Archives March 2017

The Future of Aging Office Buildings

Montgomery Planning Department publishes an interesting blog called The Third Place. In planning, the third place is the social realm separate from home and the workplace, an inclusive forum for dialogue crucial for civic engagement and community building.

One of their recent blogs discussed the future of aging office buildings. The Planning Department listed several factors are influencing such conversions of aging office structures to other uses:

Our downtowns are mostly built up with high density office buildings that are too expensive to tear down and rebuild.

There is pent-up demand for residential development in walkable, urban places throughout the county, particularly in close proximity to transit.

The office market continues to languish as technology disrupts working habits and drastically shrinks the space required per worker.

The article also noted that the most likely candidates for conversions will continue to be in locations that are well served by transit and situated within a walkable framework of blocks and streets. (Places just like the Pike District. Building quirks can transform into interesting architectural features. Innovative repurposing of aging office buildings could also lead to more affordable housing.

The Octave in Silver Spring was once an office building and is now home to 102 condos.

Read more about converting office buildings into residential space by clicking here.

What happened at last week’s White Flint 2 Worksession

The Planning Board discussed financing options for the White Flint 2 area during their March 23rd worksession.  Via their presentation, the planning staff said that there are $181,717,000 worth of White Flint 1 special tax district funded improvements planned.

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The established tax rate is $0.103 per $100 of assessed value in the special White Flint taxing district.  The planning staff said they learned a few lessons from the White Flint 2 tax district, including: 1) the need to exercise caution on the timing of development  2) taking into consideration that revenue stream is based on new development, not existing, and 3) taxing and improvements must be equitable within and outside the district. The planning staff projects there is a need for $45 to $70 million worth of capital improvements in White Flint 2.

The planing staff went over various funding mechanisms that are used in the county.  They recommend that the White Flint 1 special taxing district be extended to include White Flint 2. Another potential funding method in White Flint 2 is the pro rata alternate transportation impact fee which is being used in White Oak.

Ramona Bell-Pearson of the county executive’s office spoke as well. She said the county executive is committed to the development of the White Flint 1 and 2 areas. She also said the county is pulling together White Flint 1 and 2 developers to understand their plans and expectations. The county has forward funded $70 million for capital improvements like the western workaround.

You can view the planning staff presentation by clicking here.

County Executive Announces “Flash” as Winning Name for BRT

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett today announced that “Flash” is the winner in the Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) contest to select a name for the new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System. MCDOT’s two-month contest provided residents the opportunity to choose from three suggested names or propose their own, and “Flash” received the most votes. Anyone who participated in the naming contest was eligible to be randomly selected for a gift card or other small prizes, as well as the grand prize.

“A Bus Rapid Transit system in Montgomery County will provide tremendous benefits by improving job creation and mobility options,” said Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. “The system is critical to our continued prosperity. We hope in the next couple years to make Flash a household name synonymous with a fast, reliable service that helps cut traffic congestion.”

BRT will provide a new, innovative transit option in Montgomery County that will feature frequent service making fewer stops than traditional bus systems; enhanced vehicles equipped with WiFi and USB ports; and comfortable stations with weather protection, pre-payment kiosks and real-time transit information. Along the BRT routes, community-friendly design elements will include improved pedestrian walkways, bike facilities and bikeshare stations.

The first BRT line is expected to open in 2020 along the US 29 corridor from Burtonsville to downtown Silver Spring. Estimates forecast it will carry approximately 13,000 riders on its opening day. Montgomery County is also studying BRT lines along MD 355, MD 586 (Veirs Mill Road), as well as the Corridor Cities Transitway.

For more information, visit http://getonboardbrt.com/

Breaking White Flint Mall News

As reported on Washington Business Journal

The owners of the former White Flint Mall  have decided to pay the $31 million verdict a jury awarded to retailer Lord & Taylor rather than to appeal to a higher court, nearly a month after their last appeal was rejected, White Flint attorney Scott Morrison said.

The decision ends a protracted legal battle over the the site’s planned redevelopment that goes back nearly four years.

White Flint 2 Worksession Tomorrow, March 23

At tomorrow’s White Flint 2 Worksession, planning staff will discuss financing possibilities that could support the infrastructure needs for the White Flint 2 Sector Plan area. The White Flint 1 Special Taxing District will also be discussed. Executive Branch representatives will attend this worksession to discuss their perspective regarding financing alternatives for the Plan area.

The worksession is scheduled for the afternoon, and you can read the staff planning documents here.

What you missed at last night’s Implementation Committee meeting

Last night, the White Flint Implementation Committee met, and if you weren’t able to attend, here’s what was discussed.

Pre-Release Center. On Nebel Street is the Pre-Release Center which provides evidence-based transitional services to 143 soon-to-be released sentenced and incarcerated adults from the county’s two detention centers, and from state and federal prisons who are returning to Montgomery County and the larger Washington metropolitan area.  It was built in the 1970s, and they are proposing a 3,000 square foot addition in the back of building, an extension of the parking lot, and two trailers for classes.  They will be updating the inadequate kitchen and including storm water management under the parking lot.  This project is state funded, and construction will begin in July or August 2017. Mandatory referral will be filed with Park and Planning shortly.

Mandatory Referral. Nkosi Yearwood helpfully defined mandatory referral. All public agencies must submit to the board for review and recommendation if they’re selling land or making changes on their property. The planning board’s suggestions are advisory only and not binding, although forest conservation plans are binding.

Development Update. The Gables amendment which was presented to the Implementation Committee last year was approved by the planning board. There are no other new applications.

Downtown Advisory Committee Update. They are working on recommendations to submit to the council and executive regarding the feasibility of forming a Business Improvement District or BID in the Pike District. They are also planning for the second annual Fall Fest.

Dee Metz Updates. The first phases of construction on the Western Workaround and the conference center garage are on target. They had to did out huge underground vaults, and they’ve done lots of storm water management.  Pictures of the construction can be found on Twitter under the #whiteflintwest hashtag. They’ve almost finished plans for phase 2 of the Western Workaround which includes the reconfigured intersection of Hoya/Old Georgetown/Executive. The phase 2 plans then go to SHA for approval, and construction on phase 2 should begin in late 2017.  MCDOT is also working on creating separated bike lanes on Marinelli between Nebel and Executive. The Wall Park/Gables Garage and the new Wall Park supplemental request for funding will probably be heard in May.

Next Implementation Committee Meeting.  The next meeting will be on April 17th (the third Monday of the month, not the second) and will focus on the Pepco Substation.

 

 

 

Implementation Committee Meeting Monday, March 20th

The snowed-out March meeting for the White Flint Implementation Committee will take place on Monday, March 20, 7 p.m., at Wall Local Park/Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center. Here is the agenda:

Introductions

Presentation: Pre-Release Center

Updates

White Flint Development Activity

Other North Bethesda Plans

Biennial Monitoring Report

New members

White Flint Downtown Committee (Brian Downie/Francine Waters)

White Flint Implementation Coordinator Report (Dee Metz)

White Flint 2 Sector Plan

Other topics

 

 

The White Flint Sector Plan Implentation Committee

The White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Committee consists of property owners, residents and interest groups that are stakeholders in the redevelopment of the Sector Plan area, as well as representatives from the Executive Branch, to evaluate the assumptions made regarding congestion levels, transit use, and parking. The committee’s responsibilities should include monitoring the Plan recommendations, identifying new projects for the Amenity Fund, monitoring the CIP and Growth Policy [Subdivision Staging], and recommending action by the Planning Board and County Council to address issues that may arise.