Beer Garden latest concept announced for Pike & Rose

Yesterday, BethesdaNow.com reported the latest concept announced for Pike & Rose: a beer garden.  Coming from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, parent company of Rustico & Evening Star in Alexandria and Churchkey and Birch & Barley downtown, the concept will combine a “world class beer program” with a “distinct culinary program to match,” according to a press release.  “The restaurant will go in ‘Upper Muse Alley,’ designed to be one of the main pedestrian open spaces in the development. It’s set to open in mid-2015 with the rest of the retail in that area of the project,” says BethesdaNow’s Aaron Kraut.

This project joins six concepts already announced for the first phase of Pike & Rose, opening this fall.  They include Roti, Del Frisco’s and Protein Bar.  La Madeline, relocated from elsewhere on the property, City Sports, Sport & Health, iPic Movie Theaters and a Strathmore music venue are also part of the first phase.  The entertainment anchor of the second phase has also been announced – a Pinstripes bowling alley.

Find more at Pike & Rose’s website, rePIKEalization.com – and come talk to them at our event on Monday night!

 

An update on Pike and Rose

The shopping center at Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike is slated to get a facelift. Used with permission from Federal Realty Investment Trust.

The shopping center at Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike is slated to get a facelift. Used with permission from Federal Realty Investment Trust.

As mentioned before, much of the October Implementation Advisory Committee meeting focused on an amendment to the plan for Federal Realty’s Pike and Rose development. The first phase of Pike and Rose is well underway, with residences slated to open in the spring of next year and retail in the fall. Additionally, earlier this month the Planning Board approved plans for phase 2 of the project. However, neither of these plans included the building at the corner of Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike (where the Starbucks and Bank of America are located).

Shopping center at the corner of Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike today. Photo by the author.

Shopping center at the corner of Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike today. Photo by the author.

Federal Realty is not planning on redeveloping this part of their land for 10 to 15 years. However, they did not want to leave the building as is for many years while new buildings spring up around it. Therefore, they are proposing a new façade, outdoor seating areas by Starbucks and Chipotle (which is moving to where Serenberry used to be), landscaping improvements and better pedestrian circulation for this area.

Shopping center with an improved facade. Used with permission from Federal Realty Investment Trust.

Shopping center with an improved facade. Used with permission from FRIT.

The plan also includes adding about 1,000 square feet to the area behind the future Chipotle location to hide the trash/loading area from view on Old Georgetown Road. Federal Realty’s Evan Goldman explained that this will be a small retail shop.

Back of the shopping center today. Used with permission from Federal Realty Investment Trust.

Back of the shopping center today. Used with permission from FRIT.

One member of the IAC raised the concern that this amendment does not include enough pedestrian and bicycle improvements, a crucial component of the White Flint Sector Plan. Goldman explained that there will ultimately be three pedestrian/bicycle entrances to the area, notably one at the corner of Old Georgetown and Rockville Pike (currently, a fence restricts access to the area from most of the street). This pedestrian crossing will continue to be marked in front of the Bank of America drive-through tellers. The light poles in the sidewalk will also be removed, and there will be a broader concrete area at the corner to create more room for both pedestrians and cyclists. Once Muse Alley (a pedestrian only street) opens, there will be even more access to the site.

Ultimately, Federal Realty and the community compromised. The entrances to the site will be wider than originally planned, ultimately going to eight feet wide. The fence, which some people thought should be removed, will stay as a way to control pedestrian traffic while the big surface parking lot that is currently there remains very active. However, the fence will be moved slightly to improve drivers’ views of pedestrians when they are turning on to Old Georgetown Road from the Pike.

Once FRIT incorporates changes agreed upon at this meeting  to their plan, they will go before the Planning Board. The date for this has not yet been set. Federal Realty hopes to start the project in January, aiming to complete the improvements by May or June of 2014.

A small retail addition will be added. Used with permission from FRIT.

A small retail addition will be added. Used with permission from FRIT.

Pike + Rose moves closer to completion

Grand Park Avenue, one of several new streets in Pike + Rose. All photos by the author.

Today, the Montgomery County Planning Board reviews plans for a second phase of Pike + Rose. Meanwhile, the first phase of the new urban neighborhood at Rockville Pike and Montrose Road inches closer to completion.

When finished, Pike + Rose will have housing, offices, shops and restaurants, a high-end movie theatre, and a hotel, along with several public open spaces. A redevelopment of a 1960’s-era strip mall, it’ll be multiple times the size of developer Federal Realty’s other projects in the area, Bethesda Row and Rockville Town Square.

According to Evan Goldman, Federal Realty’s vice president of development, the first phase will start opening next year. In the meantime, let’s visit the construction site.

Bricks going in at PerSei.

Back in July, the first of three buildings in the first phase, a 174-unit, five-story apartment building called PerSei, topped out. Units here will start renting late next spring, Goldman says. You can see cream-colored brick going in on one side.

Like many new apartment buildings, PerSei has been designed to look like a block of smaller buildings. The windows on Old Georgetown Road and Grand Park Avenue, one of several new streets, are more modern, with large panes and less ornamentation. But around the corner, the windows have smaller panes and more detail, almost like those on a warehouse.

11800 Grand Park Avenue. The movie theatre and music venue will be on the right-hand side.

Across the street, 11800 Grand Park Avenue, an office building, has topped out as well. It’ll open in fall 2014, along with 150,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space in both buildings. 75% of the retail is already leased and will include a high-end iPic movie theatre, a music venue operated by Strathmore, several restaurants, and a Sport & Health Club.

Pallas (left) and 11800 Grand Park Avenue seen from Old Georgetown Road.

Next door, an 18-story apartment tower called Pallas has just reached four stories. Not surprisingly, it won’t open until the winter of 2015. I’m guessing that gray box in the middle has something to do with parking, but I’m not sure.

PerSei with the strip mall in the foreground.

The new buildings form a striking contrast against the remaining strip mall buildings. While the main building will be completely torn down in Pike + Rose’s second phase, this smaller building closer to the intersection of Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road could stick around for between 7 and 10 years, Goldman says.

Located on a prominent corner and closest to the White Flint Metro station, this is arguably the most valuable portion of the Pike + Rose site, which is why Federal Realty may want to hold out on developing it. In the meantime, the developer will give this building a new façade and landscaping to help it blend in with the new construction.

If the Planning Board approves the second phase today, what’s called Phase 2A could start construction next year and portions could open within another two years.

Today it’s a parking lot, but it will be Pike + Rose’s future second phase.

With a new street grid and an urban park open, “You’ll have a neighborhood by 2016,” says Goldman. “We’ll have created the sense of place.” The rest of the second phase, along with a future third phase, don’t have a completion date and will be built out as the market demands.

Crossposted at Greater Greater Washington.

White Flint Implementation Committee Meeting Next Monday, 9/9/13

After a summer break, the White Flint Implementation Advisory Committee has its next meeting coming up on Monday, September 9th.  Scheduled for 7pm in the multi-purpose room at Shriver Aquatic Center, the agenda includes updates on projects by Gables, FRIT and White Flint View as well as an update on Bus Rapid Transit and the Woodglen Drive improvements.

If you can’t make the meeting, stay tuned – we’ll have a recap here next week!

Progress continues at Pike + Rose

Pike + Rose from Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard

Construction at Pike + Rose seen from Old Georgetown Road. Photo by the author.

Work continues on Pike + Rose, the new neighborhood being built at the soon-to-be-former Mid-Pike Plaza shopping center at Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road. The project already looks very different compared to our last visit to the construction site last month.

1 of the 3 buildings in the project’s first phase, a 174-unit mid-rise apartment building dubbed PerSei, appears to have topped out. Meanwhile, 11800 Grand Park Avenue, an office building, has almost reached its full height, but Pallas, a high-rise building with 300 apartments, has just gotten off the ground. The 3 buildings will share 150,000 square feet of retail, including ground-floor shops and restaurants, and a parking garage.

Developer Federal Realty Investment Trust plans to complete the rest of Pike + Rose in 3 phases over the next 5 years. When finished, the project will contain an additional 430,000 square feet of retail, 1,500 new residences, 1.1 million square feet of offices and a luxury hotel.

Now that 2 of the buildings are close to topping out, we can start to see how they will relate to each other, to the street, and to White Flint as a whole.

Pike + Rose Phase 1 From Across Old Georgetown Road

11800 Grand Park Avenue (left) and PerSei (right) seen from the car dealership across Old Georgetown Road. Photo by the author.

In keeping with the White Flint Sector Plan, the buildings at Pike + Rose come right up to Old Georgetown Road, which is envisioned as an urban street with wide sidewalks, bike paths, and restaurants with outdoor dining. “I’ve got 6 leases signed with restaurants on Old Georgetown Road,” said Evan Goldman, vice president of development at Federal Realty, at a recent meeting about rebuilding the street. “I want outdoor cafes and street trees.”

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation has been reluctant to make changes to Old Georgetown in the near term, meaning that it may remain a cars-only zone for the indefinite future. But one day, the street and the buildings on it might look like this:

11800 grand park avenue

11800 Grand Park Avenue (left) and PerSei (right) in the future. Image from Federal Realty.

It’s still business as usual at Mid-Pike Plaza, the strip mall that Pike + Rose will eventually replace. From the parking lot, you can get another view of 11800 Grand Park Avenue, which on its lower floors will have a high-end iPic movie theatre and a live music venue operated in conjunction with Strathmore. Both of these are scheduled to open in fall 2014.

Future Office + Retail Building

11800 Grand Park Avenue, seen from the parking lot of Mid-Pike Plaza. Photo by the author.

Comparing the current photo to the rendering below, you can start to see what Grand Park Avenue will look like: a fairly narrow street lined by wide sidewalks with street trees and outdoor seating. Judging from the proportions, it might be comparable to Maryland Avenue in Rockville Town Square, another Federal Realty project.

Rendering of Pike + Rose. When finished, it'll be 5 times the size of Bethesda Row.

Roughly the same spot in the future. Rendering from Federal Realty.

It’ll be interesting to see how this project evolves over time. As I wrote last year, one of the challenges facing Pike + Rose is becoming an authentic gathering place for the community. It’s one thing to put up buildings and lay out streets, but another entirely to make a place where people will want to spend their time.

Construction at Pike + Rose Farmers' Market

New buildings at Pike + Rose rise behind the Pike Central Farm Market.

And it might happen, judging from the weekly Pike Central Farm Market held in the parking lot of Mid-Pike Plaza each Saturday. The market hosts over 40 local vendors selling everything from fresh vegetables to wine, and when Friends of White Flint had a table there 2 weeks ago, it was packed. Eventually, this market will move to one of the squares inside Pike + Rose.

The buildings and public spaces may not be done yet, but the people and activity are already here. That’s a good sign for when Pike + Rose becomes a reality.

For more photos of Pike + Rose under construction, check out this slideshow.

See Pike + Rose under construction

The future site of Pike + Rose.

When finished, Pike + Rose will be a new neighborhood 5 times the size of Bethesda Row. But for now, the 24-acre site at Rockville Pike and Montrose Parkway is doing double duty. On one side, it’s still Mid-Pike Plaza, a 1960’s-era strip mall that continues to do business. But at the end of the shopping center, where Toys ‘R’ Us used to be, it abruptly becomes a construction site.

Where Mid-Pike’s parking lot ends today, there will one day be a bustling urban street (or so we hope). The first phase of Pike + Rose, which will contain an office building, an apartment building, ground floor retail, and a movie theatre, should open next year. Eventually, the entire site will be demolished and rebuilt.

There’s nowhere in White Flint where the contrast between present and future is more pronounced. But for now, it’s just another afternoon of shopping and hanging out and Mid-Pike Plaza. Check out these photos of construction at Pike + Rose and click here to see a slideshow with more photos.

Looking into the Pike + Rose construction site. This will eventually be a new street called Grand Park Avenue.

Business as usual at Mid-Pike Plaza while its replacement rises in the background.

Friends Around Town

Your Friends have been out in the community over the last month and we’re grateful to our partners for engaging us in these fascinating opportunities.  Dan Reed and I were both panelists during a Montgomery Housing Partnership breakfast focused on social media in community engagement.

Rob with speakers

Rob Goldman (President of MHP), Brandon Jenkins (Popularise.com/Fundrise.com), Dan Reed (FoWF and JustUpThePike.com), Lindsay Hoffman (FoWF) & Evan Glass (Moderator & MHP Board Member)

Montgomery Housing Partnership’s mission is to expand and preserve affordable housing in Montgomery County – something that will become an issue in White Flint if the county truly wants to draw a younger demographic.  MHP doesn’t just advocate, they also walk the talk by “acquiring, rehabilitating, building and managing quality affordable housing.”

Friends of White Flint was very proud to be part of Coalition for Smarter Growth’s Walking Tours and Forum Series.  “White Flint: From Drag to Desirable” was the topic that kicked off this season of walking tours – and to a sold out crowd!  Nearly sixty people joined Stewart Schwartz of CSG, Nkosi Yearwood of the Planning Department, Tommy Mann from Federal Realty and me on a beautiful morning’s trek through the past, present and future of White Flint.

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Photos by Aimee Custis for Coalition for Smarter Growth

 

The tour was a great way to feel and see the differences between streets that solely car-focused, as opposed to those that consider all travelers.  Features like tree buffers, bike lanes, benches and trash cans equalize priorities among pedestrians, bikers and drivers.  Many of our main White Flint streets still have a long way to go in becoming truly walkable.

Friends of White Flint also hosted a Developer Showcase on April 30th in the Whole Foods Rockville café.  It was an opportunity for the community to browse new projects in White Flint’s future, and meet the people behind the ideas.   Paladar Latin Kitchen, Montgomery County Parks Department (Wall Park), LCOR (North Bethesda Center), Lerner Enterprises (White Flint Mall), and Federal Realty Investment Corp (Pike & Rose) were all available to chat, show their plans and share guacamole.  Friends of White Flint member Chevy Chase Land Company was also present with information about their plans for Chevy Chase Lake.

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Over 100 visitors checked out the exciting plans for White Flint and appreciated seeing the images up close.  If you weren’t able to join us that rainy morning, let us know if you’d like us to host a similar event on an upcoming evening!

Finally, Friends of White Flint has begun a monthly presence at the Pike Central Farmers Market!  Find us among the food trucks and produce and learn more about your community while you browse!

central_farm_markets_logo

 

And, wherever you see us – don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on the plans for White Flint.  We’re here to have a positive and consensus-building conversation.  Join in!

 

 

Check Out What’s Coming to White Flint!

Are you curious what’s coming to our redeveloped White Flint?  Hoping for a one-stop opportunity to see some of the latest plans?  Then join Friends of White Flint on Tuesday morning, April 30th, from 9:30-10:30am for a Showcase of Upcoming Projects.  

We’re taking over the Whole Foods cafe and giving you an opportunity to take a look at a handful of projects planned in and around the new White Flint and meet the folks behind the ideas.  This casual event will have no structured program, just come and take a look at your leisure!

Many thanks to our great friends at:

wholefoods

 

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.