Archives June 2014

Update from White Flint Implementation Advisory Committee June Meeting

Here are the updates from the White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee meeting from Monday, June 9th.

Nkosi Underwood mentioned that no new development activities have taken place since the last meeting in May. ProMARK and Foulger-Pratt are in the process of presenting their preliminary site plan to the Planning Board. They hope to present their plan in the near future. JBG Companies and Gables Residential will present their new designed projects at the next Implementation Advisory Committee meeting in July so we will provide an update on those presentations next month.

Francine Waters provided an update from the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee. As Lindsay has mentioned, the Downtown Advisory Committee is in midst of discussing the implications of expanding the scope and area of the White Flint district along the Rockville Pike corridor and the branding of a name of the larger district. They will continue to discuss the implications of these changes for both the district and the Downtown Advisory Committee itself.

Dee Metz, the White Flint Implementation Coordinator, provided an update from the county on White Flint public projects. Since the last Implementation meeting, the CIP budget for FY15-20 was passed. The budget included nine projects for the White Flint district, including the forward funding for the Western Workaround. Also, the Hoya Street extension proposal was added to the budget and $7.5 million was allotted to the project, which is a great success for the White Flint district. In addition, $75,000 was added to the budget of the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee to give the committee a total budget of $95,000.

Furthermore, the county is working on using grant money reserved for traffic calming projects for the Nebel Street area between Randolph Road and Nicholson Lane. The county is working to include elements such as biking facilities, extra stop signs, and bump outs along this street. The county is also focused on finalizing solutions addressing pedestrian issues along Woodglen Drive between Edison Lane and Nicholson Lane.

Dick Knapp and Rob Eisinger then provided the committee with a presentation on the East Village at North Bethesda Gateway. They both emphasized the importance of bringing development to the eastern side of Rockville Pike and the need to create a sense of a social community. For more information on this presentation, check out our post on East Village project from Monday. Mary Ward from Crest of Wickford mentioned her concerns with pedestrian right-of-ways being blocked along Nicholson Lane because of this project. The developers of East Village understand the importance in pedestrian walkways and have dedicated land for the sidewalk in front the buildings for pedestrian right-of-ways.

We know how important it is for community residents to express their concerns with the new developments. If you are a cyclist or pedestrian, it is important and necessary for you to express any and all concerns these new projects pose for your safety and accessibility. Friends of White Flint is happy to take your concerns to the county. Please email us at info@whiteflint.org.

The next meeting will take place on July 14th at 7:00pm at the Federal Realty Investment Trust Headquarters on 1626 East Jefferson Street, Rockville, MD.

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

Naming/Branding Discussion at Downtown Advisory Committee

Yesterday, the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee (DAC) held its monthly meeting at the Bethesda North Conference Center, located at 5701 Marinelli Road, Rockville, directly across the street from the White Flint metro station.  This very juxtaposition (Bethesda, North Bethesda, Rockville, White Flint) is why the subject of our area’s naming was on the agenda.

While we had hoped for a presentation by the White Flint Partnership, an organization of developers within the sector (all of whom are members of FoWF), what we got instead was a letter.  The letter says that the Partnership has “begun to move forward with an effort to identify a unifying brand for a larger area along the Rockville Pike corridor, an area that would extend in both directions beyond the White Flint Sector Plan boundaries.”  This shift, they say, would establish a “forward-thinking identity” which has the “potential for local, regional and national impacts” and would “empower property owners to express their individual identities, working collectively for the greater good while simultaneously preserving the individuality of existing residential communities.”

The letter was distributed at the start of the meeting and seemed to take several committee members off-guard – though the potential expansion of the urban district has been floated anecdotally in the media and on this blog, this was the first many committee members had heard of it.  No details were offered as to the boundaries of this newly-enlarged area but Ken Hartman, our regional services director and to whom the letter was addressed, surmised that the area would stretch north to include new development taking shape in Twinbrook and, perhaps, south to include Strathmore.  As he noted, “this would double – maybe triple – the geography” of our boundaries.  He also rightly noted that there is little distinction along this stretch of Rockville Pike.  If you look at a Google Earth image of the area from White Flint Mall up to Twinbrook metro (see below), it does look like one large commercial center.  Are we well-served by drawing an arbitrary line through the center of it?

Expanded District Map

 

From Google Maps

I would submit that I have not yet seen any downside to an expansion.  One issue that White Flint, with its current boundaries, will always face is regarding revenue generation.  Unlike similar regional undertakings, like Tysons and Rosslyn-Ballston, our area is constrained to the surrounds of one metro stop.  This already limits the sources of revenue which would be used for maintenance, streetscapes and programming (like the community contributions made by Bethesda Urban Partnership).  Other urban districts in Montgomery County are funded in large part by parking fees.  White Flint is not set up this way.  We will have few, if any, county-owned parking and, what we will have, is expected to be poached by the Department of Transportation.  We do have a special taxing district established here but, for the foreseeable future, all funds collected through it will be used on infrastructure projects.  So, expanding the urban district’s borders to include more opportunity for funding is an up-side in my view.

Also, if we’re looking to create a destination that will be marketed nationally – and if we’re building a destination worth visiting – why not make it as bold as possible?  I see no down-side there, either.  As newly-elected committee Chair Cliff Cohen noted, a larger, “more visible, more identifiable” district offers a greater chance of success.  It will attract great tenants and shops and really only has an impact on the big picture of the district.  The small picture remains the same – neighborhoods maintain their identity.

Committee members, however, were generally displeased with the Partnership’s letter and, unfortunately, the Partnership did not send a representative to lend voice to the text.  Resident committee member Paul Meyer, who lives in The Wisconsin, particularly did not like feeling that this discussion was so “developer-driven” and he wanted to ensure that the community, and the committee, had adequate say in the process.  Another resident committee member, Bernie Meyers, was “angry” that he feels “not plugged-in.”  Business member Bob Daley was not pleased that the Partnership had “just sent a definitive letter” without even coming to the meeting for a discussion.  In any event, an expansion of the district would require modification of the DAC’s mission which is presently restricted to the White Flint Sector Plan area.

But, a more positive flip side was offered by business member Andy Shulman.  The name of this district has been stalled for seven years because the developers couldn’t agree.  At least now, progress is being made!

We are told to expect a full presentation by the Partnership at the July DAC meeting and we’re hoping it’s going to address a few of the concerns we have:  

First, an expansion north might broach the borders of Rockville City, adding a burdensome and unnecessary bureaucratic layer to our work.  We hope this is not being contemplated.

Second, Friends of White Flint is all about community engagement and finding consensus for smart solutions in moving White Flint forward.  We are pushing to be part of this process and want to hear thoughts FROM YOU!  Do you think there are advantages or disadvantages to expanding and/or branding the White Flint Sector area?  Or, do you think that these types of decisions won’t have much impact on your day-to-day life?  Sound off here on the blog or email me directly at Lindsay.Hoffman@whiteflint.org.

 

Don’t Forget to Vote!

Friends of White Flint is a successful advocate because of our engaged community of members.  So, don’t forget to turn your engagement to the polls this month! Primary elections for everything from Board of Education to County Council to County Executive to State Delegates/Senators to Governor are on June 24!  Yes – that’s much earlier than in years past so spread the word!

In fact, early voting begins this Thursday at locations throughout Montgomery County.  Or, turn up at your regular voting precinct on Tuesday, June 24th to cast your vote for county and state officials.  If neither of those options is convenient, you can even vote by mail.  Visit Montgomery County’s Board of Elections Website for all of the details by clicking here.

The “Timeless” East Village at North Bethesda Gateway

**Post is updated to correct the retail square footage and the description of the public walkway**

 

ProMARK Real Estate and Foulger-Pratt held a public community meeting on May 27th on their newly designed preliminary site plan for the East Village project of the North Bethesda Gateway. Dick Knapp, senior vice president at Foulger-Pratt, offered the presentation on this project he’s working on with fellow developer, ProMARK Real Estate.

East Village, one site within the larger North Bethesda Gateway area,  will be at the corner of Nicholson Lane and Huff Court, next to the White Flint Mall site. The neighboring Fitzgerald auto property, on the left side of the image below, is still in midst of discussions and no sketch plan has been put forth by a developer yet. The East Village at North Bethesda Gateway property is also set off a bit from the other development sites along Rockville Pike, which will give this development a chance to create a sense of a close community for the future residents as the White Flint district blooms.

Original sketch plan for North Bethesda Gateway. The East Village site is on the right.

Original sketch plan for North Bethesda Gateway. The East Village site is on the right.

Back in January 2013, Foulger-Pratt and ProMARK Real Estate proposed their sketch plan of East Village property, which is the image to the right. A sketch plan is a preliminary sketch of the layout of buildings across the site of development. No architectural details are included in the sketch plan, however. The original sketch plan for East Village included the layout of office, residential and retail spaces on the site. This sketch plan was approved back in the beginning of 2013. The developers decided to amend the original sketch plan by scaling back the high-rise office space and creating a intimate neighborhood feeling with more room for retail and residential space.

Currently, ProMARK Real Estate and Foulger-Pratt are working to submit their updated site plan to the Planning Board. A site plan is comprised of an architectural plan with detailed engineering drawings that are most often displayed at a bird’s eye, top-down view. The site plan also includes the design of each building including the materials used and other aesthetics. To understand the changes that took place between the approved sketch plan and the site plan, a comparison of the two is presented. With the details included in the site plan, the developers provide a better understanding of their plan to create this “timeless” and urban community.

East Village Phase 2 Illustrative only, subject to change ProMARK Foulger-Pratt 2014

East Village Phase 2
Illustrative only, subject to change
ProMARK Foulger-Pratt 2014

At the public meeting, Knapp focused heavily on creating a sense of timelessness and a memorable social community for the region. By cutting out the office space and incorporating more room for residential and retail space, the developers decided to include mid-rise multi-material buildings. East Village will now include 2 phases of buildings with various types of textures, materials, and colors that will give the project a since of asymmetry and a city/urban feel.  The developers hope to create a “collection of buildings,” not two gigantic buildings that are overpowering and intimidating for future residents.

Similar to what was proposed in the sketch plan, East Village will include great spaces for retail on the ground floor. The new site plan proposal includes about **32,000 square foot space for retail. Knapp hopes that East Village can bring in local, neighborhood restaurants and shops such as Raku, Gilly’s, Busboys and Poets, and local yoga studios, places where a social community can be built.

East Village also will provide amazing public and open space for residents. For example, there is a proposed public walk, East Village Lane, which will connect East Village and North Bethesda Gateway to other developments along the Pike. Furthermore, there are proposed courtyards for each of the phases. The public walk will be a pedestrian only space that will have high visibility from various terraced units and elements of urban safety incorporated into it. **The pedestrian connection/walkway will be built in grade to the site so the walkway will remain at a flat surface. At the end point of the walkway, however, there will be a ramp and stairway to reach the street level because the walkway is built in grade to the buildings. In the image of East Village Phase 2, you can see the East Village Lane that will be the public walk way between the 2 phases.

There will be three access points to enter the East Village site: one through East Village Lane, one from Huff Court (which will remain a public street) and one from the proposed private street on the right side of East Village.

East Village Phase 1

East Village Phase 1
Illustrative only, subject to change. ProMARK Foulger-Pratt 2014

The new site plan shows the 2 phases of residential space within East Village, including 400 residential units in Phase 1 and 210 residential units in Phase 2 for a total of 610 residential units. The average unit size will be 750 square foot, which a range between 500-1200 square foot units. In addition, there will be about 70% 1 bedroom units and 30% 2 bedroom units.

The phases will include amenities such as a private theater, a private gym, and private party rooms. These amenities are necessary to attract individuals to live in the building and compete with other developments popping up across the region.  In addition, Phase 1 will include a courtyard/plaza and terrace apartments that overlook the retail space. Phase 2 will also include another courtyard and the pool for the residents.

Parking for the residential buildings will be underground. There will be between 684-687 parking spaces for residents of East Village, which is 92% parking, 22% more parking than the minimum percentage prescribed in the White Flint Sector Plan.

Because East Village is set-off from the main strip of Rockville Pike, attracting residents to “live and play” at East Village will be ProMARK Real Estate and Foulger-Pratt’s biggest issue. Nicholson Lane is a high-traffic area, which they hope will work to their advantage. With the large amount of public space this plan offers, the developers hope to incorporate more local art and night-time activities for residents that will offer great attractions. The plaza off Huff Court will be used for all types of programming that the developers hope will attract Generation Y singles, mature couples of Generation X, and Aged-in Place Baby Boomers.

If you missed the first chance to hear the presentation on East Village at North Bethesda Gateway, please come to the White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee meeting tonight at 7 pm at the Federal Realty Investment Trust Headquarters where we will hear the presentation again. Hope to see you there!

Action Committee for Transit looks at White Flint

Next Tuesday, Action Committee for Transit (ACT) will use part of its June meeting to discuss how we’re working to make White Flint more walkable and transit-oriented.  Come check it out and note that they’ve had a location change!

From ACT:

PLEASE NOTE:  Our Meeting For June Will Be Held At A Different Location.  See end for details and directions.

We invite you to join us at the upcoming meeting of Action Committee for Transit on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 7:30 pm.  Our guest speaker will be Lindsay Hoffman from Friends of White Flint.  She will talk about their efforts for “Making White FlintWalkable and Transit-Oriented.”  Lindsay Hoffman is a White Flint resident and advocate for this major project.  Come here what she has to say.

JUNE MEETING LOCATION:

Montgomery College – Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus
Health Sciences Center Building  –  Room 222  (on 
Georgia Ave near Rt 410)

The GPS address is:
7977 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

>Driving Directions to Montgomery College:  Going south on Georgia Avenue towards DC — turn left onto Jesup Blair Drive (you will see it shortly after the intersection with Rt 410) and then make a left into the West Garage. Park on the 3rd floor and above.

This location is an easy walk from either Silver Spring or Takoma metro stations.

By Bus:  The #70/71/79 buses stop practically right in front of the building on Georgia Ave. There are several RideOn buses that stop within a few blocks of the building – 16, 17, and 18 – in particular, as well as the F4/F6 metro buses.

***  You may need to show an ID and sign-in at the Health Science building. It is just a formality, tell them you are here for the ACT meeting.

The large meeting room is easy to find on the second floor.
Food is not allowed in the room.

Here is a link to the full campus map: http://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/edu/maps.aspx?id=23747.
On the following map it is the “HC” building. The “HC” marks the spot where the main door is and where YOU should enter for access to the meeting.  (The other building entrances are to a health clinic and are locked at night.)

Here is another link that may assist you:
https://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/EDU/Department.aspx?id=3004

Rebranding Proposal at Next White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee Meeting

Next Tuesday, the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee will take up the proposal for the rebranding of the White Flint district. Here is Ken’s update:

The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee will consider a proposal to co-brand the area around the White Flint Metro Station and nearby Twinbrook Metro Station (see map) as one business district. As reported by Bethesda Beat, the newly combined area could enable joint marketing and maintenance of the areas.

The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee was commissioned by the County Executive and County Council to begin planning for the establishment of a nonprofit entity similar to the Bethesda Urban Partnership. The committee is working on several interim projects including weekend maintenance, beautification of Rockville Pike, and a destination website.

The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee will hold a meeting at the North Bethesda Marriott Hotel and Conference Center on Tuesday, June 10th at 8 am at their next meeting. If you would like to attend the meeting, please email the B-CC Regional Services Center as soon as possible. Space will be tight at the meeting.

Pike Central Walking Club

Walkability is an important interest for us here at Friends, especially because of walking’s positive effects on our health and environment. We recently learned about an exciting opportunity for some fun and healthy ways to incorporate walking and exercise around the White Flint area.

The Pike Central Farm Market is hosting the new Pike Central Walking Club. Beginning this Saturday, June 7th, you can join Central Farm Market’s fitness expert Prisna Anderson, a Certified Personal Trainer, Zumba Instructor, and Corporate Health and Wellness Instructor for Kaiser Permanente, for a great walk around the White Flint district area.

The Walking Club will run for one hour, starting with a warm-up at 8:30 am. The first half of the class will include walking exercises that can help you get ready for faster pace circuits. The second half will be as Central Farm Market puts it “Walk and Sculpt,” where you will do 2 circuits that will incorporate body weight exercises with balance and core training. The final stretch will be a cool down and walk back to the market, where you can enjoy the market for some delicious breakfast or early lunch.

The Pike Central Walking Club will be walking on the following Saturdays:

  • June 7
  • June 14
  • June 21
  • June 28
  • July 12
  • July 19
  • July 26
  • August 2
  • August 9
  • August 16
  • August 23

The fee is $10 per walk, which is payable to Prisna at the time of the class. Children ages 12-17 are welcomed to join the club if they are accompanied by a parent/guardian for an additional $5.

If you want to join the club, please email prisnaanderson@gmail.com by the Wednesday before each walk. For more information, check out Central Farm Market.

Are Parks Going Corporate?

Bethesda Now reported last week that the county Parks Department is investigating ways of broadening its revenue stream; one option is corporate sponsorships.  With the simmering excitement over the potential of Wall Park here in White Flint, this is an exciting concept.

This week, the Planning Board will hear the department’s staff recommendation to launch a sponsorship program that is expected to bring about $1M toward our local parks. “You won’t see corporate sponsors take over naming rights for Cabin John Regional or Caroline Freeland Parks, but the department is hoping to find four to six companies interested in naming rights for dog parks, ice rinks, playgrounds and other facilities within county parks,” writes Bethesda Now’s Aaron Kraut.

The concept has been percolating for a while.  It was exactly one year (to the day) earlier that Bethesda Now reported that sponsorships were being considered for Wall Park.  Basing the idea on programs in other jurisdictions, Montgomery Parks’ chief of public affairs and community partnerships Kate Stookey was reported as saying that “the policy should help fund and pilot new programs by allowing for more frequent and widespread marketing of corporate sponsors that pitch in. Don’t expect a corporate sponsor to swoop in and acquire the naming rights to Wall Park.”

Read the 2013 Bethesda Now post on the corporate sponsorship potential of Wall Park by clicking here and read last week’s Bethesda Now post on the general sponsorship program being proposed by Montgomery Parks by clicking here.