Wheaton Redevelopment Update: December 2013
Montgomery County Government is moving forward with plans to redevelop Lot 13 and the Mid-County Regional Services Center in Wheaton with Stonebridge Carras/Bozzuto Development, the selected developer for the Wheaton Redevelopment Program. Two public meetings have been held in September and December 2013 to inform the public of redevelopment plans and modifications to meet the needs of all stakeholders. The County is continuing to solicit community feedback as discussions progress for the development of a contract with the developer.
In addition, tenant relocation discussions have initiated regarding tenants of the Regional Services Center building. An update on parking mitigation and other construction related issues will be discussed at a later time.
Wheaton Redevelopment Program News: December 2013
Wheaton Facade Improvement Program
From Henriot St. Gerard, Chair, Wheaton Urban District Advisory Group
The Wheaton Redevelopment Program is reviving and revising its Façade Improvement Program. Through this program the County intends to actively partner with Wheaton’s commercial property owners and businesses to improve and reinvest in their properties – and do so in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. The Program will reimburse up to 75% of approved costs for façade improvements. In return, property owners will grant an easement to the County to ensure the façade remains and is maintained for a specified period of time.
The scope of the program has been expanded from previous efforts. The revised program supports a greater degree of façade improvement and encourages the use of environmentally-friendly materials. Façade improvements can include surface treatments, repointing/repair, lighting, signage, canopies, glazing, plantings and greenery, and entryways. A significant change from the prior program is that participants, rather than the County, will be responsible for their façade’s design and construction.
The Facade Improvement Program is being revived due to a $350,000 Community Legacy Grant awarded to the Wheaton Redevelopment Program by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. The majority of grant funds – $225,000 – will be used to support façade improvements. In addition, the County Executive has decided to re-allocate an additional $350,000 from the Wheaton Redevelopment Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to match the Grant. This provides a total of $575,000 available for façade improvements through the Program.
Councilmembers Divided on Wheaton Redevelopment Approach: May 2013
Some County Councilmembers want to move forward with the Park and Planning headquarters, separate from other redevelopment in Wheaton; others want the headquarters to be part of an overall redevelopment strategy. Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Valerie Ervin joined Council President Nancy Navarro in supporting a “split project” approach in which Park and Planning could move forward with its plans for a new headquarters building south of Reedie Drive, separate from the redevelopment possibilities being explored for other parcels of county land in Wheaton. Park and Planning prefers this option because it wants responsibility for its own building, according to Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier.
Councilmembers George Leventhal, Marc Elrich and Nancy Floreen argued in favor of a “developer proposal option” backed by County Executive Isiah Leggett. The county would solicit proposals from the private sector for redeveloping multiple projects in Wheaton together, including the Park and Planning headquarters building.
The council must also decide on the possibility of moving the county’s Department of Permitting Services and Department of Environmental Protection to Wheaton. Although Leggett recommended against the move earlier this year because of its high costs, the request for proposal process he supports as part of the second option might make a multi-agency building a more cost-effective and feasible option.
If the county does pursue the developer proposal option, it would put out to bid three publicly-owned parcels of land in Wheaton: the Mid-County Regional Services Center site at 2424 Reedie Drive, Parking Lot 13 and Parking Lot 34 (located at 2510 Ennalls Ave). Added to these would be 8787 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring, where the Park and Planning headquarters is currently located. This property would be the one to attract developers, but for construction to occur there, Park and Planning would need to first relocate to a new headquarters in Wheaton.
With 8787 Georgia Avenue as the valuable land chip, the Reedie Drive site does not need to be part of this bundle, and letting Park and Planning manage it separately would help simplify the process. The full council will consider these options for Wheaton redevelopment at a worksession on Monday, May 13. The council must vote on these amendments and the M-NCPPC headquarters in the county’s CIP budget before the end of May.
Wheaton Redevelopment Update: Different Site Considered for Park and Planning Headquarters: April 2013
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission is still on track to move its headquarters from Silver Spring to downtown Wheaton, but perhaps not to Parking Lot 13 as previously proposed. Instead, Park and Planning is looking across the street, to take over the site currently occupied by the Mid-County Regional Services Center at 2424 Reedie Dr. in Wheaton.
In this case, Montgomery County likely would receive the Park and Planning headquarters site at 8787 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring, in a land swap, said Greg Ossont, deputy director of the Department of General Services.
Leggett: $67 Million More Would Be Needed to Move County Agencies to Wheaton
The County Council envisioned a “multi-user government building” in Wheaton, and discussions this past year about the new headquarters building have included plans to move county agencies from leased space in Rockville to Wheaton. But constructing additional floors on the proposed Park and Planning headquarters to house the county’s Dept of Permitting Services and the Dept of Environmental Protection would cost an estimated $67 million more than the $65 million already planned for the project in the county budget, according to a memo County Executive Isiah Leggett wrote to the County Council.
Park and Planning estimates that its new headquarters will cost approximately $59 million, according to the project description form submitted in March 2013. The project description form says that the building will include 132,000 sq ft of office space for the M-NCPPC headquarters and 10,000 sq ft for the regional service center occupants. The building may also include spaces for private commercial use.
Glenmont Enterprise Zone Bill Clears the House of Delegates: March 2013
The legislation goes next to the Maryland State Senate. The Maryland House of Delegates passed legislation Thursday afternoon that would designate Glenmont as an enterprise zone and make certain tax credits available for area businesses. View website.
If approved, Glenmont would become the 4th enterprise zone in the County, joining Wheaton, Takoma Park and Olde Towne in Gaithersburg.
The Montgomery County Department of Economic Development is working on an application to submit to the state regarding the Glenmont Enterprise Zone, and residents will have an opportunity to comment on the draft application at a March 27 public hearing.
Wheaton Redevelopment Update: County Council and Executive Administration to Discuss Wheaton Redevelopment Plans: March 2013
After postponements in February and March of discussions about Wheaton redevelopment between the Montgomery County Council and the executive administration, the discussion scheduled for March 12 will be a closed session to consider potential real estate issues. The county has yet to announce a developer for the Park and Planning headquarters building coming to Wheaton’s downtown area.
The redevelopment plan approved by the council in 2012 envisions a town square and an office building on Lot 13 with ground-floor retail. The Montgomery Planning Department would share the space with other county agencies.
Town of Kensington News: Design Guidelines Approved by Planning Board: March 2013
On March 7 the Montgomery County Planning Board approved the Kensington Design Guidelines as endorsed by the Revitalization Committee and the Kensington Town Council. These Guidelines are tools to be used by interested developers and property owners who considering a new project Kensington. A copy may be viewed here.
The Town’s Design Guidelines Task Force is currently working on an appendix to the County’s version that will further customize the building standards to suit the dynamics of Kensington. An update will be given by Councilmember Furman on March 9 at the Town Meeting.
Wheaton Redevelopment Update: County Drops Bus Bay Feasibility Study for Wheaton Redevelopment: January 2013
The Montgomery County Council had allocated money for the study in the FY2013 budget, but now will not proceed with a feasibility study for redeveloping the bus bay area in Wheaton, in the triangle between Reedie Drive, Georgia Avenue and Veirs Mill Road.
Last year, the Montgomery County Council approved $650,000 for various studies as part of the Wheaton redevelopment package, including the bus bay feasibility study. The study’s inclusion in the budget came after the council rejected a proposal for private developer B.F. Saul to build a platform over the bus bay – a proposal that County Executive Isiah Leggett had supported. The council instead chose a plan that focused on a new headquarters for the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) on Lot 13.
The bus bay feasibility study had left the door open for future redevelopment on the triangle piece of land owned by the Washington Metropolitan Transit Area Authority. The Council’s senior legislative analyst Jacob Sesker (who was instrumental in shaping last year’s new plan for Wheaton) had said that the bus bays were the most challenging and expensive redevelopment site in downtown Wheaton. After the redevelopment of Parking Lot 13 and the town center, the market would change, and it might make getting a platform built cheaper at some point in the future.
Small Business Assistance Program Is Open for Public Comment: January 2013
So in April 2012, the County Council Adopted Bill 6-12, Economic Development – Small Business Assistance. The Bill directs the County’s Department of Economic Development to develop a program to assist certain small businesses in the County who are adversely impacted by a County redevelopment project or a redevelopment project located on County property. Assistance can be in the form of technical assistance and/or financial assistance.
In response to the Bill’s directive, The Department of Economic Development has developed the “Small Business Assistance Program”, which will be formalized through Executive Regulations that are adopted by the County Council. Before submission to the County Council, the proposed Executive Regulations are placed in the Executive Register for review and comment by the public. Proposed Executive Regulation 24-12 Small Business Assistance Program is currently listed in the Executive Register and public comment was open until January 31, 2013.