How do you make it easier to walk and bike around a community?

Let's choose a grid

According to this article, there are six things a community can do to encourage people to ditch heir cars and instead walk or bike as the go about their day. Here’s how the Pike District scores on each.

 

1) Stop building cul-de-sacs and bring back the grid

(Yes — the Pike District is developing a robust grid throughout the White Flint area.)

2) Change zoning rules to allow for density and mixed-use development.

(Yes — The 2010 Sector Plan did just that.)

3) Eliminate parking requirements

(Sort of — we’re definitely headed in the right direction.)

4) Put roads on a diet and make lanes narrower.

(Sort of — look for more of this in the future, especially on Route 355 and other main thoroughfares.)

5) Build protected bike lanes

(Yes — check out at Woodglen and Nebel and soon lots of other streets in the Pike District.)

6) Connect bike lanes to create usable routes

(Sort of — The County is working to make this a reality.)

 

 

 

Board/Community Meeting TONIGHT!

meeting sign

Just in case you’ve missed the dozen of other reminders, tonight is the Friends of White Flint Board/Community Meeting.  It will start at 7:00 pm and be held at The Forum, 11801 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852.  Come hungry — &pizza is delivering 40 pizzas to the meeting. (Thank you, &pizza at Pike & Rose!)

Below is the agenda:

7:00                 Call to order

7:01 to 7:05    Approval of March Minutes

7:05 to 7:10    Financial Report

7:10 to 7:25    Property Owner Updates

7:25 to 7:40    Pick the Pike District Campaign

7:40 to 8:00    Membership Fee Structure

8:00 to 8:15    Events, including Grill Night and Seniors Forum

8:15 to 8:30    Other Business

Where is all the office space?

Executive Director Amy Ginsburg, here.  I’m often asked why there isn’t more office space being built in the White Flint area.  As one person said to me, “All that’s going up are apartments and restaurants. Don’t get me wrong; I love all those restaurants. But where’s the work in ‘live-work-play’?”

Yesterday, Montgomery County Planning Department released a detailed Office Market Assessment for Montgomery County yesterday that provides some answers. First, some quick office space stats:

  • A total of 71.5 million square feet of office space is currently vacant throughout the Washington, DC region.

  • Montgomery County has nearly 11 million square feet of vacant office space, accounting for 15 percent of regional vacancies. (Fairfax has the largest share at 28% of vacant office space.)

  • The county’s office vacancy rate is just about 15%, and rents have decreased 7.8 percent since 2008.

  •  The Great Recession hit Montgomery County harder than the rest of the DMV, causing our share of regional employment to fall from 15.7 in 2004 to 14.7% to 2013. Washington, DC, Fairfax County, and Arlington County increased their shares of employment in our region.

Looking forward, it seems that numerous trends will make it harder to fill office space in Montgomery County.

  • The Federal government, long a bastion of office-space-renting agencies, continues to cut spending.

  • More jobs are being created in places that don’t require offices — retailers, restaurants, health care facilities — than in professional and technical services.

  • Telecommuting and hoteling lessen the amount of office space that companies need, even if they grow their workforce.

  • The average office size is down to 180 square feet per employee, down from 250 square feet, and some believe it will sink down to 150 square feet per employee. Open office design is replacing the corner office.

But despair not. There’s some great news in this report for the Pike District.  

  • The report said, “The most successful office clusters in Montgomery County are part of mixed-use developments with a strong sense of place and a quality environment. Transit connectivity is increasingly important to office tenants. This trend is consistent with recommended land use strategies in recent County plans for White Flint, Bethesda, White Oak and other communities.”

  • The report also said, “Office style and location are becoming an important factor. Millennials are showing much great affinity for urban, walkable areas that allow them to live, work, play within close proximity without a car. They and others also place increasing value on a sustainable workplace that provides a healthy work setting and that reflects their environmental values.”

So what does all this mean? To sum it all up in one sentence, it’s going to be hard to fill office space, but the office space that is going to get built and leased will be in places just like the Pike District.

Transit Task Force Testimony

Transit Task Force Logo

In case you’re interested, I thought I’d share my recent testimony to the Transit Task Force.  (If you’re not interested, click back on Monday … and every weekday, actually … for another new post on a diverse range of topics relating to the White Flint/Pike District area.)

My name is Amy Ginsburg, and I am the Executive Director of Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit organization with nearly 1,300 supporters, including residents, businesses, homeowners associations, and property owners.  Our only mission is to ensure the full implementation of the White Flint Sector Plan so that the promise of a walkable, transit-oriented, smart-growth community is achieved in the Pike District.

A Rapid Transit System is critical to creating an energetic, prosperous community in the Pike District. RTS is indispensable for improving the quality of life for a growing population and to attracting businesses and retailers to the Pike District.

We need to provide Montgomery County with the ability to efficiently and quickly create the kind of walkable, transit-friendly community so important to our future sustainability. An Independent Transit Authority is certainly a strong option to permit us to design and build out the RTS along Route 355 as quickly as possible.

Moving forward with RTS for Route 355 is vital for the County.  Delays will be highly detrimental to the successful transformation of the Pike District.  I urge the Transit Task Force to make rapid transit on Rockville Pike a top priority. In fact, we believe that a Bus Rapid Transit system on Route 355 should be the first line of the RTS.  A successful Rockville Pike line will demonstrate how RTS can have a positive impact in the community in a highly visible manner.  Fortunately, the White Flint area has the density, businesses and support to be a successful pilot.  Such a pilot program on Route 355 will make it easy to see a Rapid Transit System creating a vibrant, thriving community in the White Flint area.

From all of us at Friends of White Flint, thank you for your continued support of the White Flint Sector Plan.

A fun-filled Grill Night at Wall Park

Check out these happy photos from last night’s very fun, very successful, first-ever Grill Night at Wall Park. More than 75 people enjoyed music, food, and s’mores in our own Wall Park.  You won’t want to miss the next two Wall Park Grill Nights July 21 and August 18. (And a huge thank you to Montgomery Parks, Communities for Transit, and White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee for all their hard work organizing Grill Night.)

Friends of White Flint in the Post

FOWF in the Post

Bill Turque wrote an insightful piece in yesterday’s Washington Post about the perils and potential around cycling in Montgomery County. (And for the record, we think it’s a good piece not just because Friends of White Flint Amy Ginsburg was quoted in it.)

In the article, Montgomery County officials said, “The goal is to connect a system left fragmented by years of ad hoc planning in which riders can sail along for miles on bike lanes or off-road trails only to hit dead ends — or intersections with wide, high-speed roads that are exceedingly difficult to cross.”

Bicycles are an important part of multi-modal travel, especially in the Pike District, so we thank the Post for bringing attention to this important issue and support the County’s efforts to make our area more bike-friendly.

Free Ice Tea and a Downtown Advisory Committee Meeting Recap

Congratulations to Friends of White Flint board member Brian Downie for being elected chair of the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee at yesterday’s meeting. Congrats also to Tom Murphy who was elected vice chair at the same meeting.

As for other news from yesterday’s Downtown Advisory Committee Meeting, here you go:

  • You should soon see pretty new landscaping along the median in Rockville Pike.

  • The County Executive’s office continues to work on bike lanes on Nebel Street and Nicholson Lane.

  • The PikeDistrict.org is being promoted at events like Bike to Work Day.

  • The marketing committee of the Downtown Advisory is working on an iconic event for the Pike District.

  • The committee will be holding a retreat in the near future.

Have s’more fun in just one week

Grill Night Wall Park

You won’t want to miss the first Grill Night of Summer. Grab your friends and family and enjoy a yummy s’more at the firepit while listening to great rock and blues by The Crimestoppers. You bring something to grill, and we’ll supply the paper goods, soft drinks, and snacks. RSVP here.

Sponsored by Communities by Transit, Montgomery Parks, the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee, and of course, Friends of White Flint, Grill Night is going to be a night to remember. June 16, 6:30 to 8:30, Wall Park.

Transit Task Force Public Forum June 17

The Montgomery County Executive’s Transit Task Force will host a public forum on Wednesday, June 17 at 6 p.m. in the County Council’s Third Floor Hearing Room, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, so residents can express their views on subjects before the Transit Task Force.

“This public forum gives residents an opportunity to comment on the organizational and financial issues contained in the earlier legislative proposal,” said Mark Winston, chair of the Montgomery County Transit Task Force. “Input from the community will help guide our deliberations over the summer to improve the legislation to help enable the County to implement the approved rapid transit network expeditiously and at the best possible price.”

The Transit Task Force has been reconvened to review the prior legislation and recommend how best to organize and finance implementation of a high-performance bus rapid transit system. The objective of the Task Force is to complete a draft report and possibly propose state legislation by early September.  Such additional documents will be the subject of a public forum, tentatively scheduled for September 2015, where input will be received prior to submitting a final report

Residents wishing to speak at the forum must sign up prior to noon on June 17. No sign ups will be allowed during the forum. To register to speak, call 240-777-7165, Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Anyone signing up must provide their name, address and contact information.

It is planned that 40 people will be able to present their views during the public forum. Speakers will have three minutes to make their comments and are encouraged to submit written remarks – which may include additional information and materials.  Those who are unable to testify can submit written comments to the “Contact Us” portion of the Task Force web page. The record will be kept open until July 1, 2015.

The Task Force has made background information available to the public, including those wishing to express their views during the public forum. Included are the following documents:

1.       The draft state legislation that was introduced.

2.       A summary of the draft legislation prepared by County Attorney Marc Hansen.

3.       “Transit Task Force Debt and Budget Issues,” provided to the Task Force by County Finance Director Joseph Beach.

4.       “Transit Task Force VHB Report,” addressing organizational and transfer of functions issues.

5.       Other materials also are available, such as the original Task Force report.

 

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Gorgeous, just gorgeous.

Amy here.  I gotta be honest.  Although I love my townhouse in Stoneybrook (right behind Grosvenor metro, for those of you who don’t know this wonderful townhome community), I would move to Pallas at Pike & Rose in a heartbeat. It’s gorgeous.

I had the chance to take a tour of Pallas Apartments last week, including the still-under-construction floors while wearing an oh-so-chic hard hat. I couldn’t decide if I loved the 6th floor garden area, the glass solarium, or the resort pool area more, but I could certainly picture myself nurturing my herbs in my private garden box, hosting a dinner party in the solarium, and lounging on a chaise refreshingly located in a few inches of cool pool water.

And the apartments! (I know, I’m gushing. Forgive me. But Pallas really is spectacular.) While the kitchens and bathrooms with their beautiful cabinetry and glass backsplashes were amazing, my favorite feature was the little wall nook by the front door for stashing your keys and phone. (Heck, I’d probably get back a full week of my life for all the times I wouldn’t have to search for my phone and keys around my house.)

There’s a full-time concierge not just to help you dry clean your favorite suit but also to set up a special tequila bar for your annual Cinco de Mayo party or score some tickets to a sold-out show. One of the coolest amenities is a stash of bikes with big baskets so you can easily cycle to the farmers market or grocery store to pick a few yummy things.

They advertise Pallas as ‘better than home’ — and they’re right.

TIER_IV_V02_COURTYARD_POC-1100x610 Pallas_Federal_Realty_203_Kitchen_F-1366x610