will have a presence, as well.

iPIC Theater, looking southwest

To, literally, top off an evening out, a jazz club will be situated right above the movie theater.  Expected to spread 2800ft2, the venue will feature glass walls that will open up in seasonable weather.  Performances are expected on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and the space will be available for rent at other times.   When noise concerns were raised at the public meeting, Goldman assured those present that the club will be elevated 40ft and shielded by offices and green roof.  Although there appear to be some planning and permitting hoops in navigating the final the space, the excitement in the room was palpable.

The Second Phase of Pike & Rose will feature seven buildings divided over two sub-phases.  The first sub-phase (2A) breaks ground in February 2014 on the first four buildings with an expected delivery of 2016.

First, a 300-unit boutique hotel is planned.  Goldman wasn’t ready to share the name of the hotel company they are working with but did hint that two of their properties are listed in Conde Nast magazine’s top 20 hotels in the country.

Block 7 - Hotel and Retail

A mixed-use building will feature intricate brick work reminiscent of architect Louis Sullivan. Eight stories of residential units (presently projected as rental) stand atop two levels of retail all adjacent to a quaint park.  Nearby, two pocket kiosk buildings will house a coffee shop and a restaurant to enliven the whole block.

Rose Park and Residential/Retail

Rose Park (also seen in the image above) was highlighted as a unique amenity on the property.  Not meant to be a “big, flat space,” the Park will feature an amphitheater and sloped lawn for seating.  A rolling hill effect will include low stone walls, creating pockets of lawn to be used as destinations, rather than cut-throughs.

Nearby, a two-story retail building will, again, focus on details and placemaking with a beautiful façade, awnings and huge arched windows.  With a second floor full of glass and light, it’s no surprise that Federal Realty is in talks with a restaurant to occupy the space.

Building 4!

A second two-story retail building rounds out Phase 2A and will sit at the South side of the entrance to Pike and Rose, right on Rockville Pike.

Phase 2B will be built-out when the market is supportive and will include a high-rise office building, a 200-unit residential building and another office/day care facility.  Federal Realty is hoping that the Planning Department will allow some flexibility with the office building’s size and has requested a range of 6-8 stories.  Located at the corner of Pike and Montrose, the goal is for the building to be sized based on the market as it exists when the phase begins.  The residential building included in Phase 2B (seen below)  features a unique structure that arches over the road.  At 200 units, the building’s roof will be an outdoor amenity space for residents with offerings including a lawn, pool, grill area and fitness center.

Block 2

All in all, Phase 2 of Pike & Rose will include 3 surface parking lots, street trees and bushes and a great deal of storm water management.  Because 40% of the site’s surfaces are permeable, between the ground and green roofs, we’re looking at a huge improvement over the vast parking lots that exist today.  Federal Realty is also undertaking major upgrades to the WSSC water and sewer lines.  Property owners between the Pike & Rose site and the Cabin John Creek watershed will likely reap benefits from the infrastructure investment Federal Realty is making.

Traffic and parking was a source of concern among some community members present at the meeting but Goldman assured them that many lessons have been learned from the growth in downtown Bethesda. Pike & Rose will feature multiple parking garages with multiple entrances to ease congestion and Federal Realty will maintain control of all parking.  Office parking will be open to the public evenings and weekends.

Pike & Rose is located less than 1/8 mile from the White Flint metro station (even less if the new entrance on Old Georgetown Road ever comes to fruition).  It’s also right on the planned BRT line and has two Bike Share locations dedicated on the property.  A major source of concern remains the infrastructure over which Federal Realty has no control – including the realignment of other County roads.  The final improvements to Old Georgetown Road and Hoya, for example, aren’t even funded in the current 6-year CIP.  When the County does its part on the transit and transportation piece, we’ll be well on our way toward rePIKEalization.