Thursday, July 29, 2010

WMATA Gives B.F. Saul OK to Develop Near Wheaton Metro

Already a major player in the District's real estate development game, B.F. Saul will now head a team of developers charged with bringing a mixed-use project near the Wheaton Metro station to life. This is just another materialization of a well-established effort by WMATA and its Director of Real Estate Steven Goldin to promote increased density, mass-transit-directed residential, retail, and office space through the Metro's Joint Development Program. "Selection of the B.F. Saul team for the Wheaton redevelopment project mirrors the successful strategy Montgomery County employed with Silver Spring," Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett said. The parcel is part of 10 that were offered up as development opportunities just last January.

The new development will certainly help address many of goals set out by Wheaton Central Business District and Vicinity Sector Plan, including their hopes to: "Reinvigorate Wheaton’s downtown by creating a walkable community with a distinct identity; create a vibrant mix of jobs and housing; design quality public spaces inviting to pedestrians; and foster an environmentally sustainable community." Sounds delightful. Developers will also be expected to do all of the above while "preserving Wheaton’s ethnic diversity." The original plan was laid out in 1990, before the red line had surfaced in Wheaton. Since 2006 the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) has taken it upon themselves to update the plan; the augmented plan is to be unveiled at a Montgomery Planning Board public hearing today.

While Metro has successfully completed a total of 21 transit oriented development projects so far, including notable Maryland-based developments such as Bethesda Metro Center, Grosvenor, Twinbrook and Wheaton (east), others like Greenbelt Venture's plans around the Greenbelt stations have wallowed in the rubble of inaction for years; just this year plans set for the area surrounding the Largo station were put on hold after the group of developers filed for bankruptcy.

In an effort to make this 8.2 acres only one working part of a more comprehensive and expansive redevelopment of downtown Wheaton, B.F. Saul will look to cooperate with existing local businesses and land owners such as the Westfield Wheaton Shopping Center to peacefully incorporate the new projects into the established community.

Wheaton was listed by Governor Martin O'Malley as one of the initial projects in a newly unveiled state Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) program, which will continue to encourage similar developments by bolstering them with funding, tax credits and other financial incentives and tools.

B.F. Saul will spearhead a team that includes Silver Spring-based Torti Gallas and Partners Inc. as lead design architect, as well as Rockville-based Loiederman Soltesz Associates Inc. as civil engineers, responsible for levelheadedly carrying out the architectural plans.

The Wheaton project will be the beneficiary of $200,000 in planning funds, compliments of the deep-pocketed Maryland Transportation Department.

Wheaton, Maryland real estate development news


Daniel Trager said...

Horrible design plan. Their idea for devolving Triangle lane is horrible. It looks as if their idea of redevelopment is tantamount to raizing the surrounding old office buildings and low rent shops across the street from the metro bus lot. The only reason Wheaton has kept a shred of it's cultural identity is due to the relatively low cost to operate small businesses, when compared to Rockville, Kensington, Bethesda or Downtown Silver Spring.

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