When it comes to developing the fast-growing life sciences sector, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich wants to make something clear: He knows the county can do better.
“Montgomery County has, admittedly, a really bad reputation for handling development. We are working overtime to change that,” Elrich said at Bisnow’s Mid-Atlantic Life Sciences & Biotech summit on Tuesday. “We punch below our weight, and so my goal is to start punching at our weight.”
Currently, Montgomery County has one submarket in particular where it is directing state and county investment. Elrich said he is partnering with WMATA and the state of Maryland to develop 11.5 acres around the North Bethesda Metro station, formerly White Flint, joining buildings like 935 Prose Street to create a mixed-use life sciences hub.
That kind of urbanized development convinced Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to “put skin in the game for the first time,” Elrich said, with a $16M investment to improve transportation and other infrastructure needs near North Bethesda.
The County Hearing Examiner released his report to the County Council today recommending approval of the Strathmore Avenue redevelopment zoning change. The County Council has 60 days to make its determination but may extend that timeframe. If the Council approves the Amendment, the community would have opportunity to engage with Planning staff and the developers during the preliminary plan development. A notice about the process is attached.The link to the report is here:
“In the D.C. region, where local governments are struggling to address a severe housing shortage that is driving up prices, elected officials are under growing pressure to push back against civically engaged homeowners who mobilize against new housing construction.
Montgomery County, an affluent D.C. suburb that has experienced transformative growth and demographic change in the last 30 years, exemplifies how hard that can be.
“We have this system where local governments are the gatekeepers for new housing production,” says Jenny Schuetz, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who examines the national housing shortage in her book Fixer-Upper: How to Repair America’s Broken Housing Systems. “Local governments, in turn, have outsourced a lot of their authority to existing residents, so existing homeowners in particular have essentially veto power over proposals to build new housing.”
Right now, homeowners are challenging hundreds of apartments and townhomes that developers have applied to build in Montgomery County, including more than 180 homes for lower-income residents. The citizen activists, most of whom have hired lawyers, contend that the new housing will clog traffic, harm the environment, block views, create construction noise, or have other negative effects on their quality of life. At least one dispute has been elevated to court.
Homeowners are simultaneously fighting a proposed long-term plan for the county that would encourage more housing near jobs and transit. Resistance to the plan, called Thrive Montgomery 2050, is loud and persistent. County council members — most of whom are either up for re-election or running for other elected offices this year — have responded by holding additional hearings and delaying a vote on the plan by several months.
Officials say there are multiple reasons for lagging home construction, including the pandemic, sky-high land values, costly labor and materials, onerous regulations, and inflexible zoning. But homeowners who protest development are part of the problem.”
CR-3.0 C-0.5 R-2.75 H-300 and R-60; 14.6 acres; located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Rockville Pike and Tuckerman Lane adjacent to the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station; 2017 Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan.
A. Request to modify lot lines and associated conditions of approval, street sections and design, park boundary and loading/entry points for Lot 3. B. Request for approval of Phase 1 with up to 304,445 square feet of development, including up to 9,000 square feet of commercial development and up to 295,445 square feet of residential development (up to 225 220 dwelling units). In accordance with Zoning Ordinance Section.7.3.3.I, the Site Plan will amend the conditions and binding elements of Sketch Plan 320190010 to increase the building height from 100 ft to 105 ft for Buildings 3A and 3B (while maintaining the required step-back along Tuckerman Lane), clarify maximum height allowed for all buildings, modify the public benefit schedule, and update site design and future coordination conditions. Staff Recommendation: Approval with conditions and Adoption of the Resolution
The Bethesda-based developer is preparing two developments under the moniker “EvolutionLabs” to take advantage of the growing life sciences demand in the county, including a 550K SF development near Pike & Rose, the developer announced Thursday.
That project, EvolutionLabs at North Bethesda, is planned to include three buildings at the intersection of Old Georgetown and Banneker roads. The first groundbreaking there would be in 2024, according to the release. Stonebridge is under contract to acquire the land for that project, Stonebridge principal Kent Marquis told Bisnow in an email.
The property will take advantage of the “urban, walkable, transit-oriented,” spaces under development near the White Flint Metro station, Marquis said.
“We feel the life sciences market in Montgomery County is looking for purpose-built labs that offer the convenience of an urban location,” Marquis said in a release.
The Western Workaround project involves realigning the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard. When completed, it will be a four-way intersection with:
Old Georgetown Road approaching from the south, as it does now
Old Georgetown Road continuing east from the intersection to Md. 355
Towne Road running north-south between the intersection and Josiah Henson Parkway, formerly known as Montrose Parkway
Executive Boulevard approaching from the west, as it does now
Timothy Cupples, the chief of the transportation department’s Division of Transportation Engineering, told Bethesda Beat last week that construction crews are finishing work on Towne Road, which will travel along the western boundary of Pike & Rose.
Cupples said construction is supposed to be finished by the end of this year, but the winter months limit construction, and work could last into the spring of 2023.
915 Meeting Street will be a 16-story, state-of-the-art, LEED Gold-targeted building featuring 9,600 square feet of ground floor retail, approximately 25,000-square-foot flexible floor plates and 700 dedicated parking spaces. The building, designed by Gensler, will incorporate a vibrant architectural design that includes numerous amenities, such as a rooftop conference center with collaborative common areas, WiredScore-targeted connectivity, a fitness center, and resource-efficient sustainable and wellness features.
Located in the Pike & Rose neighborhood of North Bethesda, 915 Meeting Street will sit within the transit-oriented, LEED Gold-certified neighborhood of Pike & Rose and its more than 400,000 square feet of retail, services, dining, and entertainment offerings. The new construction comes following the success of Pike & Rose’s 300,000 square feet of existing office product, which includes tenants such as Bank of America, JLL, Industrious, OneDigital and Federal Realty’s corporate headquarters.
915 Meeting Street broke ground in late 2021 and has made significant progress. The building is 40% pre-leased to Choice Hotels, who plans to relocate approximately 400 corporate employees from its current headquarters beginning in December of 2023. Bernie McCarthy, executive managing director, and Danny Sheridan, managing director at JLL represented Federal Realty, and Steve London, vice chairman at Savills represented Choice Hotels.
“It’s been gratifying to see Pike & Rose become an established neighborhood and the real estate of choice for multiple uses,” said Don Wood, chief executive officer for Federal Realty. “The continued demand for office at our mixed-use developments, coming from world-class companies like Splunk and NetApp at Santana, Partners Healthcare and PUMA at Assembly, and now Choice at Pike & Rose, validates our track record of delivering a high-quality product that capitalizes on the highly amenitized environments we have created.
Construction will continue for the White Flint Substation project Mon-Fri with Saturday work as needed for make-up days for weather related events. Flaggers will be on site to direct traffic and work will be covered with steel plates after hours. For moves, deliveries, or any special circumstances during our work hours, please alert me in advance for coordination with our crew.
Randolph Road Micro-Tunnel The crew will continue working on Randolph Rd. from Parklawn Dr. to Nebel St for the micro- tunnel operation. The traffic control plan will allow East bound traffic only on Randolph Rd. West bound traffic will be detoured down Parklawn Dr. to Rockville Pike-MD-355. Sidewalks on Randolph Rd. will remain open to pedestrians throughout the duration of the micro-tunnel construction.
While working during the permitted hours, flaggers will be posted at every two driveways to help coordinate traffic going to local businesses and three officers are posted to mitigate traffic. “We’re Open” signs have been placed in front of all entrances to encourage business patronage during construction. All traffic control measures will remain in place 24/7 until the work is completed.
Week of 01/17/2022CSX/Randolph Rd.-Package A (SECA)– Continue first drive- Continue forming CIP MH- Pour concrete
Nebel St.-Package C (CW & Sons)– Continue conduit installation around the 500 series manholes- Continue conduit install to substation wall- Pour concrete- Backfill-chester to install 2” to wall penetration
Week of 01/24/2022White Flint Substation-Package-A/B (CW & Sons Crew #2)– Pour concrete- Remove forms- Backfill- Continue certification between 100/101 manholes
Nebel St.-Package C (CW & Sons)– Continued coordination regarding Cathodic Protection- Install conduitCSX/Randolph Rd.-Package A/B (SECA)– Continue first drive
Week of 01/31/2022Nebel St.-Package C (CW & Sons)– Cathodic protection- Backfill trench
CSX/Randolph Rd.-Package A/B (SECA)– Complete first drive- Prepare for second drive