Live blogging from the May 7, 2009, worksession of the Montgomery County Planning Board on the White Flint Sector Plan. Current topic is the new design guidelines.
John Carter, Chief Urban Design and Preservation Division, who has been involved with the White Flint Plan from the start three years ago, with Luis Estrada, project urban designer for White Flint, introduced the Guidelines. Hanson: this is not regulatory, just to give an idea of what is expected. Robinson: there’s a question. Some of these seem pretty prescriptive. Hanson: I don’t think we want that. The Plan will say the limits and maximum density. Carter: More detail will come as we go district-by-district through the guidelines. This is the glue that holds the vision together.
Carter: Not done yet, still being worked over. Once you finish the Plan, the design guidelines will catch up with that. We’ll bring the other agencies in so this is a county-wide agreement. Spirit this comes to you is in producing a lot of stuff. We’ll show how the districts fit together.
Estrada: describe streets, open space and buildings as they affect the public realm. Starting with the composite map results of a few weeks ago, to help us understand how to frame the guidelines. “Developer’s Composite” photo. Start with public roads, supplemented by proposed roads, in between a network of public open spaces. Promenades linking east-west and north-south, and a recreational loop. Expanded Loop from original plan to better serve all neighborhoods, especially with extensions. Adding local trails and historical sites (adds Montrose Schoolhouse). Tied to regional trails.
Estrada: 4 different walkways to four corners of the sector. Establishes character. First is Metro to Civic Green through Mid-Pike Plaza. Definition of the blocks along the corridor will be compatible, and culminating at the civic Green, the major gathering space for the sector.
Second walk: starts at Metro to Maple Ave to Metro East corner. Through North Bethesda Center, to existing developments along Citadel, to the new development.
Third walk: metro to conference center to wall Park to North Bethesda Marketplace.
Fourth walk is along the Pike to White Flint Mall. along the Promenade to connect north-south. envisioning more contemporary buildings since the right of way is substantial. More architecture character is possible.
Fifth walk is through White Flint Mall itself, through the various neighborhoods of that development. From the front of the Mall to the north and around to the new Park site to the east. More residential as you move closer to the edge of the district which are adjacent to residential neighborhoods. A new park to the south of the Mall.
Area 1 issues: improving pedestrian environment along Rockville Pike; wide sidewalks, underground utilities, and safe pedestrian intersections. Area 2: 355 and Old Georgetown Rd; street beautification, more mid-block connections and transitions. Area 3: Pike and Nicholson; same as area 2. Area 4, by Mall, transitions with existing neighborhoods. As move to district/neighborhood levels, have a series of maps to describe.
Carter: conceptualization of aspirations and then applications. Cmsnr Robinson: very helpful format. consistent across neighborhoods. As you do district organization, you get lots of these things coming together. Estrada: Still more work to do. Carter: this doesn’t go in the Plan, but it’s an analytical tool to show how these things go into the public realm.
The Board applauded the presentation.
Cmsnr Cryor: pedestrians crossing the street? Carter: need to redesign the intersection to protect and accommodate the pedestrians. Cmsnr Presley: can we insure that these aren’t going to be undone by DoT. Carter: we have to make this an Urban District. DoT has different models. Hanson: You can do that in the Master Plan. Carter: once do that, you can direct the rest of the improvements. Once you build a new building, utilities must be underground. It’s the big lines to get those underground, so need some power to get that done. But we’ve been pretty successful in other areas. Presley: I would be more comfortable if everyone were to commit, because I know how often these things don’t come true. Carter: they won’t work unless we bring in the other agencies, if we just do this project by project. Very big dollar projects.
Alfandre: plan is to finish by June 18? Piera Weiss, chief White Flint planner: we come back to you on June 18 with a redline rewrite of the whole plan, and then you come back to us with any changes.
Cryor: Montrose Parkway. Are we going to change that? Busses? Weiss: bus bays at Metro station. Carter: whole loop. Dan Hardy: chief Vision Division, and head transportation planner: in the WF Sector Plan, Parkway is the northern boundary. Will have a signalized intersection on the east. On the western part, stays at grade, and what’s already built is what will be there. Did raise the question back in February about adding more development in White Flint which would have required more from the western area, but that has changed. Cryor: so 270/Fortune Parc area is much in the future? Not walking distance. Whose getting on the bus? I never thought it was going down there. Hardy: we’re not recommending any reconstruction of Montrose Parkway. Was there enough there to add a BRT lane? No, but you could add more bus service. Most of the people going on the Parkway during peak periods are going to No. Bethesda.
Alfandre: aside from the Pike issues you showed earlier, are there other problems in the grid? Carter: we’ll see those as we go through the districts. Alfandre: we need to look carefully at the MARC station area, because one area where we have an opportunity to connect a neighborhood. Heirarchy of open spaces? Carter: we have that. In the guidelines in the aspirations.