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Pike District Branding and Marketing Update November 2019

Pike District Branding/Marketing Update November 2019 from Maier Warner, the contractor handling the Pike District campaign.

  • Website – We anticipate launching a new website soon.
  • Social Media – Since the month of April, Pike District Facebook has increased its followership by 452 fans. Additionally, each week we are reaching around 1700 people with our content, helping to promote the brand. Twitter followers have grown 729 and Instagram has grown to 630 followers.

We launched The Scoop in June and average a 35% open rate. We also use eblasts to communicate to the food truck audience. We now have 1,121 on our master list and 110 on our food truck list.  

  • Events — Pop-up
    • Pike District is hosting a Happy Hour at Quincy’s South on Wednesday November 13. We will be handing out swag, collecting email addresses and doing a raffle for gift cards
    • Pike District is hosting Artists & Makers First Friday on Friday December 6. We are working with Relish, a PD caterer, and 7 Locks. We will be raffling off gift certificates and collecting email addresses. Event attracts 300-500 people.
    • #FoodonWheels will continue in both locations until the weather turns
    • We hosted our first office lobby activation at 11810 Grand Park Avenue. We served breakfast from Summer House. About 100 people attended and we collected about 72 email addresses. We also picked a winner of a $100 gift card to Summer House.
    • Welcome gift bags were ordered and be distributed over the next few weeks to local apartment communities.
    • We are also planning to bring breakfast to some local Realtor offices to share information about the Pike District
  • Placemaking
    • We will be installing a banner on the pedestrian walkway fence that faces Old Georgetown Road right after the website launches.
    • We have approval from WMATA to hang light pole banners on Rockville Pike. We anticipate they will be installed in December.
    • A proposal was submitted to the WMATA Art in Transit team to install a mural on the wall facing Rockville Pike.
    • Marinelli Pocket Park (northwest corner of Rockville Pike and Marinelli behind Metro entrance). We have a proposal for permanent tables and chairs as well as a shade sail. We are awaiting a proposal for street furniture.

Curious about the Pike District Branding and Placemaking Campaign? Here’s an update.

Kris Warner of Maier Warner provided the following update on their Pike District branding and placemaking work.

  1. Website – the new site is in production and we anticipate an early November launch.
  2. Social Media – Since the month of April, Pike District Facebook has increased to 823 followers and reaching nearly 4,000 people each month. Twitter followers have grown to 714 and Instagram has grown to 606 followers.
  3. We launched Pike District monthly newsletter, The Scoop, in June and average a 35% open rate to 1,151 subscribers. We also use eblasts to communicate to the food truck audience and are building a separate list. Currently there are nearly 100 on our #FoodOnWheels mailing list. Here are links to the latest:[UNIQID] To sign up to receive future newsletters, please click here:
  4. Events
    1. Pop Ups
      1. Over the summer, we hosted two pop-ups at Metro, engaging with Metro riders by handing out cookies and ice cream and talking with them about the Pike District.
      2. #FoodonWheels was launch in August with two locations – Chapman Avenue at Marinelli and at 6100 Executive Blvd. Sales have been good some weeks but inconsistent. We continue to work with property management in all the nearby office buildings to make more employees aware of the weekly food trucks.
      3. We are kicking off our office lobby activations next week with food and/or giveaways
      4. We are also planning a welcome gift program to new residents moving into Pike District apartment communities.

Maier Warner selected for Pike District Placemaking and Branding contract

As this week’s White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee meeting, it was announced that Maier Warner was awarded the county contract for placemaking and branding in the Pike District. Kris Warner from Marier Warner Public Relations/Marketing explained their plans, which include social media, a website refresh, placemaking events, placemaking infrastructure, and other marketing will be part of their placemaking and branding campaign.

Maier & Warner is a motivated team of marketing and public relations professionals dedicated to providing high-quality communications strategies. They bring creative thinking to bear in a variety of business areas including commercial and residential real estate, economic development, land use and design, retail marketing, and general institutional, government and corporate needs.

Urban Land Institute to provide recommendations on Pike District branding

The Urban Land Institute, an urban planning nonprofit, will join the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee today to lead a Technical Assistance Program to discuss how to brand the developing area around the White Flint Metro station as the Pike District. The name Pike District was chosen by a group of developers, businesses and residents in 2014, but isn’t widely used by locals yet. The panel’s goal is to propose a number of recommendations to help brand and identify the Pike District.

Many Friends of White Flint board members and Friends of White Flint executive director, Amy Ginsburg, will be participating in the ULI Technical Assistance Panel today and tomorrow.

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


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.

What’s in a name? White Flint rebranding effort seeks to find out

Today it’s the name of a mall, but could it become the name of a neighborhood as well?

When Ben Harris and his wife moved from Logan Circle in DC to an apartment off of Rockville Pike in 2011, he didn’t know what to call his new neighborhood.

“I was telling people where I live and they would ask ‘What neighborhood is that?'” he says.

This confusion inspired the name of Harris’s new local blog, NorthFlintVille. “It’s taking North Bethesda and White Flint and Rockville and mashing them together, which in my experience is how people kind of think of the area,” he says.

The White Flint Partnership, a coalition of property owners working to transform White Flint from a suburban strip to an urban hub, wants to change that. They’re looking for a marketing firm to develop a new “brand” for the White Flint Sector Plan area.

Partnership member Lerner Enterprises owns White Flint Mall, which will be partially demolished and redeveloped as an urban neighborhood. Francine Waters, managing director of Lerner Enterprises, hope the study will “identify what would resonate the best not only locally, but regionally, nationally and internationally,” she says. “It’s not only a name but, frankly, telling the story of our journey from where we were to where we hope to achieve.”

Though little work has been completed, they plan to have something “sometime in the summer,” Waters says. The goal is to create a unified brand for the entire Sector Plan area that would be used by all landowners, though individual developments like Pike + Rose would still have their own identity.

There’s no consensus, official or otherwise, about what to call the area today. The Census Bureau calls the area North Bethesda, and the United States Postal Service calls it Rockville.

Montgomery County planners do use the name “White Flint,” after White Flint Mall, which in turn is named for the white quartz rocks historically found in the area. Ironically, the mall actually has a Kensington address.

As a result, the area’s name changes depending on who you ask. Harris tells people he lives “just north of the White Flint Metro station” or “somewhere up Rockville Pike, close to Rockville.” He adds, “Specifically, I tell people we live across from the strip mall with the Barnes & Noble in it.”

Some use different terms depending on who they’re talking to, like Vanessa Rodriguez, senior marketing manager at Federal Realty Investment Trust, which is participating in the rebranding effort. When talking to clients or potential tenants, she calls it “the White Flint district,” but if talking to a friend or relative, she’d “probably say Rockville or North Bethesda.”

“The problem with the White Flint district is that it does not feel like a cohesive area,” she says. “We need to cultivate that brand.”

Located in the District, NoMa is a successful example of rebranding a neighborhood. Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.

Will a new name fix that? It might, judging from other DC-area communities that have rebranded themselves, like Capitol Riverfront and NoMa in the District or Tysons in Fairfax County. All three names were attempts by business and community leaders to shake those places’ once-negative or underwhelming reputations, they’re all beginning to draw new residents, businesses and investment.

While some may complain that these new names are artificial, they’re often born out of necessity. It’s not surprising that developers in NoMa chose not to use that neighborhood’s historical name; after all, who would rent a luxury apartment in a place called Swampoodle?

Not only that, but invented names have been used to sell real estate for centuries. Rockville was originally called Williamsburgh, after local businessman William Williams, who divided the town into lots and sold them in 1784. Later, the 19th-century developers of Kensington and Takoma Park named them after a posh London neighborhood and a Native American word meaning “near heaven,” respectively.

All of these names had to carry the weight of a place that didn’t yet exist and sell future residents and businesses on what could be. People already live and work in White Flint, but there isn’t a “center” or “anchor” that they can rally around. That’s arguably why some people today associate the area with Rockville or Bethesda, which do have defined centers. The White Flint Sector Plan seeks to change that by creating a “downtown” here, but what we call it sets the stage for what it will become.

So what could White Flint’s new name be? Rodriguez says that potential names have been “kicked around” in the past, but “nothing we really want to explore.” White Flint may not even be one of the names under consideration.

Given all of these issues, Waters acknowledges the challenge that lies ahead, including finding the right people to do the rebranding. “There are few [marketing] firms in the US that have done something of this magnitude,” says Waters. “It’s quite a phenomenal effort. We wanna make sure it’s done right.”

Thanks to everyone who took our poll of serious (and not-so-serious) names for White Flint! The poll is now closed.

**Updated 3/1/13 to reflect that the White Flint Partnership, not Lerner Enterprises, will spearhead the branding study effort.

It’s official!

Montgomery County Executive Elrich Submits Letter to WMATA Requesting White Flint Metro Station to be Renamed ‘North Bethesda Metro Station’

Last week, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich submitted a letter to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) requesting the renaming of the White Flint Metro Station to be named the “North Bethesda Metro Station.”

Beginning in 2020, the County collaborated in station retitling efforts with the Greater Bethesda Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, the Friends of White Flint, the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee, and other community leaders. A public meeting, sponsored by the above groups as well as the County Executive and the District One Councilmember Andrew Friedson, was held on March 31, 2021 where the new designation of “North Bethesda” was selected.

“The development of the North Bethesda Metro Station is not only critical to the future economic growth of Montgomery County but the entire state and region,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Thanks to our State Delegates in Districts 16 and 18, we have secured $250,000 toward the renaming costs. In addition, the County will contribute $50,000, and there is a commitment that remaining costs will be paid by the key property owners in the immediate vicinity of this station. The choice of ‘North Bethesda’ was the consensus of this community. I expect for generations to come the name ‘North Bethesda’ will be known as an epicenter in the bio/life sciences and quantum computing industries supported by private sector companies, academics, and federal agencies developed in a 21st-century sustainable and equitable location.”

“The Metro station is crucial to the viability of this area and our community’s vision for it,” District 1 Councilmember Andrew Friedson said. “We need a Metro station that reflects that vision and helps our economic development, regional competitiveness, and placemaking efforts so the Pike District and North Bethesda becomes an even more vibrant, walkable, and livable destination.”

“The entire Montgomery County House and Senate Delegations recognize the economic potential of ‘North Bethesda.’  Rebranding the Metro station is crucial to achieving that success and we were pleased to fight to obtain that state investment,” said Marc Korman, Delegate from District 16.

In 2010, Montgomery County completed a comprehensive update to the White Flint Sector Plan. Since that time, much has changed in North Bethesda including the former White Flint Mall which was dismantled between 2017 and 2020. A key goal for the community – both residential and business – is identity; and White Flint is no longer a relevant name or term used.

“Friends of White Flint believes the name ‘North Bethesda’ honors the history of this remarkable neighborhood and heralds a spectacular future as a walkable, transit-oriented, vibrant community,” said Amy Ginsburg, executive director of Friends of White Flint.

“Renaming the Metro station has been an imperative goal of the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee to support current and future branding efforts of both the Pike District and greater North Bethesda,” said White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee Chairperson Andy Shulman. “We are pleased with the consensus amongst community, government and property stakeholders around the name ‘North Bethesda’ for the station.”

You can also read the media coverage:

WTOP: Montgomery Co. executive seeks name change for White Flint Metro stop

Bethesda Beat: Elrich supports ‘North Bethesda’ as new name for White Flint Metro station

Washington Business Journal: Montgomery County looks to rename White Flint Metro station

An Update on Harwood Flats

You might now be asking yourself, Huh? What’s Harwood Flats? Harwood Flats is the new name for East Village, the apartment building currently being built on Nicholson Lane. Here’s a quick behind-the-scenes Q and A with Foulger Pratt, one of the developers of the project.

Why did you change the name? The original branding direction for the project was refreshed from its original concept and refined to better meet the market and our target audience. This new name provides a subtle urban appeal.

Where are you in the project right now and what is the expected completion date? We are currently working on the seven-story concrete structure and expect to deliver our first units in the 3rd Quarter of 2022.

How many residences will there be? Harwood Flats will have 335 units (42 MPDU’s) with a unit mix of studios, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3-bedroom units.

What amenities will Harwood Flats residents enjoy? The community will have just over 15,000sf of amenity space. Amenities will include a fitness center + yoga room, an interior courtyard on the ground level and a club room, game room, private dining area and pool deck on the top floor (level 7)