Category Development Projects

Federal Realty Signs Tech Innovator United Solutions to North Bethesda Office

909 Rose Avenue

909 ROSE AVENUE PHOTO: BY FEDERAL REALTY INVESTMENT TRUST

From Commercial Observer

Tech company United Solutions has signed a 20,602-square-foot lease to take the top floor at 909 Rose Avenue, a 212,000-square-foot office building in the Pike & Rose neighborhood of North Bethesda, Md., with landlord Federal Realty Investment Trust

Rockville, Md.-based United Solutions, which offers technological products involving blockchain, artificial intelligence and automation, plans to move into the building this winter.

“We are grateful for the opportunities we have had with our federal government partners and organizations around the world, to help them realize the power of cutting edge technologies to reinvent businesses and protect workforces,” David Nguyen, United Solutions’ founder and CEO, said in a release. “Our success has enabled us to expand our reach, and subsequently, expand our workforce. We look forward to growing in a state-of-the-art space and amenity rich neighborhood that will enhance employee morale, recruiting and engagement.” 

Federal Realty opened the 11-story, LEED Gold-certified office building last summer, and moved its own headquarters into the second and third floors. Earlier this year, workplace provider Industrious signed a 42,768-square-foot lease in the same building. OneDigital is also currently in the building, which is now two-thirds leased.

The building features contactless entry throughout the parking garage, lobby and elevators, and an HVAC system that meets enhanced health and safety standards. It also offers outside air filtered to levels appropriate for general surgery rooms.

“Federal is committed to getting people back to work safely, in dynamic buildings with advanced health and wellness attributes, such as 909 Rose,” James Milam, Federal Realty’s senior vice president, said. 

909 Rose is part of the 24-acre, transit-oriented Pike & Rose neighborhood that Federal Realty is developing. It includes a residential component as well as dining and entertainment options. 

Enjoy these pics of Bark Social — it’s almost here

Courtesy of Robert Dyer

The expected February 26, 2021 opening date of Bark Social is rapidly approaching at Pike & Rose. Construction of the dog park and craft beer and wine bar has advanced accordingly. More of the shipping container structures have been completed, and the lights are on inside. Branded logos have been applied to the sides of the containers, including a dog drinking from a glass of beer.

The intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Executive Blvd. will be closing in March

MCDOT has announced they will be closing the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Executive Blvd. in early March to speed up completion of the Western Workaround project and ensure the safety of construction workers.

The detour plan can be found on the map below (which I know is a bit fuzzy) and also here. MCDOT plans to have signage directing people along the detour routes. MCDOT will soon share their plans for pedestrian and bicycle access as well as a better detour map.

Prior to the intersection closure, MCDOT and its prime contractor will ensure that the new section of Grand Park Avenue between Old Georgetown Road and Banneker Avenue is open to traffic. In addition, the scheduled improvements along Executive Blvd. between Nicholson Lane and Banneker Avenue will be completed before the intersection closure. 

Work hours will be from 6:00 am until 10:00 pm Monday through Friday. N0 overnight shift is planned at this time. The intersection will be closed for about five months.

MCDOT is planning outreach to the businesses and residents who live and work near this intersection. If you have questions or concerns about this closure, you can ask Marcelo Cortez, Chief, Transportation Construction Section, MCDOT, Division of Transportation Engineering at R.Marcelo.Cortez@montgomerycountymd.gov .

Industrious Brings New Flexible Office Space to Pike & Rose

From The MoCo Show

Industrious – the highest-rated workplace provider in the industry – today announced its plans to open a distinctive new flexible office location in North Bethesda. Located at 909 Rose Avenue and spanning a total of 42,768 square feet, the new shared workplace will occupy the fourth and fifth floors of a LEED Gold-certified building in the heart of one of Washington, D.C.’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Industrious Pike & Rose is scheduled to open in August, 2021 and will provide an alternative to commuting into the city or working from home.

Together with eight additional locations across Arlington, Alexandria, McLean and Capitol Hill, the North Bethesda space brings Industrious’ total Washington, D.C. metropolitan area footprint to nearly 200,000 square-feet. Named the fastest-growing company in the industry by Inc. Magazine, Industrious has signed, opened or taken over more than one million square-feet of new workspace nationwide over the last year.

“The greater Washington, D.C. market is in a new age of demand as enterprise businesses establish their headquarters here,” said Justin Stewart, President and Co-Founder of Industrious. “We launched our first D.C. location in 2018 and have been excited to grow our footprint to meet demand for custom workspaces throughout the greater metro area. North Bethesda fits in perfectly with the hub-and-spoke approach we’re seeing in suburban markets nationwide, and we’re excited to deliver yet more office options to local businesses and their employees.”

Industrious Pike & Rose will join the 24-acre, transit-oriented neighborhood including over 40 tenants of thoughtfully merchandised retail space. The selection of restaurants (including Summer House Santa Monica, Fogo de Chao, &pizza, sweetgreen and Julii), retailers (including REI, Sephora, L.L.Bean and Sur La Table, Uniqlo), a state-of-the-art Porsche dealership, and unique entertainment offerings (iPic Theaters, Pinstripes and AMP by Strathmore) have created a one-of-a-kind retail environment. The neighborhood is fully enhanced by the offerings of 99 luxury condominiums and penthouses uniquely positioned above Canopy by Hilton, a 177-key boutique hotel; 765 luxury apartments; and a 17,000-square-foot rooftop farm. 909 Rose also features a dedicated suite of amenities available to Industrious members that include a fitness center with full-service locker rooms, multiple meeting areas, a café with a lounge and pantry, bike storage, and a Wifi-enabled rooftop terrace.

“As demand continues to grow for best-in-class coworking space in the DC-metro suburbs, Industrious is a welcomed addition to the Pike & Rose neighborhood,” said James Milam of Federal. “The reputation of Industrious, and its high-quality office product to the market is an ideal fit for 909 Rose, our trophy office building, and for business professionals who live and work in our community,” continues Milam.

Industrious Pike & Rose is expected to offer 141 private suites, 11 conference rooms and 18 phone rooms. The building features contactless entry throughout the parking garage, lobby and elevators, and the Industrious space includes a leading HVAC system to meet enhanced health and safety standards. Additional information including building amenities and booking options can be found here. Industrious provides places to work that are safe, comfortable, and private — and are designed around people’s individual preferences and schedules. Around the country, past and present Industrious members include: Cisco, Lyft, Spotify, Heineken, Chipotle, Pinterest, and Salesforce.

What Happened to White Flint?

I don’t generally copy a blogpost word for word (it’s just not the right thing to do,) but yesterday’s article from Seventh State by Adam Pagnucco deserves to break the rules. It’s that good. This article ought to be required reading for every resident, business, property owner, and politician with an interest in the White Flint/Pike District area.

Ten years ago, White Flint was regarded as the future crown jewel of MoCo. With a shiny new master plan, a tax district for infrastructure and an assortment of regulatory breaks, the area was supposed to create new high-end high-rises combining office, retail and residential uses that would generate billions of dollars in county revenues over coming decades. Everyone who lives here knows that vision is still largely unrealized. And now a new report by county planning staff lays out why.

First, let’s revisit what White Flint was envisioned to become in its 2010 master plan: a smart growth, walkable mecca around a transformed Rockville Pike which would be transit-heavy and pedestrian friendly. The plan required substantial infrastructure investment including streetscaping, a new road network and a bus rapid transit route. Unlike many county master plans, this one had a mechanism for financing infrastructure: a new special taxing district. Properties inside the taxing district would pay into a fund used to pay for the new infrastructure needed to bring the plan to life. In return, impact taxes were set to zero. The council set an infrastructure project list through a resolution and projects in the district were exempted from county traffic reviews. This combination of high density, infrastructure investment and regulatory exemptions was revolutionary for MoCo at the time and still has not been fully replicated. MoCo politicians love to throw around the word “bold” like peanut shells, but White Flint (now marketed as the Pike District) truly deserved the adjective.

So what happened?

In simple terms, the planning staff describes a negative, self-reinforcing feedback loop that has no identifiable end. The loop functions like this. Low levels of development led to low proceeds for the tax district. It was supposed to raise $45 million in its first 10 years but only generated $12-15 million. Low tax district revenues held back the construction of some of the transportation improvements and other infrastructure necessary to make the area more attractive to investment. Developers seeking financing for projects were hindered by the inadequate infrastructure along with the “prominence of underutilized properties.” One of those properties, the mammoth White Flint Mall site, was tied up by years of litigation. The lack of financing, along with construction costs and market conditions, has held back development. And of course the lack of development holds back tax district revenues necessary to pay for infrastructure, so the cycle continues.

This map from the report shows the vast majority of land in White Flint is underutilized (areas marked in red and orange) relative to its zoning.

The most interesting part of the report summarizes comments from White Flint property owners, who comprise a who’s who list of prominent MoCo developers. First, let’s identify what they don’t complain about. They don’t complain about the plan itself; indeed, they think the area still has potential. They don’t complain about market demographics; they find the wealth and education levels in the area attractive. They don’t intend to sell their existing properties, which generate enough cash to cover operating costs and taxes, but they’re not in a hurry to redevelop them. And not a single one of them complained about taxes or requested a tax abatement.

Here are a few excerpts from the report on their take on White Flint’s problems.

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All developers interviewed cited Montgomery County’s limited job growth as a fundamental challenge to continued construction in the Pike District. Low levels of new jobs limit the number of new families seeking to occupy units in the county (household formation), decreasing demand for new development. In addition to limited employment growth, construction costs increased dramatically since 2010, office users occupied less space per employee, and retail demand declined with the rise of online shopping, all factors that continue to reduce demand for or limit the financial feasibility of new development.

Multiple developers noted without providing details that their firm managed to solve issues of high construction costs in other submarkets where there is a higher pace of job growth and household formation, which in turn supports rent growth.

Developers interviewed affirmed that the Pike District is accessible to fewer jobs within a reasonable commute than its peer non-downtown submarkets, and that this reduced access to job centers limits demand for additional multifamily units.

All developers interviewed cited Montgomery County’s limited job growth as a fundamental challenge to continued construction in the Pike District. Low levels of new jobs limit the number of new families seeking to occupy units in the county (household formation), decreasing demand for new development. Developers cited the reduced pace of household formation as a key contributor to stagnant rents, a major concern for the feasibility of future projects.

Several developers independently stated that the attraction of a major employer to the Pike District, such as a life science campus, would significantly increase the feasibility of new multifamily projects.

Developers are not currently willing to build speculative office projects in Montgomery County due to the lack of underlying job growth and the uncertainty about the future of the office sector. Several developers mentioned that they would still consider speculative office construction in Tysons and along the Silver Line corridor, highlighting the continued job growth in Northern Virginia and the contrast with suburban Maryland.

Several interviewees contrasted recent Northern Virginia economic development wins, such as the expansion of Microsoft in Reston, with news that a large distribution center project in Gaithersburg for Amazon is in jeopardy due to delays in the entitlement process. These interviewees stressed that while the number of jobs in these deals is modest, there is a constant drumbeat of positive economic news from Northern Virginia that is unmatched from suburban Maryland.

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Let’s boil this down to three words: jobs, Jobs, JOBS. Employment growth was the dominant theme for these developers, but they had a few things to say about business climate and regulations too.

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Interviewees related that development projects ultimately deliver equivalent profits as similar projects in neighboring jurisdictions, but that Montgomery County’s reputation as generally “a difficult place to do business” limits developer interest.

Developers agreed that the difficulty of the business environment issue is primarily about perception rather than the ultimate profitability. Interviewees cited as examples a range of policy issues such as a minor energy efficiency tax that Montgomery County leadership presented and implemented as a temporary measure but that never expired.

Multiple interviewees stated that in competitor counties they feel that the entitlement review process is oriented to enabling and facilitating a project, whereas in Montgomery County it feels like an oppositional relationship. Related to this, developers feel the County continually creates new policies and initiatives that adversely affect development, and which ultimately encourages them to focus on assets elsewhere in the region.

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The county council and the planning staff are focused on tax abatements as a way to stimulate development, especially housing. But developers in White Flint weren’t complaining about taxes. In fact, tax revenues are NECESSARY to finance infrastructure required to make development happen and function well. It is the absence of tax revenues that resulted in under-financing of infrastructure in White Flint, a key part of the area’s negative feedback loop.

Instead of taxes, the key issue identified by White Flint developers is the absence of job growth, which they believe would stimulate demand for housing and eventually make the economics of housing construction work even with high construction costs. In short: if you want more housing, create more jobs. All of these developers know what we have been saying on Seventh State for years: MoCo has one of the worst records on job growth and business formation of any large jurisdiction in the metro area.

The county’s terrible record on job growth and business formation must be reversed.

All of this points to the need for a strategic decision. MoCo can focus like a laser on job creation, doing everything possible to help entrepreneurs grow their organizations and create employment for residents. If the county does that, the vision of White Flint and other smart growth plans can be realized. Or MoCo can keep handing out tens of millions of dollars in corporate welfare as it has done for decades, thereby depleting its ability to construct infrastructure that facilitates economic growth. Or it can do nothing.

Those are the choices. What will MoCo choose?

Real estate developer LCOR opens 294-unit community in Montgomery County

The Daily Record reported that LCOR has opened its 294-unit Arrowwood apartment community in North Bethesda’s Pike District. LCOR developed Arrowwood, at 5410 McGrath Blvd., in a joint partnership with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Apartments include junior one- and two-bedroom apartments, standard one- and two-bedroom apartments, and one-bedroom apartments with dens (perfect for working from home!) There are tons of amenities — bike storage, courtyard with a firepit, floor-to-ceiling windows, tech lounge, fitness center to name just a few.

Located in the heart of North Bethesda’s Pike District, Arrowwood is situated in a lively, walkable neighborhood that offers countless retail, dining, outdoor recreation, and nightlife options. In fact, Starbucks and a 24-hr Harris Teeter are literally just steps away 

The December 2, 2020 Pre-Submission Community Meeting for Phase I Site Plan for NORTHPARK AT MONTROSE

Northpark at Montrose (formerly known as the Wilgus Tract project) shared its plan during an online presentation last week. We’re excited to show you their slides (most of them, at least) because it’s going to be a wonderful addition to the White Flint/Pike District area!

To refresh your memory, this is a 16 acre property between Montrose Road and Montrose Parkway catty-corner from Pike & Rose. As of right now, they are planning to build both townhouses and multi-family housing as well as a park and tree buffers.

WMATA Discussed White Flint Metro Station Development at County Council

Yesterday at the County Council Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee meeting, Metro Real Estate and Station Planning Director Nina Albert presented three concepts for the White Flint station property: urban neighborhood, corporate campus, and entertainment/innovation district. White Flint metro station development is considered to be a #1 priority for WMATA.

Nina Albert said the agency wants to be prepared to move quickly if another “Amazon-style” opportunity comes to Montgomery County. In 2018, White Flint was considered for a second Amazon headquarters site, but the company decided to divide the new location between Arlington, Virginia and New York City.

Albert also noted that the county executive’s office wants White Flint to be a life sciences campus; Maryland is the fourth most-active life sciences area in the country. She said the county will take the lead in establishing the vision for the site and Metro will work on the development side.

Metro property development discussion follows up on the bill passed in October that exempts private developers from property taxes for 15 years if they build high-rise buildings on Metro property. (Friends of White Flint supported this bill.)

Bagels are coming to Pike & Rose

Call Your Mother, a deli best known for their bagel sandwiches, is planning to open a new location in Pike & Rose, filling the 2,283 square feet space vacated by Lucky in the spring.

Call Your Mother currently has three DC locations as well as a trolley location in Bethesda.  In addition, you can find their bagels at four different farmers markets throughout the DMV.

Customers will be able to order online and at the shop Monday through Friday for pickup, the press release stated. Between 10 and 15 employees will work at the store.

Stuart Biel, the senior vice president for regional leasing of landlord Federal Realty Investment Trust, said in the press release that Call Your Mother “perfectly complements the current mix and adds a much-needed deli concept to the market.”