Mandatory Referral No. MR 2021020, Request for the acquisition of 11600 Nebel Street in Rockville as an emergency homeless shelter

Read the entire staff memo here.

Project Description

The Montgomery County Department of General Services (DGS) is acquiring an office building located at 11600
Nebel Street to operate an emergency homeless center. An existing facility in Rockville will soon close, and
recreation centers, which have been utilized during the pandemic as temporary spaces, will re-open as the
pandemic eases. The proposed facility will ensure that a full complement of homeless services is available for individuals seeking emergency shelter in the County. All physical changes for the building will occur in the interior of the structure. DGS anticipates that the building will accommodate approximately 200 beds. The operator, Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will determine the specific staffing number. DGS anticipates closing on the property soon.

Site Description

The property at 11600 Nebel Street consists of an existing office building and is surrounded by approximately 100 surface parking spaces. The existing building is approximately 33,048 square feet in size. Two driveways from Nebel Street provide vehicular access to the property. There is a minimal amount of landscaping on the property.

Surrounding Neighborhood

The proposed emergency shelter is located west of Nebel Street, between Marinelli Road and Nicholson Lane. To the immediate north is the Pepco Substation, which is under construction, and the Fitzgerald GMC Rockville automotive dealership is to the south. The WMATA bus depot is located west of the subject site. A variety of non-residential buildings are located east of Nebel Street, including the Montgomery County Pre-Release Center.

Why Thrive Montgomery?

Thrive Montgomery addresses the role of planning in encouraging healthy lifestyles; supporting arts and culture; and building a sense of community, but its overarching goals relate to economic performance, racial equity, and environmental sustainability. You can read about Thrive Montgomery, the first complete overhaul of our community’s comprehensive plan since 1964, here. Also on The Third Place blog, Planning Chair Casey Anderson gives an excellent summary of where we are right now in Montgomery County.

Here are a few tidbits from his recent blogpost:

Our quality of life depends on attracting and retaining employers and, in turn, the employees they need. Montgomery is in the 99th percentile of counties in household income and educational attainment but our economic performance has been slipping since the Great Recession of 2008. The number of jobs in the county grew by 5% from 2004 to 2019 while 20 similarly sized counties across the country grew employment by an average of 21%. Montgomery County experienced the slowest rate of business formation in the DC region from 2010 to 2019.

Household income growth in the county lagged the national average (14% vs. 25%) and was the slowest in the region during this period. Montgomery County added jobs, albeit slowly, but growth came largely in lower wage sectors of the economy.

Today communities with high concentrations of racial and ethnic minorities also show lagging median household incomes.  And even as the county becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, our neighborhoods are still largely separated along income and racial lines.

Unless we attract more young adults this aging of our workforce will put more pressure on the tax base as the proportion of retirees relative to residents in their peak earning years grows. This increase in the so-called elder-adult dependency ratio means that our economic performance will have to improve just to maintain current levels of tax revenue and the services it funds.

Read the entire blog post on The Third Place

Proposed changes to the White Flint Taxing District

The county is proposing changes to the special White Flint Taxing District. For the fifteen people who aren’t property owners who are curious about this issue, you can peruse a Power Point presentation on the topic.

You can read Friends of White Flint’s official position here.

The County Council will hold a work session on the resolution to repeal and replace Resolution No. 16-1570 with respect to the White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Strategy and Infrastructure Improvement List and related amendments to the FY21-26 Capital Improvements Program on TUESDAY, MARCH 9, 2021, 1:30 – 2:30PM

Please join us November 19 for an interesting and informative online Community Meeting

Please join us for a one-hour community Zoom meeting on Thursday, November 19 at 7:00 pm. Register at Walker Freer and Atul Sharma from the Planning Department will update us on a

  • proposed extension of the Trolley Trail through the Pike District
  • pedestrian improvements at the intersection of Route 355 and Route 187
  • the Advancing the Pike District initiative
  • development data over the decade since the passage of the White Flint Sectors Plans

We’re also excited that Councilmember Hans Riemer will join us at 7 pm for a few minutes to welcome everyone and answer a couple of questions from our members.

A veto and response on Bill 29-20

On Friday, County Executive Marc Elrich issued the first veto of his administration against Bill 29-20 by the county council offering 15-year property tax breaks for high-rise developments at Metro stations. Adam Pagnucco wrote an informative blog post discussing this veto on Seventh State at Adam discusses what the County Executive got right and got wrong in Marc Elrich”s detailed explanation of his veto, in Adam’s opinion, of course. It’s well worth reading.

In response, Councilmember Andrew Friedson, one of the bill’s sponsors, wrote on Facebook:

“I’m confident we will have the votes to override the veto to continue our efforts to make Montgomery County more attractive and accessible for new residents, businesses, and investment.

There are so many misleading points in the County Executive’s lengthy statement so I won’t dispute line by line but here are the few key points: 1) The County Executive’s core argument is that these projects would proceed regardless so this incentive comes at a cost despite overwhelming and undeniable evidence demonstrating that simply isn’t the case. None of the WMATA sites are being developed and developers with Joint Development Agreements are walking away all over the region, due to unique infrastructure requirements on these sites, high costs of high-rise construction, etc. 2) These sites currently collect ZERO property tax, generate ZERO housing, and provide virtually no public benefits aside from surface parking. I view that as an abject public failure, but respect anyone who prefers this status quo. 3) Multiple fiscal analyses have demonstrated both that high-rise projects don’t work without the incentive and that the Grosvenor project in particular would generate more revenue to the County in impact and income taxes than the property tax abatement (which the county wouldn’t otherwise receive without a project). 4) The Executive “spiked” his fiscal analysis and has been trumpeting those “costs” despite the fact that they’ve been discredited. For instance, they assumed all 1 bedroom units and all sites generating N. Bethesda rents — both representing far higher numbers than any semblance of reality. 5) The bill gives discretion to start the abatement in Year 2 instead of Year 1 in case Question A doesn’t pass (which shows why it should!). This lowers the value of the benefit, but ensures the County receives the revenue/tax base benefit of the new construction in the future.

All that said, here’s the bottom line: if you believe in the social, economic, and environmental value of high-rise, transit-oriented development and that we have a severe housing crisis that has severely hindered our progress, this bill simply forgoes revenue we wouldn’t otherwise receive to generate housing and smart growth development we desperately need in the strategic locations where we clearly want it. If you’re willing to wait until the market changes — which could easily be 10, 15, 20 years, or to accept low/mid-rise development at Metro sites that will stand for 50-60 years, then this isn’t the best or most appropriate solution. That’s really the choice. The rest of the same, tired talking points aren’t really relevant to the discussion.

As you know, Friends of White Flint advocated for passage of this bill, and we hope the Council overrides this veto.