Archives December 2012

New Urbanism for Your Coffee Table

The underpinnings of New Urbanism – walkability, sustainability, diversity – are the bases for the changes at White Flint.  Now, they’re also the subject of a lovely, new 608-page hardcover book that documents how concepts of New Urbanism were applied in Florida in the 1980’s.  In full coffee table-book form, the work is richly illustrated so you can add visuals the next time you explain the excitement around White Flint.

See more at this article from Wired:

http://www.wired.com/design/2012/12/new-urbanism/

 

ProMark Sketch Plan Amendment Meeting – Thursday January 10, 2013

ProMark Real Estate Services, Inc., will be hosting a Pre-Submittal Meeting on their Sketch Plan Amendment next Thursday, January 10, 2013, at 7pm.  The meeting will be held at 5516 Nicholson Lane and they’re asking attendees to RSVP to Kerry Mounts at 301-961-5157 by January 9th.

This meeting will focus on ProMark’s property, coined the North Bethesda Gateway; you can learn more about the project on the County’s Parks and Planning Website.  Although the original sketch plan included the Fitzgerald Auto property along Rockville Pike and another, smaller parcel along Nicholson Lane, this amendment will just cover ProMark’s land at Nicholson Lane and Huff Court.

north_bethesda_gateway_1_635

 

If you can’t make the meeting, don’t worry!  Friends of White Flint will be there and we’ll post a recap so you can stay in the loop on all things White Flint!

Get Out Of the Car! Here’s How We Can Do It…

Jeff Speck is a local city planner and architectural designer whose latest book, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, is receiving excellent reviews.  In it, Speck focuses on creating areas that people drive to, rather than drive through.  He also delves into the various benefits of creating walkable communities and how to make suburban development more sustainable.

Praise abounds for the book itself but, if you’re looking for a quicker breakdown of 10 Techniques to Making Cities More Walkable, follow the below link to a piece from The Atlantic Cities:

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/design/2012/12/10-techniques-making-cities-more-walkable/4047/#

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.

Zappos Founder Tackles New Urbanism

Tony Hsieh, founder and CEO of online retailer Zappos.com, is using the strength of his company’s personnel and bankroll to reinvigorate downtown Las Vegas.  Hsieh has announced that he is moving the company’s headquarters, and over 1,000 employees, from a suburban office park into what he has termed “the Downtown Project.” Likening the move toward a more dense, mixed-use and walkable community as one improving upon the real-life “social network,” Hsieh hopes to catapult a nearly-discarded neighborhood into the next New Urban destination.

Read more at Reason.com by following the below link:

http://reason.com/archives/2012/12/13/urban-renewal-corporate-style

 

Ticket to Ride: Where Feet, Bikes and Transit Beat Cars in MoCo Neighborhoods

Crossing Georgia at Colesville

Nearly 60% of downtown Silver Spring residents get to work without a car. Photo by the author.

For decades, Montgomery County has promoted transit-oriented development as a way to provide alternatives to driving, but some say it hasn’t worked, claiming most people “will drive no matter what.” However, a detailed look at commuting habits in specific neighborhoods clearly shows that people will leave their cars at home if there are other options.

I looked at data from the Census Bureau’s 2006-2010 American Community Survey to see how Montgomery County’s 502,000 employed residents get to work. Countywide, two-thirds of commuters drive to work alone. 15% take public transit, 11% carpool, and 5% work at home. Just 2 percent walk or bike to work. While those numbers may seem impressive for a suburban area, they may seem underwhelming for anyone who envisions a more urban future for the county.

However, if you break it down by neighborhood, commuting habits vary dramatically. In places with reliable, frequent transit service, or jobs within close proximity, or which were designed to encourage walking, biking and transit use over driving, commuters take advantage of the options they’re given. Not only does this data suggest that the county’s policies have been successful, but it provides some guidance for how to encourage more walking, biking and transit use in the future. (For a closer look at the data, you can see my spreadsheet and consult this map of the county’s census tracts.)

Taking transit to work

Here’s a map of the county broken down by census tract, showing the areas where transit use is above the countywide average of 15 percent:

Census tracts with the highest percentage of transit commutes. Click here to see this image without the ranking labels.

Not surprisingly, people use transit more in areas where there’s lots of transit, like around each of the county’s 13 Metro stations. (I’m counting Takoma and Friendship Heights, which are both in the District, since they’re within walking distance of Montgomery County.)

Over 40% of commuters take transit to work in Friendship, downtown Bethesda, downtown Silver Spring and South Silver Spring, where for decades the county has sought to concentrate jobs, housing and other amenities. Census Tract 7012.14, a concentration of apartments and condominiums just east of the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station in North Bethesda, wasn’t far behind.

Commuters will choose the bus as well if the service is good. Transit use was high along corridors with frequent bus routes that run all day, seven days a week, like Veirs Mill Road, University Boulevard, Georgia Avenue, New Hampshire Avenue and Columbia Pike. Metrobus lines serving these roads, like the C, K, Q, Y and Z, are among the most-used routes in Maryland.

In tract 7023.01, which covers part of the Long Branch neighborhood of Silver Spring, there’s no Metro station, but there are over a dozen Ride On and Metrobus routes. As a result, nearly 36% of commuters there use transit.

While the areas with above-average transit ridership were almost entirely in the Downcounty and East County, there were also a few Upcounty neighborhoods, like around the Germantown and Lakeforest transit centers, both of which are major Ride On hubs. This is impressive considering that these areas were built after World War II, when it was assumed that everyone would drive everywhere.

Walking and biking to work

Here’s a map showing census tracts where the percentage of walkers and bicyclists is above the countywide average of 2.49 percent:

Census tracts with the highest percentage of foot/bike commutes. Click here to see this image without the ranking labels.

This map bears some similarities to a “bicycling heat map” created by Montgomery County planners last year to determine what areas of the county would have the highest demand for bicycling infrastructure. As it predicted, walking and biking rates are higher in the county’s downtowns, like Silver Spring, Bethesda and Rockville, where homes and jobs are within walking distance of one another.

However, there also appeared to be a connection between above-average walking and biking and proximity to a major educational, research or medical institution. There’s a high instance of walkers and bikers around the National Institutes of Health and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. About a quarter of commuters walk or bike to work in tracts 7050, which includes both facilities, and 7048.06 next door in downtown Bethesda. Meanwhile, almost 19% of commuters walk or bike to work in tract 7017.02 in Takoma Park, which includes Washington Adventist Hospital and Washington Adventist University.

And one out of ten commuters walk or bike in the recently-built Fallsgrove neighborhood of Rockville. Located miles from a Metro station and lacking good bus service, Fallsgrove has lower-than-average transit use.

However, it has interconnected streets and a mix of homes, shops and offices, making it easy to get around on foot or bike. It’s also across the street from the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center, home to major employers like Johns Hopkins University and Shady Grove Adventist Hospital.

There were also above-average instances of walking and biking in rural communities, like Burtonsville, Potomac and Damascus. I’m not sure why this happens, but it bears further investigation.

Conclusions

The data suggests ways we can increase walking, biking and transit use in places like White Flint.

While this wasn’t an exhaustive look at commuting habits, one pattern is clear: people will choose not to drive when real alternatives are available. If you provide fast, frequent transit service that’s as convenient if not more so than driving, commuters will use it. And if people live close enough to their jobs, they’ll consider walking or biking to work.

The best way to encourage these behaviors is by building up around our transit network. More people living in places like Bethesda, Silver Spring or White Flint means more people who can reach their jobs by foot, bike or transit.

But that’s not all. We need to create a pleasant walking experience in these areas, which can encourage people to walk farther. We need to provide adequate bicycling infrastructure to attract a wider range of bicyclists.

And we should acknowledge that even people who live in transit-rich areas like downtown Silver Spring and take transit to work might still drive three blocks to the grocery store. There will be cars in Montgomery County for a long time to come, even if they have to share space with pedestrians, bicyclists and transit.

Minutes of the FoWF Board of Directors’ Meeting, November 8, 2012

*** These minutes were approved by unanimous vote at the Board of Directors meeting on February 21, 2013 ***

MINUTES

BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING

November 8, 2012

Federal Realty, 1626 E. Jefferson,Rockville,MD

 

The Friends of White Flint (FoWF) meeting was called to order at 7:11pm at the offices of Federal Realty Investment Trust, pursuant to notice and a proposed agenda.  Present were Directors David Freishtat , Evan Goldman, and Barnaby Zall.  There was no quorum established.  Also present were Paul Meyer, Dee Metz, Peggy Schwartz, Francine Waters, Dan Hoffman, Lindsay Hoffman, Dan Reed and Corey Flynn.   Directors not present were Mike Springer, Greg Trimmer, Todd Lewers, Mike Smith, Ken Hurdle and Suzanne Hudson.

 

Announcement of Resource Changes and New Team Members:  Dan Hoffman announced that, due to his new position as Chief Innovation Officer for Montgomery County, he can no longer act as a paid resource for FoWF, and therefore is resigning as Project Manager.  The following new team members were introduced and proposed to assume Dan’s responsibilities:

¬ Dan Reed whose duties will include providing articles of relevant subject matter to the FoWF website.

¬ Lindsay Hoffman who will be taking over the position of Project Manager for FoWF.  Duties will include, but are not limited to, making sure membership invoices are going out, handling current event posts, making sure content of website is spread out and that finances are in order.

¬ Corey Flynn who will be handling the administrative duties for FoWF.  Duties will include checking the P.O. Box, hotline outreach activities, taking meeting minutes (as needed), and other various administrative tasks.

Dave Freishtat moved to approve the modification to the contract with Forward Progress; Evan Goldman seconded.  Because no quorum was present, it was agreed by consensus that a vote would be conducted via email regarding this matter. Barnaby Zall moved to table the motion pending an email vote.

 

Overview of New Website and Outreach Tools: 

¬ In the last couple months, work moved forward in setting up the new website which is cleaner, simpler, and more user friendly than the old website.  The test server (flog.browsermedia.org) was shown at the meeting.  Once the website is launched, the new domain will be www.whiteflint.org.

¬ FoWF blog will no longer be called FLOG, however historical content will be migrated onto the new site.  Specifically, Barnaby Zall inquired about older posts regarding new urbanization and traffic calming. Dan Hoffman suggested the important articles and post from the old FLOG be sorted through and the content tagged.  Not everything will transfer to the new website as the goal of the new website is look to the future and start fresh.

¬  Advantages and upgrades of new website were discussed. New posts will be tagged to make it easier for users to find content and the Archive page will link to the White Flint 1 & 2 Plan.  Membership renewal will be available online and we will have PayPal availability.  We will also be able to invoice organizations that require particular records.  The website will work on most new phones and will be integrated with our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

¬  Evan Goldman inquired about links to developers’ and other websites.  Dan Hoffman replied that there will be no direct links to other websites because of the level of effort required to maintain accurate links.  The developers can provide information and Dan Reed will simplify and post it. Blog posts referring to particular developers and their projects will also be tagged accordingly.

¬  MailChimp will be used for member management and email.  It has the functionality to track membership status and will also include non-members who are just interested in information regarding the redevelopment.

¬  There was a question about who currently maintains the FoWF Facebook page. A new Facebook page may need to be created because no one presently actively involved in the organization has access to the existing one.

 

White Flint (WF) Updates:

¬  Urban Services Group:  Ken Hurdle will provide an update at the next meeting.

¬  Branding Consultant Update: Francine Waters reported that there was no update at this time.

¬  White Flint Mall Sketch Plan Update:  Francine Waters reported that the sketch plan for the White Flint Mall property was approved and the community reaction to the plan was supportive.  This led to a longer discussion on the types of restaurants expected to open in White Flint.   Evan Goldman reported that Federal Realty expects a mix of different restaurants. The bigger spaces will tend to be occupied by local flavor while the smaller spaces will tend to be more chain restaurants.

¬  Community Events: Evan Goldman recommended an annual/biannual event to engage the community.  Also discussed was a potential event to recognize officials who have supported White Flint.

 

Organization Discussion:

¬  Dan Hoffman recommended a move toward quarterly board meetings with the hopes that this might increase the board’s engagement with the organization.

¬  Next meeting will be held in the first quarter of 2013.

 

CR Zones:                             

¬  Discussion regarding how the Planning Board is interpreting CR Zones and how they are being implemented.  Specifically, the discussion focused on the recent Planning Board hearing on the Lerner site and the disagreements that ensued during that encounter. A follow-up meeting regarding CR Zones was recommended.

 

Barnaby Zall moved to adjourn at 8:37 PM.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Corey Flynn

Administrative Assistant

Secretary pro tem

Friends of White Flint

 

November 8, 2012

 

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).

101112_FRIT_PR_AERIAL_FINAL

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.