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Sep 26 16

Planning Department Announces Calendar of October 2016 Events

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Enter the Bicycle Master Plan photo contest, ride through history on the Montgomery Modern bus tour and celebrate design excellence this October

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is pleased to announce its October 2016 calendar of events. These meetings offer opportunities for the Planning Department staff to discuss policies and engage with the public. Review the full list of events and ongoing plans and projects below, and go online to www.montgomeryplanning.org for more details.

Stay connected to us online by following Montgomery Planning Department news and information on Twitter: @montgomeryplans and like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/montgomeryplanning.

Montgomery County Planning Department Events in October 2016

October 1-7 – Get geared up for the Bicycle Master Plan Photo Contest happening through October 7. Planners are looking for the best digital photos showing cycling in Montgomery County. Top winners in five categories have the opportunity to win gift cards and have their photos become a part of the Bicycle Master Plan and be promoted online. Learn more about the contest and how you can get involved: montgomeryplanning.org/bikeplan

October 6 – The Bicycle Master Plan team will present its draft Bicycle Parking Guidelines to the Planning Board. These guidelines are intended as a resource to help developers, planners, architects and property owners provide high-quality bicycle parking in Montgomery County. The guidelines summarize the bicycle parking requirements in Section 59 of the County Code and identify recommended practices as well as practices to avoid. View the draft of the Bicycle Parking Guidelines.

October 8 – Take a ride through history and attend the Modern Montgomery Bus Tour. The Planning Department is co-sponsoring this bus tour of modern homes and buildings designed by mid-20th-century architects Deigert and Yerkes. The event, being held on Saturday, October 8 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m, is being organized with Docomomo-DC and the Potomac Valley chapter of the American Institute of Architects as part of Docomomo-United States’ national tour day, titled “Modernism in Your Backyard.” Learn more about the tour and about the Montgomery Modern program.

October 20 – The Rock Spring Master Plan Working Draft will be presented to the Planning Board. View the Planning Board Agendas and Staff Reports page to learn more about this presentation (agendas are posted 10 days prior to the meeting). Learn more about the Rock Spring Master Plan.

October 20 – Buy your ticket to Celebrate Design on October 20, an awards event co-sponsored by the Planning Department and Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The winner of the Planning Department’s second annual Design Excellence Award will be announced at the event, to be held at the Silver Spring Civic Building from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Each ticket is $35 and can be purchased online.

October 27 – The MARC Rail Communities Plan will present the preliminary plan recommendations for the area around the Boyds and Germantown MARC Stations to the community at 7 p.m. at the Upcounty Regional Services Center (12900 Middlebrook Road, Germantown, MD 20874 ). The purpose of the plan is to improve transportation connections and create placemaking opportunities in and around each station area. Learn more about the MARC Rail Communities Plan.

 

About The Montgomery County Planning Department
The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, aims to improve quality of life by conserving and enhancing the natural and built environment for current and future generations. The Planning Department creates great communities by developing master plans, reviewing applications for development and analyzing various types of information to help public officials plan for Montgomery County’s future. The Department comprises 140 staff members and provides recommendations, information, analysis and services to the Montgomery County Planning Board, the County Council, the County Executive, other government agencies and the public. Visit www.montgomeryplanning.org.

Accessibility
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission encourages the involvement and participation of all individuals in the community. In accordance with the requirements of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) will not discriminate against individuals with disabilities in its services, programs or activities. M-NCPPC works to make its facilities and materials accessible and to hold public meetings in locations that are, likewise, accessible. M-NCPPC will generally provide, upon request, appropriate aids and services and make reasonable modifications to policies and programs for persons with disabilities (e.g., large print materials, listening devices, sign language interpretation, etc.). For assistance with such requests, please contact the M-NCPPC Montgomery County Commissioners’ Office, at least a week in advance of a meeting or event, at (301) 495-4605 or at mcp-chair@mncppc-mc.org.Maryland residents can also use the free Maryland Relay Service for assistance with calls to or from hearing or speech-impaired persons; for information, go to www.mdrelay.org/ or call (866) 269-9006. Residents may also call the TTY number, (301) 495-1331, for assistance.

Jul 15 16

Cyclists To Visit White Flint 2, Rock Spring, and Grosvenor-Strathmore Planning Areas

by Christopher Peifer

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On July 29, Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson will lead a bike tour through the communities to gain a clearer understanding of planning recommendations and goals

SILVER SPRING, MD – Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson will join staff from the County Planning Department and Department of Parks, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, on a bicycle tour of the communities that are the subject of current plans.

Departing on Friday, July 29, at 10 a.m., the tour will travel mostly on low volume streets to visit the White Flint 2, Rock Spring, and Grosvenor-Strathmore plan areas. Plans for these communities are currently underway and the bike tour will highlight those areas now under consideration for improvements.

Join the bicycle tour

The public is invited to join the bike tour at the Battery Lane Urban Park in Bethesda (4960 Battery Lane, Bethesda, MD) at 10 a.m. or can meet the group at various stops along the way. The approximately 15-mile tour is designed for experienced cyclists who must bring their own bikes and helmets. The ride is designed as a point-to-point tour, beginning in Bethesda and ending in Rockville Town Center. All participants are required to sign a form for indemnification and release of all claims before they begin the bike tour.

Planners will speak about their visions for White Flint 2, Rock Spring, and the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station redevelopment at key stops along the tour route:

  • Westlake Terrace bridge over the I-270 Spur, connecting Rock Spring Park to the Montgomery Mall
  • The intersection of Fernwood Road at Democracy Boulevard
  • Redevelopment of the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station
  • The intersection of Rockville Pike and Grosvenor Lane/ Beach Drive
  • The intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard
  • The Pike and Rose development

Understand bicycle planning goals

In addition to showcasing plan area, the tour will help participants understand the goals of the Bicycle Master Plan. This Plan was launched in July 2015 to develop a high-quality, low-stress bicycle network reflecting the newest types of bikeways, such as separated and buffered bike lanes, and bicycle boulevards, as well as secure bicycle storage facilities at transit stations.

Jun 30 16

County Council Approves FY17 Work Program for Planning Department

by Christopher Peifer

New plans for the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area, Gaithersburg East and Veirs Mill Road Corridor among funded projects for fiscal year starting July 1, 2016

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has secured the County Council’s approval to proceed with an ambitious work program for fiscal year 2017 (FY17), starting July 1, 2016.

The Montgomery County Council approved the Department’s $19.5 million budget for FY17 at its meeting on Thursday, May 21, 2016. These funds support the work program for 148 employees. Highlights of major projects to be undertaken by the Planning Department in FY17 include:

Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has selected a partner for the redevelopment of the parking lot at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station. This plan will explore the transit station area’s potential to serve as a cultural node and connect with surrounding uses, including the adjacent Strathmore Music Center. It will identify possible public spaces and public art for the area. The goal will be to turn the Grosvenor-Strathmore station area into a neighborhood rather than a disparate collection of buildings. Learn more about the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan.

Gaithersburg East Master Plan: In 2014, the Gaithersburg East area was divided into the Montgomery Village Master Plan and Gaithersburg East Master Plan, so the planning for Montgomery Village could be expedited. The Gaithersburg East Master Plan will address any land use and transportation issues that arise after a preferred solution has been identified for the M-83 highway alignment. Uses within the proposed plan boundaries, including the Airpark, surrounding light industrial uses and several residential communities, will be analyzed, along with redevelopment and rezoning opportunities.

Veirs Mill Road Corridor Small Area Plan: This plan will evaluate the heavily used corridor between the Wheaton and Rockville Metrorail stations. Goals include ensuring neighborhood access to the future bus rapid transit system and transit compatibility with the adjoining land uses along the Veirs Mill corridor. Redevelopment opportunities, improved pedestrian connectivity and compatibility between existing and potential uses will be analyzed.

Short-Term Residential Rentals: The County Council has charged planners with conducting outreach to help craft legislation on short-term residential rentals, such as Airbnb. Currently, the County’s Zoning Ordinance does not allow for residential rentals less than 30 days. The Council has directed Planning staff to make recommendations on best practices only after community outreach is conducted to engage stakeholders in discussing this issue. Learn more about the Short-Term Residential Rental project.

Plans in Progress:

White Flint 2 Sector Plan: Launched in July 2015, this plan has focused on land uses, transportation, infrastructure and public facilities in areas to the west, north and east of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan boundaries. The Working Draft of this plan is scheduled to be presented the Planning Board in fall 2016. Learn more about the White Flint 2 Sector Plan.

Rock Spring Master Plan: The plan for Rock Spring started last July with the exploration of new opportunities for 247 acres east of Montgomery Mall. Currently, this area is occupied mostly by office buildings, including the headquarters for Lockheed Martin and Marriott. A new street network, public amenities, residential uses and environmental upgrades have been examined for the area. School capacity issues have also been discussed and studied through a series of community meetings for this plan area. The Working Draft of the Rock Spring Master Plan  is scheduled to be presented to the Planning Board in fall 2016. Learn more about the Rock Spring Master Plan.

Subdivision Staging Policy Update (Growth Policy): The update to the quadrennial Subdivision Staging Policy started in July 2015 and has progressed through a series of community meetings focused on the impact of growth on the County, specifically as it relates to schools and transportation. The goal has been to evaluate the tools that will determine the adequacy of public facilities to accommodate new development and growth in Montgomery County. Learn more about the Subdivision Staging Policy Update.

Retail Trends Study: The Planning Department has been conducting a retail trends study with the help of a consultant to understand how emerging buying patterns will influence the County’s economic competitiveness. The study, which is looking at national and regional trends affecting shopping environments, such as the growing use of e-commerce, will propose recommendations for future plans involving retail.

MARC Rail Communities Plan: Work began last fall on the MARC Rail Communities Plan, which is focusing on the areas around the Boyds and Germantown rail stations. Planners are evaluating land use, zoning, design and access at those two Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) stations. The resulting plans will recommend physical and operational improvements to the stations and enhancements to access and parking. Learn more about the MARC Rail Communities Plan.

Bicycle Master Plan: Cities across the United States have taken the lead in retrofitting streets for bikes. Now Montgomery County aims to be at the forefront among suburban jurisdictions in planning a high-quality bicycling network. The opportunities to create these facilities are immense, as older areas such as White Flint and Shady Grove are rebuilt, and newer transit projects such as the Purple Line and bus rapid transit system are implemented. Launched in 2015, the Plan is considering the newest types of bikeways, such as separated bike lanes, buffered bike lanes and bicycle boulevards, as well as secure bicycle storage facilities. Learn more about the Bicycle Master Plan.

New Recreation Guidelines: The Recreation Guidelines, last adopted in 1992, are being revised in response to the County’s need for more urban-style recreation space in mixed-use developments near transit centers. In order to serve a variety of age groups, the updated guidelines will provide digital tools and an expanded list of recreation facilities, including rooftop areas, indoor fitness centers, community gardens and urban plazas. They will result in a more effective recreation plan for each site. Learn more about the update to the Recreation Guidelines.

Master Plan Reality Check: This study aims to determine how well recommendations in recent County Master Plans have been carried out in addressing changing density, infrastructure, transportation and land use in the County. Findings will influence the development of future Master and Sector Plans.

Dec 18 15

Community Offers Ideas about Improving Rock Spring at December 14 Meeting

by Bridget Schwiesow

Rock Spring 12.14

Planners encouraged feedback about transportation, community facilities, parks, connectivity and placemaking

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, held a community meeting on December 14, 2015 for the Rock Spring Master Plan. The planner-led discussion at Walter Johnson High School focused on placemaking and urban design strategies in the Rock Spring area of North Bethesda and drew about 40 participants.

Planners began the meeting with a summary of findings from the Technical Assistance Panel review of Rock Spring, conducted by experts from the Washington, DC chapter of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) on December 1 and December 2, 2015.

View the ULI findings from this recent event.

The ULI team recommended many of the strategies and ideas now being studied by planners for the area, including stronger gateways, better pedestrian connections and a mixed-use village center. Planners realize there is great potential for Rock Spring to transform into a mixed-use community with enhanced amenities and connectivity.

Development Planned for Rock Spring

At the past two community meetings, staff informed participants about approved development projects within the Rock Spring Master Plan area. The first residential development in Rock Spring was completed in 2004; this 368-unit multi-family community is known as Berkshires of Rock Spring.  In the center of Rock Spring’s office park, residential builder EYA is currently constructing 168 townhouses.

A significant amount of development has been approved, but is currently unbuilt.  The mixed-use project known as Rock Spring Centre, located on 30 acres on the north side of Rock Spring Drive across from Walter Johnson High School, will include one million square feet of commercial uses and more than 800 dwelling units. The Ourisman Ford site on Westlake Terrace has been approved for 340 multi-family units and over 50,000 square feet of retail.

At the December 14 community meeting, staff also informed the community about potential plans for the Wildwood Medical Center site. In addition, planners presented models of successful streetscapes and intersections from communities such as Bethesda, Rockville and Silver Spring that could inspire similar designs in Rock Spring.

Participants had the opportunity to provide feedback on many of the planning issues, including pedestrian safety, transportation, community facilities, community identity, parks and economic development. They spoke about the need for a new school and community center within the Rock Spring area, pedestrian safety for Walter Johnson students, more access to public transit, improvements to local streets and other concerns.

View the Rock Spring Master Plan Scope of Work presented to the Planning Board on October 8.

Background on Rock Spring
Once considered a premier office location, Rock Spring has been particularly hard hit by the current downturn in the office market.  Single-use business parks without access to transit, like Rock Spring, are struggling with the highest office vacancies. The current office vacancy rate in Rock Spring is 23.7 percent, higher than the County’s overall vacancy rate of 15 percent.  In recognition of the changing preferences of employers and their workforce for locating in transit-served locations with a dynamic mix of uses, this planning effort will explore ways to reimagine Rock Spring.

The 1992 North Bethesda/Garrett Park Sector Plan recommended some mixed-use zoning in the Rock Spring area, and one residential development of 386 multi-family units has been completed and a new 168-unit townhouse project is under construction. Much of the property in Rock Spring was converted to the Employment Office (EOF) zone when the Countywide rezoning became effective on October 30, 2014. The Rock Spring Master Plan effort will allow for a more detailed and nuanced assessment of the area’s zoning.

In addition, the 1992 Sector Plan also recommended construction of the North Bethesda Transitway to connect the White Flint area with Montgomery Mall via Old Georgetown Road and Rock Spring Drive. The Transitway is included in the approved 2013 Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan (CTCFMP) and provides a framework for re-evaluating Rock Spring.

Challenges confronting the Rock Spring planners include:

-Reinventing an auto-centric suburban office park.

-Identifying opportunities for improved connectivity.

-Examining places for public use spaces and amenities.

-Introducing residential and retail uses into predominately non-residential development to create a mixed use environment.

-Identifying sustainable environmental measures.

-Analyzing the impact of potential new residential development on the public schools.

-Evaluating infrastructure needs for the area.

Learn more about the Rock Spring Master Plan.

For more information about the Rock Spring Master Plan, contact the planners:

Andrea Gilles, tel. 301-495-4541, email andrea.gilles@montgomeryplanning.org

Michael Bello, tel. 301.495.4597, email Michael.Bello@montgomeryplanning.org

Stay connected with the latest information about the Rock Spring Master Plan:
www.montgomeryplanning.org/rockspring

Dec 3 15

ULI Washington Panel Recommends Strategies to Revitalize Rock Spring and White Flint 2 Office Parks at December 2 Workshop

by Bridget Schwiesow

white flint imageRock Spring Logo rev 2ULI revised

Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Panel helped ongoing planning efforts for Rock Spring and White Flint 2 areas by suggesting land uses, amenities, multi-modal access

Silver Spring, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, partnered with the Washington, DC District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to conduct a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) review from Tuesday, December 1 through Wednesday, December 2, 2015. The event, titled “What’s Next for the Rock Spring Office Park and the Executive Boulevard area in White Flint,” was held at 6110 Executive Boulevard in Rockville.

“These areas are so important to Montgomery County from the standpoint of economic development and jobs,” says Planning Director Gwen Wright. “That’s why we wanted to draw on the expertise of a ULI Washington technical assistance panel to provide recommendations as we continue the planning process for Rock Spring and White Flint 2.”

The workshop included site visits, roundtable discussions and a presentation of findings from a multi-disciplinary team of real estate and land use experts who are members of ULI Washington. The panelists suggested ways of making the two office parks in North Bethesda more economically competitive and vibrant. These office districts, located less than two miles apart in the Rock Spring and Executive Boulevard areas, are now being studied by the County Planning Department as part of its ongoing planning efforts. The Rock Spring Master Plan and White Flint 2 Sector Plan will consider new land uses and zoning, along with potential enhancements to public facilities, open spaces and transportation.

View the powerpoint of the ULI Washington Technical Assistance Panel presentation from December 2.

View the video of the ULI Washington Technical Assistance Panel presentation from December 2.

Challenges of Rock Spring and Executive Boulevard Areas

The primary challenge in both locations is the high office vacancy rate. The Rock Spring office park has a vacancy rate of 21.2 percent and the Executive Boulevard office park within the White Flint 2 area has a vacancy rate of 29.2 percent, compared to Montgomery County’s overall office vacancy rate of 14.8 percent (according to CoStar statistics).

Each office park contains three completely empty buildings. A major tenant in Rock Spring, Marriott International, has announced tentative plans to relocate to a more walkable, transit-served and mixed-use setting. Experts on the panel pointed out that high office vacancy rates are not unique to Montgomery County; they are evident all over the country. In response, many communities are successfully developing strategies to deal with the changing office market.

The ULI panelists also focused on challenges related to the lack of community identity in both locations. They emphasized the absence of amenities, such as coffee shops, lunch venues, gyms, and drug stores, within the office parks; the lack of pedestrian access and connectivity to offsite amenities; and the need to diversify land uses, since currently there is only a single land use – office – in the two areas.

TAP Recommendations for Executive Boulevard Area

During the report-out on December 2, the ULI experts presented strategies for transforming the office parks. Their recommendations for the Executive Boulevard area of White Flint are:

-Accelerate implementation of the north/west Pike & Rose Metrorail station entrance.

-Implement the planned Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard realignment (called the Western Workaround).

-Improve pedestrian connections to amenities, such as those at Pike & Rose, and the existing White Flint Metrorail station.

-Leverage and link to the White Flint recreation loop for walking and biking.

-Introduce Bikeshare as a multimodal connector.

-Introduce convenience retail for office workers and future residents, including coffee shops, cafes, drug stores, dry cleaners.

-Decrease perceived distances between office building entrances and the street by encouraging small retail spaces, pop-up amenities (food trucks, parklets) and outdoor seating.

-Embrace and enhance the ample green spaces, including mature trees and landscaping, already present.

-Leverage and link the Executive Boulevard office park to Pike & Rose’s identity.

-Create a consistent signage and streetscape package to reinforce new identify for office parks.

TAP Recommendations for Rock Spring Area

The experts organized their comments according to the major challenges of identity, connectivity, amenities and land use as follows:

-Draw on the theme of “live well” by building on existing medical tenants and green environment of Rock Spring.

-Create an anchor for wellness/central community uses and a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented environment.

-Improve entry points by creating gateways through artwork, signage and archways.

-Provide a shuttle to the Metrorail station and enhance pedestrian and bike connections to Westfield Montgomery Mall – which the panel viewed as a major amenity for the area.

-Enhance transit rider knowledge through technology tools.

-Introduce Bikeshare stations.

-Break up superblocks of office buildings with mid-block crossings for pedestrians.

-Concentrate communal amenities (community center, library, civic functions) in a central location.

-Create a centrally located mixed-use village center, possibly including a library and arts facilities.

-Leverage existing green spaces by building a trail network, seating, and open spaces.

-Catalyze development of the approved, mixed-use Rock Spring Center project.

-Change zoning to eliminate constraints, allow maximum land-use flexibility and make the area market-responsive.

-Explore creative approaches to school overcrowding in the area, such as adding another school on or adjacent to the Walter Johnson High School site, reusing an office building for a school and/or building a new school within the Rock Spring office park, possibly on an existing surface parking lot.

-Use financial tools to achieve goals, such as tax abatement and tax-increment financing; special assessment taxing districts to accelerate infrastructure improvements; County acquisition of vacant and underperforming offices buildings to spur changes in use; and public-private partnerships.

-Create buy-in for real estate changes through community education.

Many of these recommendations will be considered by County planners in developing the new Rock Spring Master Plan and White Flint 2 Sector Plan. The Plans will guide and encourage the transformation of the office parks, and recommend facilities and policies needed to support new uses.

For more information about the Rock Spring Master Plan, go to www.montgomeryplanning.org/rockspring

For more information about the White Flint 2 Sector Plan, go to www.montgomeryplanning.org/wf2

About the ULI Technical Assistance Panel

The objective of ULI Washington’s Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) program is to provide expert, multidisciplinary advice on land use and real estate issues facing public agencies and nonprofit organizations in the Metropolitan Washington Region. Drawing from its extensive membership base, ULI Washington conducts one and one-half day panels offering objective and responsible advice to local decision-makers on a wide variety of land use and real estate issues, ranging from site-specific projects to public policy questions. The TAP program is intentionally flexible to provide a customized approach to specific land use and real estate issues. Learn more at http://washington.uli.org/TAPs.

The panelists for the Rock Spring and Executive Boulevard areas were:

Bob Eisenberg, Chair, Clark Enterprises

Robert Atkinson, Davis Carter Scott

Dean Bellas, Urban Analytics

Brigg Bunker, Foulger Pratt Development

Barbara Byron, Fairfax County Office of Community Revitalization

Matt Klein, Akridge

Alex Rixey, Fehr and Peers

Rebecca Snyder, Insight Property Group

Stan Wall, HR&A Advisors

About The Montgomery County Planning Department
The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, aims to improve quality of life by conserving and enhancing the natural and built environment for current and future generations. The Planning Department creates great communities by developing master plans, reviewing applications for development and analyzing various types of information to help public officials plan for Montgomery County’s future. The Department comprises 140 staff members and provides recommendations, information, analysis and services to the Montgomery County Planning Board, the County Council, the County Executive, other government agencies and the general public. Visit www.montgomeryplanning.org.

About ULI Washington
ULI Washington is a district council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a nonprofit education and research organization supported by its members. Founded in 1936, the Institute today has more than 30,000 members worldwide representing the entire spectrum of land use planning and real estate development disciplines working in private enterprise and public service. As the preeminent, multidisciplinary real estate forum, ULI facilitates the open exchange of ideas, information and experience among local, national and international industry leaders and policy makers dedicated to creating better communities.

ULI’s mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. ULI Washington carries out the ULI mission locally by sharing best practices, building consensus, and advancing solutions through educational programs and community outreach initiatives.

 

 

Dec 1 15

December 14 Community Meeting on Rock Spring Master Plan Will Focus on Future Development in the Area

by Bridget Schwiesow

Rock Spring Logo rev 2
Planners will discuss approved and proposed projects, and encourage community feedback about transportation, parks and placemaking at event being held at Walter Johnson High School

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is holding a community meeting on December 14, 2015 for the Rock Spring Master Plan. The planner-led event will be held at Walter Johnson High School (6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda) from 7 to 9 p.m. to discuss the goals of the Rock Spring Master Plan and development in the planning area.

RSVP for the December 14 meeting.

This meeting builds on the October 28 community meeting, which focused on development projects planned for Rock Spring. Already approved for the area is 1 million square feet of mixed-use development, including 210,000 square feet of new retail, a 200-room hotel and more than 800 residential units.

At the December 14 meeting, staff will discuss an approved mixed-use project on the Ourisman Ford site as well as potential plans for the Wildwood Medical Center site. In addition, planners will present possible ways of transforming Rock Spring Drive and Fernwood Road into more hospitable boulevards. Attendees will have the opportunity to provide feedback during break-out sessions focused on transportation, recreation, parks and placemaking.

View the Rock Spring Master Plan Scope of Work presented to the Planning Board on October 8.

Background on Rock Spring
Once considered a premier office location, Rock Spring has been particularly hard hit by the current downturn in the office market.  Single-use business parks without access to transit, like Rock Spring, are struggling with the highest office vacancies. The current office vacancy rate in Rock Spring is 23.7 percent, higher than the County’s overall vacancy rate of 15 percent.  In recognition of the changing preferences of employers and their workforce for locating in transit-served locations with a dynamic mix of uses, this planning effort will explore ways to reimagine Rock Spring.

The 1992 North Bethesda/Garrett Park Sector Plan recommended some mixed-use zoning in the Rock Spring area, and one residential development of 386 multi-family units has been completed and a new 168-unit townhouse project is under construction. Much of the property in Rock Spring was converted to the Employment Office (EOF) zone when the Countywide rezoning became effective on October 30, 2014. The Rock Spring Master Plan effort will allow for a more detailed and nuanced assessment of the area’s zoning.

In addition, the 1992 Sector Plan also recommended construction of the North Bethesda Transitway to connect the White Flint area with Montgomery Mall via Old Georgetown Road and Rock Spring Drive. The Transitway is included in the approved 2013 Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan (CTCFMP) and provides a framework for re-evaluating Rock Spring.

Challenges confronting the Rock Spring planners include:

-Reinventing an auto-centric suburban office park.

-Identifying opportunities for improved connectivity.

-Examining places for public use spaces and amenities.

-Introducing residential and retail uses into predominately non-residential development to create a mixed use environment.

-Identifying sustainable environmental measures.

-Analyzing the impact of potential new residential development on the public schools.

-Evaluating infrastructure needs for the area.

Learn more about the Rock Spring Master Plan.

For more information about the Rock Spring Master Plan, contact the planners:
Don Zeigler, tel.301.495.4638, email Don.Zeigler@montgomeryplanning.org
Michael Bello, tel. 301.495.4597, email Michael.Bello@montgomeryplanning.org

Stay connected with the latest information about the Rock Spring Master Plan:
www.montgomeryplanning.org/rockspring

Nov 25 15

Planning Department and Urban Land Institute Will Hold Workshop on December 1 and 2 to Strategize Future of Rock Spring and White Flint Office Parks

by Bridget Schwiesow

ULI revised

white flint imageRock Spring Logo rev 2

The ULI Washington Technical Assistance Panel will help shape plans for Rock Spring and White Flint 2 areas by suggesting ways of revitalizing their office parks

Silver Spring, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is partnering with the Washington, DC chapter of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to hold a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) from Tuesday, December 1 through Wednesday, December 2, 2015. The invitation-only event, titled “What’s Next for the Rock Spring Office Park and the Executive Boulevard Area in White Flint,” will be held at 6110 Executive Boulevard in Rockville.

The workshop will include site visits, roundtable discussions and presentations from a team of ULI experts, who will suggest ways of making two office parks in North Bethesda more economically competitive and vibrant.

The North Bethesda office districts are located less than two miles apart in the Rock Spring and Executive Boulevard areas. They are now being studied by the Planning Department as part of ongoing master planning efforts. The Rock Spring Master Plan and White Flint 2 Sector Plan will recommend new land uses and zoning, along with concepts for public facilities, open spaces and transportation.

The challenge set before the ULI experts is the high vacancy rate in these County office parks. The Rock Spring office park has a vacancy rate of nearly 22 percent and the Executive Boulevard office park within the White Flint 2 area has a vacancy rate of almost 33 percent. Each office park contains three completely empty buildings. A major tenant in Rock Spring, Marriott International, has announced tentative plans to relocate to a more walkable, transit-served and mixed-use setting.

The Planning Department submitted an application to ULI in October 2015 to hold the Technical Assistance Panel. The panel will be run by the local ULI chapter to address land use issues that require local knowledge to resolve.

The two-day workshop will end with a presentation of findings that will be posted to the White Flint 2 and Rock Spring plan webpages. A final report will be produced by ULI within three months of concluding the TAP and made available to the public.

The new Rock Spring Master Plan and White Flint 2 Sector Plan will guide and encourage the transformation of the office parks, and recommend facilities and policies needed to support this change.

For more information about the Rock Spring Master Plan, go to: http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/rockspring

For more information about the White Flint 2 Sector Plan, go to: http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/wf2

About The Montgomery County Planning Department
The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, aims to improve quality of life by conserving and enhancing the natural and built environment for current and future generations. The Planning Department creates great communities by developing master plans, reviewing applications for development and analyzing various types of information to help public officials plan for Montgomery County’s future. The Department comprises 140 staff members and provides recommendations, information, analysis and services to the Montgomery County Planning Board, the County Council, the County Executive, other government agencies and the general public. Visit www.montgomeryplanning.org.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) provides leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Founded in 1936, the institute now has more than 38,000 members worldwide representing the entire spectrum of land use and real estate development disciplines, working in private enterprise and public service. ULI Washington works to advance the mission of ULI in the greater Washington metropolitan area. With just under 2,000 members, ULI Washington is one of the largest district councils in the world.

Oct 30 15

Rock Spring Master Plan Overview Presented at Community Meeting on October 28

by Bridget Schwiesow

Rock Spring Logo rev 2
Planners discussed community feedback and County-approved development for Rock Spring during meeting at Walter Johnson High School

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, held a community meeting on Wednesday, October 28 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Walter Johnson High School (6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda, MD) to discuss existing conditions and approved development in the Rock Spring Master Plan area.

The planning team summarized community feedback about the Master Plan that was received at the kick-off meeting on September 1 and September 17 meeting, which focused on school capacity issues in the Walter Johnson cluster.

In addition to concerns about school sites and overcrowding, residents have expressed interest in better transit access and connectivity; more walkable streets, open space and parks; more community and senior centers; and less traffic impact in neighborhoods adjacent to  Rock Spring. These issues will be considered by the planners when the preliminary Rock Spring Master Plan recommendations are drafted later in the process.

Staff summarized office and retail market conditions in Rock Spring, noting the premium office space that catered to large scale office tenants during the 1980s and 1990s. The current trend for executive offices is to be located in transit-friendly, mixed-use environments.

Planners also presented the concept of placemaking, which provides ideas about how a traditional suburban office park could be transformed through improved street design, connectivity and programming of activities.  These ideas will be discussed in more detail at the next Rock Spring Master Plan community meeting on December 14, 2015.

In order to inform attendees about developments that have been approved in the Master Plan area, the October 28 meeting included presentations from property owners. Jim Agliata, vice president of development for Westfield Montgomery Mall, spoke about the extensive renovations that have been undertaken at the mall, including the addition of Arclight movie theaters and remodeling of the food court.

Steve Robins, an attorney representing the Rock Spring Centre project, provided an overview of the development plans that have been approved, but have not been built, for a large, mixed-use project on a 50-acre site across from Walter Johnson High School. Residential builder McLean Quinn of EYA spoke about Montgomery Row, a 168-townhome community under construction on a site formerly planned for an office building on Fernwood Drive between Rock Spring and Rockledge Drives.

View the presentations from the October 28 meeting.
View the Rock Spring Master Plan Scope of Work presented to the Planning Board on October 8.
View the Rock Spring Master Plan Scope of Work presentation from October 8.

Background on Rock Spring
Once considered a premier office location, Rock Spring has been particularly hard hit by the current downturn in the office market.  Single-use business parks without access to transit, like Rock Spring, are struggling with high office vacancies.  The current office vacancy rate in Rock Spring is 23.7 percent, higher than the County’s overall vacancy rate of 15 percent.  In the context of changing preferences of employers and their workforce for transit-served locations with a dynamic mix of uses, this planning effort will explore ways to reimagine Rock Spring.

The 1992 North Bethesda/Garrett Park Sector Plan recommended some mixed-use zoning in the Rock Spring area, and one residential development of 386 multi-family units has been completed and a new 168-unit townhouse project is under construction. Much of the property in Rock Spring was converted to the Employment Office (EOF) zone when the Countywide rezoning became effective on October 30, 2014. The Rock Spring Master Plan effort will allow for a more detailed and nuanced assessment of the area’s zoning.

In addition, the 1992 Sector Plan also recommended the North Bethesda Transitway to connect the White Flint area with Montgomery Mall via Old Georgetown Road and Rock Spring Drive. The Transitway is included in the approved 2013 Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan (CTCFMP) and provides a framework for re-evaluating Rock Spring.

Challenges confronting the Rock Spring planners include:
-Reinventing an auto-centric suburban office park.
-Identifying opportunities for improved connectivity.
-Examining places for public use spaces and amenities.
-Introducing residential and retail uses into predominately non-residential development to create a mixed use environment.
-Identifying sustainable environmental measures.
-Analyzing the impact of potential new residential development on the public schools.
-Evaluating infrastructure needs for the area.

Learn more about the Rock Spring Master Plan.

For more information about the Rock Spring Master Plan, contact the planners:
Don Zeigler, tel.301.495.4638, email Don.Zeigler@montgomeryplanning.org or
Michael Bello, tel. 301.495.4597, email Michael.Bello@montgomeryplanning.org

Stay connected with the latest information about the Rock Spring Master Plan:
www.montgomeryplanning.org/rockspring

Oct 13 15

Montgomery County Planning Department Invites Community to Attend Rock Spring Community Meeting on October 28

by Bridget Schwiesow

Rock Spring Logo rev 2
Community invited to meet with planners, discuss the challenges and opportunities of the plan area at Walter Johnson High School from 7 to 9 p.m.

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is inviting residents, business owners and anyone with an interest in the  Rock Spring area to attend a community meeting hosted by the Rock Spring Master Plan team on Wednesday, October 28 at  Walter Johnson High School (6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda, MD) from 7 to 9 p.m. RSVPs are encouraged, but not required.

RSVP for the October 28 Rock Spring Community Meeting.

View the Rock Spring Master Plan Scope of Work presented to the Planning Board on October 8.
View the Rock Spring Master Plan Scope of Work presentation from October 8.

The October 28 community meeting follows the September 17 joint meeting with the Rock Spring and White Flint 2 Master Plan teams which focused on MCPS facility concerns in the Walter Johnson High School cluster. The September 17 meeting, which drew about 100 residents, was held to begin the dialogue about how to address school facility issues in this cluster.

During the upcoming master plan process for Rock Spring, Planning Department staff and MCPS staff will collaborate with the community to ensure that land use and zoning recommendations are coordinated with the corresponding recommendations for educational facilities.

Background on Rock Spring
Once considered a premier office location, Rock Spring has been particularly hard hit by the current downturn in the office market.  Single-use business parks without access to transit, like Rock Spring, are struggling with the highest office vacancies. The current office vacancy rate in Rock Spring is 23.7 percent, higher than the County’s overall vacancy rate of 15 percent.  In the context of changing preferences of employers and their workforce for transit-served locations with a dynamic mix of uses, this planning effort will explore ways to reimagine Rock Spring.

The 1992 North Bethesda/Garrett Park Sector Plan recommended some mixed-use zoning in the Rock Spring area, and one residential development of 386 multi-family units has been completed and a new 168-unit townhouse project is under construction. Much of the property in Rock Spring was converted to the Employment Office (EOF) zone when the Countywide rezoning became effective on October 30, 2014.  The Rock Spring Master Plan effort will allow for a more detailed and nuanced assessment of the area’s zoning.

In addition, the 1992 Sector Plan also recommended the North Bethesda Transitway to connect the White Flint area with Montgomery Mall via Old Georgetown Road and Rock Spring Drive. The Transitway is included in the approved 2013 Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan (CTCFMP) and provides a framework for re-evaluating Rock Spring.

Challenges confronting the Rock Spring planners include:

-Reinventing an auto-centric suburban office park.

-Identifying opportunities for improved connectivity.

-Examining places for public use spaces and amenities.

-Introducing residential and retail uses into predominately non-residential development to create a mixed use environment.

-Identifying sustainable environmental measures.

-Analyzing the impact of potential new residential development on the public schools.

-Evaluating infrastructure needs for the area.

Learn more about the Rock Spring Master Plan.

For more information about the Rock Spring Master Plan, contact the planners:
Don Zeigler, tel.301.495.4638, email Don.Zeigler@montgomeryplanning.org or
Michael Bello, tel. 301.495.4597, email Michael.Bello@montgomeryplanning.org

Stay connected with the latest information about the Rock Spring Master Plan:
www.montgomeryplanning.org/rockspring

Connect on Twitter: #ReImagineRockSpring
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/montgomeryplanning

Oct 2 15

Draft Scope of Work for Rock Spring Master Plan Will Be Presented to Planning Board on October 8

by Bridget Schwiesow

Rock Spring Logo rev 2

Planners request Board’s approval of the Plan’s boundaries, key issues to address, and outreach strategy

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, launched the Rock Spring Master Plan on July 1.

On Thursday, October 8, the Montgomery County Planning Board members will review the Draft Scope of Work for the Rock Spring Master Plan to discuss the planning objectives they would like to achieve in this area. The meeting will be held at the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD).

View the draft scope for the Rock Spring Master Plan.

Background on Rock Spring
Once considered a premier office location, Rock Spring has been particularly hard hit by the current downturn in the office market.  Single-use business parks without access to transit, like Rock Spring, are struggling with the highest office vacancies. The current office vacancy rate in Rock Spring is 23.7 percent, higher than the County’s overall vacancy rate of 15 percent.  In the context of the changing preferences of employers and their workforce for transit-served locations with a dynamic mix of uses, this planning effort will explore ways to reimagine Rock Spring.

The 1992 North Bethesda/Garrett Park Sector Plan recommended some mixed-use zoning in the Rock Spring area, and one residential development of 386 multi-family units has been completed  and a  new 168-unit townhouse project is under construction. Much of the property in Rock Spring was converted to the Employment Office (EOF) zone when the Countywide rezoning became effective on October 30, 2014.  The Rock Spring Master Plan effort will allow for a more detailed and nuanced assessment of the area’s zoning.

In addition, the 1992 Sector Plan also recommended the North Bethesda Transitway to connect the White Flint area with Montgomery Mall via Old Georgetown Road and Rock Spring Drive. The Transitway is included in the approved 2013 Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan (CTCFMP) and provides a framework for re-evaluating Rock Spring.

Challenges confronting the Rock Spring planners include:

-Reinventing an auto-centric suburban office park.

-Identifying opportunities for improved connectivity.

-Examining places for public use spaces and amenities.

-Introducing residential and retail uses into predominately non-residential development to create a mixed use environment.

-Identifying sustainable environmental measures.

-Analyzing the impact of potential new residential development on the public schools.

-Evaluating infrastructure needs for the area.

Learn more about the Rock Spring Master Plan.

For more information about the Rock Spring Master Plan, contact the planners:
Don Zeigler, tel.301.495.4638, email Don.Zeigler@montgomeryplanning.org or
Michael Bello, tel. 301.495.4597, email Michael.Bello@montgomeryplanning.org

Stay connected with the latest information about the Rock Spring Master Plan:
www.montgomeryplanning.org/rockspring

Connect on Twitter: #ReImagineRockSpring
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/montgomeryplanning