Redevelopment Stories – 2010-2012

May 2012

Parking Lot 13 – The County Council approved the FY13-18 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget for the Wheaton Redevelopment Program. The $66.2 million CIP provides for a multi-user government building on Parking Lot 13 to include a new headquarters for the Montgomery Regional Office of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC); underground or structured parking; and a Town Square at least 1/3 the size of Parking Lot 13. The CIP also includes a study to evaluate the financial feasibility of redeveloping the Metro bus bay site; a parking study to include the effects of redevelopment on parking supply and demand and planning studies that review potential models for creating local jobs, job training and small business protection.

The CIP directs the County and M-NCPPC to update the County Council on the project’s progress once they have completed their respective programs of requirements, i.e. facility needs for the proposed project. This update is scheduled before the full Council at its January 29, 2013 session, which is open to the public.View the Wheaton Redevelopment CIP here.

Construction progresses on The Exchange – Developed by Patriot Realty Co. and Foulger Pratt Development, this 880,000 square foot, $88 million dollar project is directly across from the Wheaton Metro. It features a new 59,000 square foot Safeway with 486 residential apartments above. With the exterior shell of the Safeway Store well underway, the full building exterior is expected to be completed by summer 2013. Safeway is anticipated to open late summer 2013 with the residential project completed in fall 2013.

Allaire at Wheaton (10914 Georgia Ave.) – Washington Property Company is currently constructing a 6-story, 232-unit residential apartment on the former site of the First Baptist Church of Wheaton. Concrete operations are in full swing and the building will be coming out of the ground shortly. The project should be fully completed by March 2014.

11141 Georgia Avenue – Acquired by Lowe Enterprises, this 7-story commercial office building and will convert into residential apartments. In September, the Planing Board approved the Preliminary Plan and Site Plan for this project – a 14-story residential apartment building with approximately 195 units. Lowe is currently finalizing entitlements and recording the Record Plat. Construction is anticipated to begin early 2013.

BB&T Bank – The Georgia Avenue and Veirs Mill Road operations will consolidate into a new branch office to be located at the intersection of University Boulevard and Valley View Avenue, across from Westfield Wheaton Mall. The plans call for a 4,080 square foot bank branch with a detached 4-lane drive through canopy and 23 parking spaces. The project received Preliminary and Site Plan approval in February. Record plan recordation is anticipated in early December and building permits are anticipated shortly thereafter. Dependent upon weather, construction should start early 2013.

April 2012

The Montgomery County Council voted to push the public-private partnership with developer B.F. Saul and County Executive Isiah Leggett’s plans for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority bus bay site into the background.
The Council held a straw vote, and unanimously acted on the recommendation of council staff and the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee in favor of a plan for Wheaton’s downtown – that funds a headquarters for Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and a new town square on Parking Lot 13.

“The bus bays are a significant site, but they are the most challenging and expensive redevelopment site in downtown Wheaton,” Senior Legislative Analyst Jacob Sesker said. “The redevelopment of Parking Lot 13 and the town center, with an office building headquarters for Park and Planning, along with what is going on with the Safeway project, the Lowes building…will change the market downtown, and it may make getting a platform cheaper for us at some point in the future. It may not.”

Building the M-NCPPC headquarters would be a more predictable and controllable investment in Wheaton, he added. “There are far fewer unknowns when it comes to the public sector building a building that the public sector will occupy (occupy alone and presumably own) than there are with a complex public-private partnership that involves WMATA and involves several pieces of property and several different conveyances,” Sesker said.

Although Sesker told the council repeatedly that his proposal does not preclude development of the WMATA site or partnership with B.F. Saul, Department of General Services Director David Dise said that “without the platform, there will be no possibility of enticing a private sector tenant or a federal tenant” because of the timeframe. But the council would rather see “feet on the ground” in Wheaton sooner than later, and perhaps wait for market conditions to improve before working with a private developer on the WMATA site.

August 2011

B.F. Saul Co. – The County and WMATA, assisted by Jones, Lang, LaSalle, a global real estate services firm, continue to analyze B.F. Saul Co.’s proforma statements for the Wheaton’s New Downtown Concept Plan. The County will be proceeding with additional engineering to better determine the project’s likely costs. This information is necessary before a General Development Agreement can be executed. Two draft concept images, previously shared with WRAC, were posted on the Wheaton’s New Downtown website. The purpose of the images was to illustrate the placement of structures, their function (office, retail, etc.) and their relative scale.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) – At the July WRAC meeting, Councilmember Marc Elrich presented a case for the implementation for Bus Rapid Transit in Montgomery County, citing positive environmental impacts and increasing mobility. From a cost perspective, implementing BRT would be substantially less expensive and less disruptive than light or heavy rail systems. As envisioned, BRT would operate on 120-150 miles of dedicated paths built in the County’s existing roadway network. If the aesthetics, functionality, and affordability of BRT are properly addressed, Mr. Elrich believes that BRT is capable of creating a shift in many County residents’ perceptions of public transit, from a needs based to a choice-based system of transportation.

Capital Improvements Program (CIP) – Preparations have begun for the next capital improvement budget cycle. The CIP is prepared biannually in even-numbered fiscal years and covers a 6-year span. The Wheaton Redevelopment CIP will focus on moving the Public-Private concept proposed for Parking Lot 13 and the WMATA Bus bays forward.

Ennalls-Price Roadway Connection – To both facilitate the Wheaton’s New Downtown development, and to implement the proposed Sector Plan grid connection between Ennalls Avenue and Price Avenue, DGS contracted with the engineering firm of Loiederman Soltesz Associate to undertake initial engineering to assure the feasibility of this roadway. Despite grade challenges, this road connection is feasible.

Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 11-01 – Introduced at the June 13, County Council session, this ZTA addresses potential impacts of the Commercial-Residential Zone on transitional areas, focusing on levels of density, height restriction and permitted uses. The Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee (PHED) is assessing this legislation. That assessment may address possible alternatives methods for crediting public amenities. After the Councils August recess, PHED work sessions on the ZTA will continue in September.

Wheaton Sector Plan/Design Guidelines – On July 19, the County Council held a public hearing for the Wheaton Sector Plan. The majority of speakers spoke in support of the Plans overall goals, highlighting revitalization of the downtown core through transit-oriented, mixed-use development. Areas of concern included proposed zoning for transitional neighborhoods, watershed preservation and improvement, and accessory apartments. The Council’s Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee (PHED) will begin work sessions on the Plan in September.

Mid-County Regional Services Center – Natalie Cantor retired from service as the Director of the Mid-County Regional Services Center on June 30, 2011. Roylene Roberts has been appointed Acting Director. Ms Roberts is the Chief of the Department of Housing and Community Affairs’ Revitalization Division. The County Executive has recommended Ana Lopez van Balen for appointment as the new Director for Mid County. Her appointment is subject to confirmation by the County Council. Ms. Lopez van Balen served as Executive Director of Community Bridges, a leadership and empowerment organizations for low-income girls.

Westfield Wheaton Mall – announced that it is in the process of obtaining permits for construction of the Costco facility. Westfield anticipates Costco opening in late summer 2012. Sears Outlet Store has opened in the former Office Depot location. Panera Bread opened in the Mall on July 15 and Elevation Burger is expected to open soon as well. Westfield also announced that H & M will open a 2-level store in the Mall in November 2011. The Special Exception Hearing for the Costco Fueling Station, scheduled for September 22, 2011, has been postponed by the applicant.

March 2011

B.F. Saul is continuing the concept planning process, going back and forth with what they can get. Residential plans are being impacted by parking limitations. Office, hotel and retail still in the plan – only residential is in question. B.F. Saul is still trying to get more information on the Parking Lot 13 part of the project. Also asking what the Wheaton community will support.

BB&T Bank project approved by County Council on March 1. Community still voicing concerns about the CR Zone, that the CR Zone will nullify current plans and protections. Construction not scheduled to start in the next few years.

Costco Warehouse construction may start in about 1 year.

Washington Property Co – hosting a public meeting March 21 at 7 pm about development plans for the First Baptist Church of Wheaton property. Patriot Realty purchased the Safeway property. Construction beginning this summer is possible.

Avalon Bay – work on the property is stopping and the property (most of the block on Bueridge Avenue with the BB&T Bank at top of hill) is being put on the market after much starting and stopping in the last 5 years.

Wheaton Sector Plan – Planning Board had its last Sector Plan work session on Feb. 17, where modifications to the CR Zone were discussed. Approval by the Planning Board for transmittal to County Council anticipated for March 17. Formal submission to Council anticipated on April 15 at which point Council will begin its review process.

February 2011

At the last WRAC meeting B.F. Saul attended and reported working on components of the concept plan including ideas for blocking e.g. what could go where. Phase 1 will be the bus bay area. Community outreach is ongoing. B.F. Saul has a relationship with Cornell University’s Capstone Program and is allowing students to submit idea.

Wheaton Sector Plan – had 5th and 6th work sessions and one more is planned for February 24 to tie up loose ends and revisit/wrap up discussion on the CR Zone. Tentative timeline includes adoption the sector plan in 2012.

November 2010

Wheaton’s New Downtown Community Workshop

Around 200 community members attended the November 17 Community Workshop for Wheaton’s New Downtown, held in the auditorium at Crossway Community, 3015 Upton Drive, Kensington, MD 20895. So many people participated in laying out a dynamic, detailed vision for Wheaton, building on ideas from the past, as well as bringing fresh ideas to the table. The development team of B.F. Saul; architects Torti Gallas and Partners, Inc.; civil engineers Loiederman Soltesz Associates, Inc. and Chesapeake Public Strategies will shape a project concept plan to introduce to the community next Spring.

The development team will continue to meet with community members and groups to seek feedback. Their public outreach activities will culminate in another community workshop in the spring of 2011, where they will present their concept plan for Wheaton.

July 2010

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) today announced that a development team led by B.F. Saul has been selected to develop mixed-use projects in downtown Wheaton and the Wheaton Metrorail station area. In addition to B.F. Saul, the development team consists of architect, Torti Gallas and Partners, Inc.; and civil engineers, Loiederman Soltesz Associates, Inc. “Selection of the B.F. Saul team for the Wheaton redevelopment project mirrors the successful strategy Montgomery County employed with Silver Spring,” said Leggett. “This highly qualified development team will work with community stakeholders to develop and execute a redevelopment concept that will change the face of downtown Wheaton.”

With only 8.2 acres of land publicly owned, the project will entail leveraging private property, as well as integrating with existing businesses such as Westfield Wheaton. The development team will work with Montgomery County, Metro and the Wheaton community to develop a project concept plan. Montgomery County and Metro anticipate that such outreach will lead to an agreement that will grant development rights to the B.F. Saul team.

B.F. Saul has been active in the Washington metropolitan area for more than 100 years. The firm has experience in ownership, development, and construction of commercial real estate. It also has large property management, leasing, and insurance departments. The B.F. Saul Company and related entities own and manage over $1.5 billion in real estate development, comprising over twelve million square feet. The majority of the properties are located in the Washington, D.C. area.

Wheaton was recently announced by Governor Martin O’Malley as one of the first projects in a new state Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) program, which supports good examples of TOD with financial tools, funding, tax credits and other incentives. Thus far, the Maryland Department of Transportation has supported the Wheaton TOD efforts with $200,000 in planning funds.

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