Thursday, June 04, 2009

Coming Soon(ish): Wheaton Town Square



Spurred on by what they've deemed the "success of Silver Spring redevelopment" and "stagnation" in their own front lawn, Montgomery County's Wheaton Redevelopment Program (WRP) is gearing up to issue a solicitation for offers for a large-scale, mixed-use Town Square project on what is currently a collection of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) bus bays next to the Wheaton Metro.

"We were hoping [to get the solicitation out] this summer and we think that maybe that's still possible. Once we go the WMATA board, it'll much more realistic to put together a schedule," said WRP Director, Rob Klein.

"We'll go to the community before and show them the elements that we're considering. But, by and large, what we're aiming to do is keep the requirements to a minimum, so that we hire a development team based upon their expertise, their experience, their wherewithal and the creativity they’ve shown with past projects. Then, like Silver Spring, [they'll] work with the stakeholders."

Using recommendations made by the International Downtown Association (IDA) as a model, the WRP is aiming to redevelop the County-owned, triangular site (bounded by Georgia Avenue, Viers Mill Road and Reedie Drive), along with other area parking lots and few select private parcels “that make sense for redevelopment,” via a public-private partnership. Though the ultimate mix of uses won’t be settled upon until a developer is selected, the WRP’s tentative vision sees the Town Square as a new arts and retail destination, ala Silver Spring’s revitalized downtown; part and parcel with that will be a new Metro-centric location for the Wheaton Regional Library.

"[The library] relocation was recommended by the [IDA], instead of proceeding with the renovation of the existing library…If the library comes downtown, the recommendation was that an arts venue be part of it. Another thing we’ve thrown out is possibly an auditorium will be part of it. All that would have to be tied into a massive redevelopment solicitation,” said Klein. The idea of shuttering the current library, however, has drawn the ire of many local residents and a campaign is now underway to preclude the possibility of a move.

Nonetheless, area bibliophiles have plenty of time before their books are due once and for all, as there’s no definitive timeline for the project as it now stands - but not for want of effort by WRP. Program staff will appear before the WMATA board this week to seek a “letter of understanding” from the agency with regard to use of the bus bay parcel.

Furthermore, the Town Square’s fate is linked to that of the Wheaton Sector Plan, first drafted in 1990 and now under revision, that goes before the Montgomery County Planning Board later this summer. According to Klein, changes to the updated Plan will “work in tandem” with the goals of his team, as they select sites for redevelopment, deal with issues like the library and court interest from the development community.

“This [project] is a strange hodgepodge and I have not seen one like it before…This is going to be tricky,” he said.

13 comments:

Akil on Jun 4, 2009, 8:01:00 PM said...

It would be cool if they build it .....if it doesn't get shot down by local business and neighbors who complain about any change

Anonymous said...

It sort of looks like a fancy pants mountain retreat met and fell in love with a monster parking garage. This design LACKS ALL HUMAN SCALE and the towers of power don't reflect the neighborhood at all. It looks like any old big lifeless building complex without a sole.

Akil on Jun 5, 2009, 8:13:00 AM said...

Good

Daniel said...

@Anonymous
It's hard to take your comments seriously when you refer to six story brick buildings as "towers of power". In the rendering, the buildings look like they are trying for a mixed traditional/contemporary look. Hardly the death star...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Akil on Jun 5, 2009, 10:24:00 AM said...

wow

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brian said...

"There presence"? Looks like anonymous is only working with a 3rd grade education which explains the endless supply of worthless commentary.

Evan on Jun 6, 2009, 4:21:00 PM said...

These look like preliminary renderings, which is definitely a good thing. I think that if this project goes through, it won't have that pomo 90s look to it. They'll either go for a modern design (Konterra), or neo-traditional (Rockville Town Center).

youngk on Jun 7, 2009, 4:32:00 PM said...

Where will the buses go with this development I think that they should be the closest things to the metro since it was built with the buses and trains in mind.

Anonymous said...

Don't tell me the porn store will have to move! What will Wheaton be without it?

Anonymous said...

These are just illustrative drawings prepared by the county to get potential developers interested in the site. These are not the actual development plans folks!

Anonymous said...

someone should start making "MOVE the library" signs

 

DCmud - The Urban Real Estate Digest of Washington DC Copyright © 2008 Black Brown Pop Template by Ipiet's Blogger Template