The Montgomery County Council in coming weeks will take up a draft plan for the transformation of vacant land surrounding the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station in North Bethesda.
The proposal prepared by the Montgomery County Planning Board would permit an estimated 1,397 new housing units on the 15-acre property owned by the Metro system.
It would also allow a developer to build three high-rises as “signature buildings” to give the site a distinctive architecture. Two of the buildings near the Metro station could stand up to 300 feet tall, while a third on Tuckerman Lane would have a 220-foot height limit, according to the draft.
Planning board members Thursday agreed to send the county council their version of the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan, a document that has been in the works for the past year.
“Well done,” Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson told planning staff before the vote.
While the plan covers 117 acres encompassing the Music Center at Strathmore, most debate has focused on the Metro-owned property slated for development in coming years. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is forging a deal to sell the land to Fivesquares Development, a D.C.-based company. The final asking price will depend on how much housing Fivesquares is allowed to fit on the property.
Before finalizing the plan draft, board members decided to make several final changes. For one thing, they stipulated that the developer must commission a traffic study before building the third tower near the Metro station. They also suggested that the exact size and shape of an open space in the development should be finalized later on in the project review.
Planning Director Gwen Wright said officials aren’t backing off their initial requirement that Fivesquares provide 1.25 acres of open space.
“But what we don’t want to do is put ourselves in that bind, where if it turns out to be 1.24, someone is going to jump up and say, ‘Well, that’s not in the master plan,’” she said.
The council could begin discussing the board’s draft master plan in September, according to a county planner.
We assume millennials prefer walkability and urban living for all the right reasons: social cohesion and community, better access to entertainment, services, and jobs. So why do we assume that older Americans and senior citizens, who also value connectivity, community, and healthy living, wouldn’t prefer the same living arrangement?
According to a new study by A Place for Mom, a nationwide referral service, the Senior Living Preferences Survey, older Americans value walkable urban centers. The survey asked 1,000 respondents nationwide about their living preferences, and a majority said it was very important or somewhat important to live in a walkable neighborhood, as well as one with low crime that was close to family.
“It’s time to abandon the idea that only millennials and Generation X care about walkability and the services available in dense urban neighborhoods,” says Charlie Severn, head of marketing at A Place for Mom. “These results show a growing set of senior housing consumers also find these neighborhoods desirable. It’s a trend that should be top of mind among developers.”
The new survey’s findings mirror what many in the industry have already discovered, and reinforce why a number of designers, planners, and architects have called for a larger reconsideration of how to design for our growing older adult population, and a focus on creating multi-generational communities in suburban centers to meet these growing needs. While financial considerations are still paramount, walkability ranked high regardless of income level, especially for those under 70 seeking senior apartments.
According to Bill Pettit, President of R.D. Merrill Co., parent company of Merrill Gardens, which develops senior living centers in the Southeast and West Coast, many developers, and society at large, assumed that seniors preferred a more rural or suburban location, due in large part to the fact that developers, looking to create larger campuses, sought out 3-5 acre plots of affordable land far from urban centers. Seniors don’t prefer campus living outside of town centers and urban centers, he says. That was a impression built on how the industry got started.
“We were creating these islands of old age,” he says, “where you’re surrounded by your peers and you lose that intergenerational connectivity. We found we were spending a disproportionate period of time busing our seniors to other places to generate that intergenerational connectivity.”
Pettit says the company has changed its siting strategy recently, developing in urban areas with high walkability scores. He sees seniors electing to live in places where they feel connected. The survey, he says, just confirms that the company’s site selection policy is correct.
“When you can walk to shopping, or cross the street to a park, and that park is filled with children and families, I think it gives you a kind of lift that sitting and playing bingo during the day doesn’t give you,” he says.
He believes that seniors, who will be living longer and healthier lives, will begin to prefer campuses and living arrangements more connected to urban centers, especially as Baby Boomers age. He’s already seeing the shift in those his company serves: today, 75-80 percent of seniors at Merrill Gardens are independent, versus 55-65 percent before the Great Recession.
“The population is also physicallyaging more slowly, so many older adults will be able to stay more active later in life than past generations,” says A Place for Mom’s data scientist Ben Hanowell. “Across the spectrum of care needs, older adults will have a major impact on housing development over the next two decades. As a society, we need to start paying more attention to their behavior and preferences.”
A senior population boom is poised to reshape not just the way Americans think of old age, but how developers respond and build for this changing community. According to the latest report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, Projections and Implications for Housing a Growing Population: Older Households 2015-2035, the number of Americans over 80 will double, from 6 million to 12 million, in the next two decades. By 2035, one out of three U.S. households will be headed by someone over 65. That’s 79 million Americans, or slightly less than the population of Turkey.
Phase Two of Pike and Rose recently opened to the public, and blogger Robert Dyer captured the moment with tons of photos on his @Bethesda Row blog. I’ve re-posted of few of his photos below, but you’ll get to enjoy lots more by clicking through to his blogpost.
Phase Two includes new roads, beautiful Rose Park, and new stores and entertainment options. Sephora starts selling its array of beauty products August 3, and Pinstripes will open for bowling and bocce August 5.
Yesterday, the County Council voted YES on the Supplemental Appropriation and CIP Amendment for $6,582,000 for the Wall Park Garage and Park Improvements!! Friends of White Flint has advocated for more than a year and a half for the County to “un-pave paradise and pull up the parking lot” and yesterday, the Council voted to do just that.
Pallas resident Beth Robinson prepares to testify at the County Council
Friends of White Flint’s Executive Director Amy Ginsburg, the White Flint Implementation Committee, and Pallas resident Beth Robinson testified at the public hearing in favor of building the Wall Park Garage and creating a great green space for all to enjoy.
Specifically, the Council voted to “fund the relocation of surface parking from the Wall Park and Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center (KSAC) to an adjacent parking garage on private property, as suggested by the White Flint Sector Plan. This increase is needed because the relocation of the surface parking to a parking garage will provide for an urban park with amenities in an area with significant multi-family residential development. This appropriation will facilitate development that will provide the opportunity for the County to obtain right-of-way through dedication from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Upon completion of the garage project the County will own 30 percent of the parking spaces under a condominium regime that affords voting rights and ownership to the County for a specific portion of the garage. This recommended amendment is consistent with the criteria for amending the CIP because it offers the opportunity to achieve significant savings through a public private partnership that takes advantage of economies of scale, which will provide the parking garage at a lower cost than if the County had to build its own garage.”
In just a couple of short years, we will all be enjoying the Great Lawn at Wall Park. Look for more information from FoWF about opportunities to give input on this new green space for the Pike District.
The County has just released its Vision Zero Two Year Action Plan. According to the Plan, “the status quo on our roads in Montgomery County and across the United States is unacceptable. The United States is an outlier for traffic fatalities compared to other wealthy countries. On average, more than 35 people lost their lives and 400 were severely injured on roads in Montgomery County, Maryland, annually between 2012 and 2016. These are not accidents and they are not an inevitable ‘cost of doing business’ in the modern world. Behind every traffic safety statistic is a real person whose life is forever changed in one moment. No one in our community should have to grieve the loss of a loved one as the result of a traffic crash. That is why Montgomery County is committed to Vision Zero.”
You can read the full Two-Year Action Plan here and give your feedback by taking this survey.
Canopy by Hilton Washington DC I Bethesda North is coming to Pike and Rose in late 2017/early 2018, and it’s going to be gorgeous and oh so hip. With 177 “just right” rooms including 12 suites, a 3,100 square foot ballroom named “The Outlook” as it peers over the neighborhood with floor to ceiling windows, a 3,200 square foot outdoor multifunctional terrace space named “Pike’s Perspective” situated with large glass garage doors to the fresh air as an extension of the huge indoor lobby area they call “Canopy Central”, Canopy is going to be one of the centerpieces of the Pike District.
Friends of White Flint got a behind-the scenes tour, and we’re excited to report this hotel is going to create an atmosphere as Tom Allen, Lead Sales Enthusiast told us, of “luxury without the attitude” The team of enthusiasts will offer each guest with a local centric welcome gift, basic Wi-Fi, an artisanal breakfast made from fresh, local ingredients and evening “Food & Drink” tastings—all on the house. Rather than clutter up the lobby with a traditional check-in desk, Canopy uses a communal welcome table with tablets or the option for guests to check in on their mobile phone. There is plenty of room on the main level, “Canopy Central”, to work or relax with friends either in the social areas or their “retreat” which is separated with glass and without music. They will also provide a transfer space so early and late arriving guests have a comfortable place in which to shower and relax as well as a retail wall displaying selected books, local products, fun Canopy-branded items and discreetly displayed sundries.
In each “just right” room, there are easy to access outlets and USB ports, a glass bottle to fill with fresh filtered water from a hallway station, a fridge, a Nespresso coffee machine, comfy orange socks to keep your feet warm on the polished concrete floors, soft grey robes, Greek high-end plant based toiletries made from beehive products and organic essential oils, good lighting, and a chaise with a laptop desk. The bathroom even has built in shelves so guests have a place to stash their toiletries besides the sink counter. Instead of an old-fashioned closet, the “un-closeted room” has an open rack-and-shelving unit with hangers.
Enjoy these photos from our behind-the-scenes tour.
The temperature outside hovers in the mid-70s, but inside Hank Dietle’s, it feels like a sauna. It smells like a latrine, too. A couple of fans move the hot air around, providing not a single cool breeze in the process. The smart ones are drinking beer on the front porch, which hasn’t changed much since 1916, when Dietle’s was known as Offutt’s, a general store situated on the oldest road in Montgomery County.
James, a former Marine, sits at the end of the bar, apparently oblivious to the creature discomforts. James is leathery and muscular, still sporting a military-style buzz cut. He’s wearing a Justin Hayward Band concert T-shirt and working his way through a pack of L&M menthol cigarettes and a pitcher of beer. He likes it when Dietle’s is slow. The pool table is always available, and he can play whatever he wants on the jukebox.
Besides, when Dietle’s is dead, James takes it upon himself to serve as the bar’s guardian angel, watching over Marcia, a bartender who’s pulling yet another double shift. She looks to be the only employee in the place, although she seems unfazed by the situation. She’s sitting in a wicker captain’s stool, her feet propped up on the counter, reading her phone and looking as tough as Hillary Clinton on a military plane.
As the oldest bar in Montgomery County — its Class D beer-and-wine license was the first issued after Prohibition — Dietle’s has outlasted some tumultuous times. It survived the opening of White Flint Mall (now all but a memory). It survived the construction of the Metro Red Line (whose workers apparently drank at Dietle’s when their shift ended). It survived a coldblooded murder in the bar’s parking lot in 1972. And it’s surviving the craft cocktail movement.
These days, on Saturdays, Dietle’s showcases rockabilly bands, a throwback sound at a throwback roadhouse. One of the ensembles apparently purchased a microwave for the bar, which is strange, because Dietle’s doesn’t offer food (although the Corned Beef King truck is often parked outside). The microwave, James says, is not for customers, but for the staff. The musicians wanted to make sure the employees could feed themselves, so Dietle’s can continue feeding regulars a slice of Rockville history.
Founded: 1916. Decor: Tile floor, old wooden booths with rigid backs, wooden walls decorated with framed photo collages, arcade games and a jukebox. A roadhouse with a sense of history. Signature drink: None.
A southern California veterinarian is about to introduce Rockville’s residents – human and nonhuman alike – to his brand of pet care.
Dr. Boyd’s Veterinary Resort, a facility that will combine boarding services and medical care, is holding a ribbon-cutting Saturday to celebrate its opening at 11503 Rockville Pike. The roughly 12,500-square-foot center will provide spa and grooming services, medical care, training, and daycare or longer-term accommodations.
The Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday approved plans to establish the pet center in the single-story retail building, which is also occupied by a men’s clothing store. The veterinary resort can accommodate up to 200 pets and will take both dogs and cats, although the primary clientele will be canine, according to a staff report. The 24-hour veterinary hospital will claim about three-quarters of the building and will provide services from orthopedic surgery to injury care. The facility will also have a 3,200-square-foot outdoor exercise yard and dog run.
The business owner, Dr. John Boyd, runs two other such veterinary resorts in southern California, in Irvine and San Diego. On his website, Boyd wrote that he set out to found a “new brand of pet care facility,” where dogs enjoy all-day play and have access to veterinary care. John Wesson will serve as director of the Rockville center.
The ribbon cutting event will take place from noon to 2 p.m. Another boarding facility, Olde Towne Pet Resort, opened earlier this year in Rockville.
Thank you Montgomery County Department of Transportation for paving this dirt trail by Pike and Rose! Our Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign is getting results because advocacy works…and because the White Flint area truly wants walking in our community to be safe and convenient.
Jay Corablis, Friends of White Flint board member, stands by our #PikePeds sign next to the dirt path that’s getting paved.
MCDOT getting ready to pave a walking path where thousands of footsteps had beat a path.
Curious about the re-opening of Woodward High School? Want to learn more about what MCPS is considering for Woodward? Then scroll through their presentation from a May 31, 2017 meeting of the Woodward High School Reopening and Nontraditional Facilities Study Group.
The earliest Woodward HS reopening would be September 2022. Tilden MS will move to new location in September 2020, and construction takes at least two years for a new high school. No boundary changes would occur prior to this time, although there would be a boundary study 18 months prior to opening. Current Grade 5 students could possibly be impacted.
Options for Populating the School
1. Conduct boundary study to reassign students to Woodward High School
2. Eliminate existing Downcounty Consortium and create boundary-based assignments with Woodward High School
3. Conduct countywide boundary study with all high schools including Woodward High School
4. Create a centralized magnet school that would attract students from across the county. (A special program would be developed to attract students)
5. Application process or audition process (such as performing arts)
6. Include Woodward HS in the existing Downcounty Consortium
7. Create a new consortium that includes Woodward HS . Geographic assignment plan study would occur approximately 18 months prior to opening of Woodward HS. High schools that would be included in the study would be identified when the study is initiated