Archives April 2017

Learn about the state of the Montgomery County real estate market with Bisnow

Click here or the image above

for more information about this wonderful event, including speakers and topics.

 

Bisnow is pleased to invite you to the 2017 Montgomery County State of the Market featuring Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson. This year they’ll bring together the best and brightest from the local commercial real estate market and the broader economy to assess the state of the Montgomery County’s real estate market, business climate, key trends, hot sub-markets, and issues ahead.

Sign up today to take part in what promises to be a fun, exciting, and influential morning. Gain invaluable information and enjoy networking with your friends and colleagues in the industry. Don’t miss out on the go-to event for the MoCo business and real estate communities!

Friends of White Flint is excited to have a table at this event so we can educate the hundreds of people who will attend all about our important work.

 

6116 Executive Blvd sold for $9.5 million

As published in Washington Business Journal,

by Apr 24, 2017

A D.C- based commercial real estate firm has paid just $9.5 million for a vacant Rockville office building, a fraction of the $81.4 million the property traded for in 2005 when the eight-story office building was occupied by the National Institutes of Health.

Goodstone LLC closed on Friday on its acquisition of 6116 Executive Blvd. for just shy of $44 per square foot, a price so diminutive that it’s been the subject of rumors in the commercial real estate industry for weeks. Goodstone bought the 217,723-square-foot building from special servicer LNR after its prior owner, an affiliate of Capital Property Associates, foreclosed on the eight-story office building in late 2014. After more than two years with LNR, Goodstone cast the winning bid when the special servicer put the property up for auction through Ten-X last month.

By contrast, the average sale price per square foot for suburban Maryland and Greater Washington for the first quarter of 2017 was $73.47 and $363 respectively, according to real estate services firm JLL. The building at 6116 Executive Blvd. itself had traded for nearly $374 per square foot in 2015.

The $9.5 million sale price, a low point for commercial real estate deals in suburban Maryland, highlights two big trends landlords across the D.C. region have been grappling with for some time: an extremely sluggish demand for office space, and the expiration of billions of dollars in debt taken out before the recession to secure those properties. The building was secured by a commercial-backed mortgage security, or CMBS, issued in 2005 through Wachovia Bank. Fitch Ratings identified 6116 Executive Blvd. as a major financial risk in January 2015 after the NIH moved out.

Goodstone President Stephen Durr said he is bullish on the building’s prospects despite those challenges. Parts of Montgomery County have been hit hard by a contraction in the federal government, particularly by agencies like NIH, but Durr said 6116 Executive Blvd. has several things going for it that should help it lease up more quickly than others. Among them is the building’s location, less than a mile from the White Flint Metro station and amenities like the shops and restaurants at Pike & Rose.

“This is a property that can be, and was in the past, ideally situated for employers today,” Durr said. “This has the great location, this has the urban amenities, and it’s just a matter of restoring it to its best-in-class location that it was.”

Goodstone plans to spend about $10 million on renovations, with amenities to include fitness and conference centers, a cafe and terrace with outdoor seating. It is in the process of selecting an architect for the work and hopes to wrap up renovations a year from now.

The Farm Market is Back at Pike & Rose May 6!

EXCITING NEWS! The Pike District Central Farm Market is moving back to their original home at Pike and Rose.

WHERE….Parking lot of the new flagship REI Building
WHEN….Opens May 6th
TIMES….Every Saturday 9:00 am to 1:30 pm
WHAT….Over 40 farmers and artisan food producers, live music, stuff for kids, chef demos, seating, food to consume on premises and/or take home, dog friendly, free two-hour covered parking, concierge bag service, and more!
WHO….Your hosts, Mitch and Debbie

Visit WWW.CENTRALFARMMARKETS.COM to find out more and sign up for their weekly e-blast.

White Flint 2 Work Session Thursday, April 27

The Planning Board is holding the sixth White Flint 2 work session Thursday, April 27th in the afternoon. This session will focus on Transportation and Staging,

Here is the summary from the staff report for this work session:

Staff will present updated results of the transportation analysis performed in support of the White Flint 2 Sector Plan Public Hearing Draft Plan according to the procedures in the recently adopted 2016-2020 Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP) for Local Area Transportation Review (LATR). The analysis illustrates the transportation impacts of the level of development recommended in the Public Hearing Draft of the Plan on the proposed roadway network, and provides the foundation for the mobility recommendations in the Plan.

On January 26, 2017, staff presented the results of initial transportation analysis to the Planning Board based on the Critical Lane Volume (CLV) method and related CLV intersection congestion standards. The Staff has updated the transportation analysis using the Highway Capacity Manual (HCM) method, which measures intersection congestion standards based on average intersection delay.

Staff recommends that the staging plan in the Public Hearing Draft be modified by moving the shuttle/circulator from the second phase to the first phase to promote mobility options earlier in the Plan’s implementation. Also, the recommended Non-Automotive Driver Mode Share (NADMS) is divided into categories for residents and employees. Key transportation recommendations and policies associated with the adjacent 2010 White Flint Sector Plan are also summarized in this report.

Cool new metro car kiosks coming to Grosvenor metro

As reported in The Washington Post

In sculptor’s hands, Metro’s old rail cars become kiosks

  April 20 at 5:32 PM


Tom Maher, 40, center, of Long Island, N.Y., and other Rustic Rebels employees work on a project to transform the vehicle and its parts for new use as outdoor kiosks, outdoor benches, industrial art and other useful objects. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

There are probably a lot of Metro lovers who would happily pay admission to watch a sculptor chop up a subway car.

Metro haters would probably pay even more.

The work is violent, noisy, smelly and at times even beautiful — as when Robert “Mojo” Mojeski climbs onto the rail car with a welding device and zaps the steel carcass in a blue-and-white shower of sparks.

The work goes fast, too. Mojo, as he prefers to be called, needs to transform a 40-ton rail car into retail kiosks that will be installed at Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station next month. He has until the grand opening May 17 to finish the job he started five days ago at a warehouse in Brookeville.

In that time, the Metro car’s distinctive, push me-pull you seats and their 1970s orange upholstery will go, to be cut free and transformed into park benches. Metro’s system map, with its classic graphic design of multicolored spaghetti, will stay to brighten the kiosk’s interior. When Mojo and his team are finished, the kiosks will be placed on the pedestrian plaza that is now mostly a concrete wasteland populated by newspaper boxes.

“It’s about, ‘How do you enliven this dead space?’ ” said Ron Kaplan, a co-founder of the real estate firm behind the project.

Mojo’s functional artwork came about as part of a proposed housing development envisioned for the Grosvenor-Strathmore station. Fivesquares Development, which built Symphony Park close to the station and Montgomery County’s Strathmore Center performance hall, is in the early planning for a mixed-use development atop the station called Strathmore Square.

Kaplan and co-founder Andrew Altman have experience working on projects such as London’s Olympic Park, Bethesda Row, the Anacostia riverfront and Whitman-Walker Health’s Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center on 14th Street NW in the District.

 

The kiosks are part of a broader experiment by Metro to allow pop-up retail stands that could bring in money without, the agency hopes, littering its trains with food. The kiosks at Grosvenor, for example, will sell prepared food but only on a few days of the week and only during the afternoon and evening rush hour.

Kaplan said the idea is that people will be able to pick up a loaf of bread or other small items on the way home.

Kaplan said he liked the idea of reusing one of the Series 4000 rail cars that Metro has been scrapping since February after a quarter-century of hard use. The cars — which were built by the Italian company Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie Sp.A. — went into service in 1991 at a cost to Metro of about $1.3 million each. By the end of their run, each had logged about 1.5 million miles.

In recent years, however, their unreliability became the bane of Washington commuters. Many were happy to see them go; Kaplan’s firm is betting many will be happy to see them return — as shops.

That’s where Mojo, 45, a former commercial fisherman from Sag Harbor, N.Y., comes in. His métier is kinetic sculpture — flying blue oil drums, rolling bowling balls and the like — that he fashioned in the spirit of Alexander Calder and Rube Goldberg, according to an interview he gave to a Hamptons newspaper.

An industrial hacksaw was pressed into use to cut up the rail car into seven segments. From there, Mojo had to figure out a way to cover the sharp, exposed edges. He and his Rusted Rebels crew then began welding, grinding pieces back together.

The thing that surprised him the most, he said, was how sturdy the Italian railcar’s construction was. The narrow partition where two windows met appeared to be made of extra thick metal and reinforced several times over with layers to make up for the relative structural weakness of the window glass.

Mojo was also surprised at how much of the railcar’s workings were jammed into its undercarriage. Electronic circuitry. Cables. Metal couplings. as super tightly packed under there,” Mojo said. “You had very minimum room. So you had to kind of work your way into the next piece to the next piece to the next piece.”

It took two days to hack away all the unneeded pieces in the undercarriage. Other surprises were not as fun, Mojo said. He was removing a metal footstep that looked a lot lighter than it was when the thing landed on his hand.

“You remember the little one single [expletive] footstep?” Mojo asks. “I cut the [expletive] thing off and it was made of steel, not aluminum, so it was heavy. It hit the ground and just nailed me,” Mojo said. “Of all the things.”

It broke his finger.

What you missed at Monday night’s Implementation Committee Meeting

Nkosi Yearwood

There will soon be an application to allow Saul Centers East to have an animal boarding facility.

The next White Flint 2 worksession is Thursday, April 27th in the afternoon.

Francine Waters, White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee

BID (Business Improvement District) enabling legislation was passed by the state legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. The legislation calls for 51% of property owners instead of 80% to vote yes to form a BID. The WFDAC will provide a report to the county by October outlining possible BID scenarios.  The council will eventually take up this issue.

Dee Metz, County Executive Office

Ride On extRA will begin in October along Route 355.  There will be two stops in the Pike District — at Marinelli Drive and at Security Lane

Construction is on schedule for Market Street, Executive Blvd., and the conference center garage, and the plan is to be finished with construction at the end of 2017.

Friends of White Flint and Coalition for Smarter Growth had a productive meeting with MCDOT staff to discuss pedestrian safety improvements in the Pike District.

Pepco Substation

Pepco personnel discussed the new substation they will be building at the corner of Marinelli and Nebel Street, 11650 Nebel Street. (The land used to be a sports club/gym and was sold to Pepco.) The purpose of the substation is to ensure sufficient electrical capacity; the Parklawn substation runs out of capacity in 2020. The building will blend in to the surroundings and be pleasing to the eye. There will be a mandatory referral in late 2017/early 2018 for the substation.  The conceptual design will be done in 2017 with the detailed design completed in the summer of 2018 followed by breaking ground. The substation will be in-service in 2019.

 

 

We’re the 77th best place to live nationwide! (Not that it’s a surprise to those of us who live, work, and play in the Pike District)

From Bethesda Beat

North Potomac and North Bethesda Rank Among Best Places To Live in Maryland

Potomac, Bethesda and Kensington also place in the top 10 on Niche list

 

A new online ranking names North Potomac as the best place to live in Maryland, while North Bethesda came in third.

Seven Montgomery County communities were among the top 10 in the state, according to the report, released by Niche, a website that classifies regions nationally. Potomac placed fourth, Darnestown sixth, Bethesda seventh, Kensington ninth and Travilah, a North Potomac neighborhood, was 10th.

The two other locales in the top five were Howard County’s Columbia and Ellicott City.

Other county communities also made it onto the list: Rockville ranked No. 11, Somerset was No. 12, South Kensington came in at No. 13 and the Town of Chevy Chase was No. 14.

To compile the rankings, Niche looks at education rates, crime, public school ratings, cost of living, job opportunities, diversity, local amenities and other factors, according to its website. It pulls data from the census, government organizations and reviews from residents.

On its national list, North Potomac ranks 43rd and North Bethesda ranks 77th among more than 15,000 cities, towns and neighborhoods.

Here’s our report card:

 

 

1) More on a Pike District Bid 2) Implementation Committee Meeting Tonight

Bethesda Beat wrote a terrific story (even with the misspelling of the FOWF’s executive director’s name) about the enabling legislation passed by the state to allow BIDS to be formed, including in the Pike District.

Forming White Flint Urban District Could Get Boost from New State Legislation

A BID could act as “cheerleader” for Pike District, local advocate says

White Flint advocate Amy Ginsberg daydreams about holding 5K races and happy hours in the area’s Pike District. Hosting local dog fairs and events for children. Beautifying the roadside with flower plantings.

But for many years, she said, efforts to realize these visions have been stymied by burdensome state rules for establishing business improvement districts (BIDs), organizations focused on marketing and energizing specific areas. Now, she and others are celebrating the passage of state legislation that could make it easier to form these districts in Montgomery County.

“I think this moves the ball down the field considerably,” said Ginsberg, executive director of Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit focused on supporting the area’s evolution. “We will hopefully have the Pike District BID, and it will be able to do really creative, innovative things that will attract businesses, families and visitors.”

The Pike District, which stretches along a 2.5-mile section of Rockville Pike, is undergoing a transformation into an urbanized, walkable community and was named a couple years ago to distinguish it from the rest of White Flint. The district is home to the Pike & Rose development, a burgeoning area where restaurants, offices, homes and stores exist side-by-side.

Traditionally, businesses and property owners band together to create a BID, with the common goal of attracting more shoppers and clients to an area. By levying an annual charge on commercial property, a BID can pay for programs to pick up litter, care for parks, plan events and improve walkability. The model has helped bring vitality to areas in Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia, said Sen. Will Smith (D-Silver Spring) a lead proponent of the recent BID bill.

State lawmakers in 2010 passed enabling legislation allowing counties and municipalities to approve BIDs, but it set up such strict parameters that none of the organizations has gotten off the ground in Montgomery County, Smith said. To form a BID, the law required support from at least 80 percent of the nonresidential property owners inside the proposed district boundary, a level of consensus that Ginsberg and Smith said is almost impossible to achieve.

“We know the benefit of BIDs, but essentially, that 80-percent threshold has held up the process,” Smith said.

The bill passed this session would only require 51-percent support and, in certain circumstances, would allow condo groups to join commercial property owners in pushing for a BID. County or municipal leaders would then hold a public hearing on the matter before deciding whether to authorize the district.

Tom Murphy, chairman of the White Flint Downtown Advisory Council, said Smith’s bill brightens the outlook for supporters of a Pike District BID.

“I think the chances that it’s going to happen are very, very good,” he said.

The advisory council is already working to craft a BID proposal for presentation to the County Council this fall, Murphy said.

Once formed, the BIDs would be governed by a board of directors appointed by property owners inside the district and could start charging fees to finance projects and receive funding from the state or local government, according to legislative analysts. For instance, Murphy said a Pike District BID might levy a small assessment based on square footage.

The bill, which applied only to Montgomery County, sailed through the legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature. If the measure takes effect Oct. 1, it could enable BIDs in areas like the Pike District and Wheaton, Smith said. Ginsberg said she’s also heard Silver Spring property owners are interested.

Even with a change in state law, creating a BID wouldn’t be a quick process, but many communities could see “huge benefits” from pursing it, Smith said.

Ginsberg agreed.

“Over the next 20 years, the [Pike District] is going to be the centerpiece of Montgomery County, where people will live, work and play. In order to make that happen, you need a guiding hand and an enthusiastic cheerleader, and that would be the BID,” Ginsberg said.

 

There will be a White Flint Implementation Meeting committee tonight at 7pm at the Shriver Aquatic Center.

Maryland Passes Bill to Make it Easier to Form a BID

The state legislature just passed a bill making it easier to form Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in Montgomery County. The bill lowers from 80% to 51% the number of property owners’ signatures needed to create a BID.

The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee and the Greater Bethesda Chamber actively worked to pass the BID bill so that the Pike District can one day form a BID to promote and activate the White Flint area.  Friends of White Flint also supported the BID bill and supports the formation of a Pike District BID.  A BID will keep the Pike District/White Flint area clean and safe, promote local businesses, offer fun-filled activities, create a sense of place, and entice people to live and visit the White Flint area.

You can read more at Washington Business Journal and Bisnow.

Lessons from Bethesda and Wisconsin Avenue

Bethesda Magazine published a terrific story about how design and geography affect walkability. The article is titled, “Lessons Learned from Wisconsin Avenue, A tour of downtown Bethesda’s main street is eye-opening.”

There are lessons for the Pike District, too, as we share many pluses (transit, retail, new development) and minuses (traffic, Route 355, design that favors cars) with Bethesda.

Two particularly interesting quotes from the article offer insight and education to those working to create a walkable, vibrant White Flint area:

“Retail customers, it turns out, favor streets with some traffic, but not too much. “Research about successful retail in urban environments says that the perfect number of average daily car trips on a street is somewhere between 6,000 and 16,000,” Arnold says. “You have to have at least 6,000 to attract enough customers for businesses to be viable,” she says. “When you start to get over 16,000, then you become more vehicle-oriented.”  

“To reach the (Chevy Chase Trust building) garden from the sidewalk, you must walk up a few stairs. Changing levels seems like a barrier and it doesn’t feel right to cross it unless we have legitimate business in the building. “This is almost like the front porch for this office building,” Arnold says. “While you might walk past and admire it, you wouldn’t necessarily go up on it unless you were invited.”

I hope you’ll take five minutes to read this interesting and useful story in Bethesda Magazine.