Friday, December 03, 2010

Federal Realty's Mid-Pike Plaza to Rival JBG's NoBe

Earlier this month, Federal Realty's plans for "Mid-Pike Plaza" passed under the noses of the Montgomery County Development Review Committee. Apparently, it passed the sniff test; but unfortunately it takes a lot more than that to get development projects approved and rolling in Montgomery County. The development site spans 24.38 acres to the west of Rockville Pike and just north of Old Georgetown Road. Developers have plans big enough to warrant the massive site, calling for a whopping total of 1,725 residential units when all is said and constructed. Residents will be joined by roughly 300,000 s.f. of retail, over a million square feet of office space, a 125-key hotel, and a carbon imprint of 4,145 parking spaces (all structurally built). It's yet another sign that White Flint is destined to become drastically denser in less than a decade.

Being still in the wee hours of the project's preliminary planning life-cycle, drawings, courtesy of architect Tim Mount at Street-Works are are rather sketchy (pun intended) and offer only a distant perspective. This fuzziness cannot be attributed to lack of a steady hand, but is rather typical of the master planning stage in which details are scarce, and reveals the wiggle room necessary for developers and architects to successfully navigate the often tumultuous and always tedious planning process. But that process is getting easier and more efficient thanks to the newly approved White Flint Sector Plan, says Federal Realty developer Evan Goldman. "Our Sketch Plan follows almost exactly to the White Flint Sector Plan, which the citizens were already highly involved with," Goldman explains, "making the process a lot quicker, and minimizing disputes." Goldman and Federal Realty will present their Sketch Plan to the Montgomery County Planning Board next month, and hope to submit their Site and Preliminary Plan applications shortly after.

If the market continues to cooperate, and the planning process goes smoothly, Goldman believes they'll be ready to break ground in 2012. He thinks that would place Mid Pike Plaza as the front runner of major developments currently in the pipeline. LCOR has already broken ground on the new U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) building at North Bethesda Center/White Flint Metro, and JBG's North Bethesda Phase II should follow right behind Mid Pike Plaza. ProMark's North Bethesda Gateway also looks to get in on the action in the coming years.

Phase I of Mid Pike Plaza will land White Flint three new buildings: one high-rise residential, a small office atop retail, and a low-rise residential over retail. "These will anchor our Main Street and usher in improved streetscapes and a community park," promises Goldman. The second phase will complete the streetscapes, the street grid and public space for the retail plaza, and several more pockets of public green spaces, while future phases will proceed to fill in the block with larger buildings, one by one. As for architectural details, those will emerge later. The next step is "to meet with Street-Works in order to create design guidelines for our main storefronts and streetscapes," says Goldman.

With Bethesda having been the economic engine of the region for the last 20 to 30 years, many of local developers concur with Goldman's assessment of White Flint as the "logical next step" for development. "We're setting up a really good street grid, with all sustainable buildings, great pedestrian friendly roads, and great transit," says Goldman. The blank slate that is the area surrounding the White Flint metro will enable developers' smart growth ambitions to play out on a large scale; and it seems that developers and the community are taking this precedent seriously. Aside from the many proposed development projects, the newly established special taxing districting in North Bethesda will also help improve the area's infrastructure: a ten percent commercial property tax increase as part of the new Sector Plan will help finance $208 million in construction during its lifespan. With Montgomery County officials projecting that new growth in the White Flint area could bring in as much as $6.8 billion, it seems like White Flint is ready to take the torch from Bethesda whether they want to pass it over or not.

Montgomery County, MD Real Estate Development News


Michael said...

Interesting but why not got higher? The location is within walking distance of a metro station (two if you include Twinbrook). If you're going to build up the NoBe or WhiFli, NoCheCha, SoRo) area why not make it an architectual destination? If development is going to take place between WF Mall and Montrose Road why not think bigger?

Anonymous said...

"Apparently, it passed the sniff test; but unfortunately it takes a lot more than that to get development projects approved and rolling in Montgomery County."

Unfortunately? Is that a joke? Sure hope so....

Agree that White Flint is a logical step for smart growth now that Silver Spring has taken off and "inside the beltway" is 100% humming along in MoCo.

Anonymous said...

I hope they do better than JBG did across from White Flint. JBG blew it, as far as I'm concerned. Talk about an uninviting "main street" concept. Driving past it, going south on the pike, its like driving past it I see cement walls....hardly inviting me in

Anonymous said...

I wonder how all this Montgomery County development will impact on Metro's Red Line peak rush hour capacity.

Anonymous said...

WTF is nobe dawg? WTF do u insist on making up these stupid acronyms. Is it just too difficult to say north Bethesda???

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