Come join us explore East Falls Church – an area centered on the Metro station and on the cusp of big changes. Divided by I-66 and split between two jurisdictions, the area is surrounded by well-loved neighborhoods, with parks and the booming W&OD bicycle trail.
Two days before the release of a request for developer’s ideas for Wheaton, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett joined County Council President Nancy Navarro and others Saturday for a tour of the area where redevelopment has long been discussed.
“This is Wheaton’s time, and we’re going to do it, and we’re going to do it right,” Leggett said to the tour group including state and county officials as well as area residents.
The request for proposals, posted on the county’s website on Monday, asks for developers to come up with a plan that includes a headquarters building for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, a town square, residential and/or retail space, and public parking.
The plans can encompass up to four sites, including the Mid-County Regional Services Center, Parking Lot 13 and Parking Lot 34 in Wheaton and the current park and planning commission site at 8787 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring.
Developers have until July 31 to submit their proposals.
As of Monday afternoon, the county website listed four companies who had downloaded a copy of the solicitation.
Leggett stressed to Saturday’s tour group that the redevelopment process will include community input and that the county wants Wheaton to be a community that “you are proud of.”
“This is not the end, this is simply the beginning, an opportunity for the public to weigh in, to be part of this process,” Leggett said. “Without the public’s involvement, whatever we do will not be successful.”
Navarro said that, for the first time, the county has money in the budget for Wheaton’s redevelopment and that the current approach will allow community members to participate.
“It allows all of you, all of those people who have been involved for so long, to see how we can maximize this opportunity,” Navarro said.
Saturday’s walking tour — run by the Coalition for Smarter Growth and the Wheaton Urban District Advisory Committee — highlighted several of Wheaton’s existing sites, including the MetroPointe apartments on Georgia Avenue — a mixed-income community — Wheaton Veterans Park, and the Wheaton Triangle area’s small businesses.
Henriot St. Gerard, chair of the urban district advisory committee, said a main goal of the event was to help people think about Wheaton in a broader sense than just the redevelopment of the Parking Lot 13 area and about its potential as a walkable community.
“It’s not just a focus on this centralized location in the urban district, we’re thinking about everyone outside of that,” including restaurants, entertainment venues and small businesses, St. Gerard said.
Speakers, including those from the coalition and the Wheaton advisory committee, discussed how the area could become more walkable through factors such as improved lighting, signage and pedestrian access.
Ash Kosiewicz — communications and advocacy director for the Latino Economic Development Center and lead organizer of the Coalition for the Fair Redevelopment of Wheaton — shared some of the concerns the area’s small businesses have voiced in light of redevelopment, including a loss of parking and their ability to pay rent.
With the release of the request for proposals, Marian Fryer — president of the Wheaton Citizens Coalition and member of the urban district advisory committee — said as she walked on the tour that there have been “many starts and stops” in Wheaton’s redevelopment process, but that she is now feeling optimistic.
That sense of optimism, she said, comes from “the fact that we now have an opportunity to get some good proposals, creative proposals, responsible development proposals and go from there and, hopefully, now that the money has been put in place, we won’t have to start over again.”
Del. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington, who attended the tour, compared the Wheaton area — where he said he grew up — to Silver Spring.
“People forget how many false starts there were in Silver Spring, and that’s okay,” Waldstreicher said. “There are going to be false starts and now Silver Spring is a great place to have dinner, raise a family, and the same thing will happen in Wheaton.”
For Andy Wexler, of Silver Spring, the tour was a source of information on the community he and his wife are considering moving to and have already visited for years to shop and eat.
“I hope that [redevelopment is] done very carefully,” he said. “There’s so many issues involved and if those issues aren’t dealt with in a very thoughtful and sensitive way, it can cause a lot of damage to a community.”
Photo courtesy of Greg Dohler and The Gazette
On Saturday, June 1, 2013, the Coalition for Smarter Growth partnered with Wheaton Urban District Advisory Committee to tour recent and upcoming changes in “A Walkable Wheaton.” Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and County Council President Nancy Navarro toured new developments and were joined by speakers from Kittelson & Associates, Housing Opportunities Commission, Latino Economic Development Center, and Just Up the Pike.
Your Friends have been out in the community over the last month and we’re grateful to our partners for engaging us in these fascinating opportunities. Dan Reed and I were both panelists during a Montgomery Housing Partnership breakfast focused on social media in community engagement.
Montgomery Housing Partnership’s mission is to expand and preserve affordable housing in Montgomery County – something that will become an issue in White Flint if the county truly wants to draw a younger demographic. MHP doesn’t just advocate, they also walk the talk by “acquiring, rehabilitating, building and managing quality affordable housing.”
Friends of White Flint was very proud to be part of Coalition for Smarter Growth’s Walking Tours and Forum Series. ”White Flint: From Drag to Desirable” was the topic that kicked off this season of walking tours – and to a sold out crowd! Nearly sixty people joined Stewart Schwartz of CSG, Nkosi Yearwood of the Planning Department, Tommy Mann from Federal Realty and me on a beautiful morning’s trek through the past, present and future of White Flint.
The tour was a great way to feel and see the differences between streets that solely car-focused, as opposed to those that consider all travelers. Features like tree buffers, bike lanes, benches and trash cans equalize priorities among pedestrians, bikers and drivers. Many of our main White Flint streets still have a long way to go in becoming truly walkable.
Friends of White Flint also hosted a Developer Showcase on April 30th in the Whole Foods Rockville café. It was an opportunity for the community to browse new projects in White Flint’s future, and meet the people behind the ideas. Paladar Latin Kitchen, Montgomery County Parks Department (Wall Park), LCOR (North Bethesda Center), Lerner Enterprises (White Flint Mall), and Federal Realty Investment Corp (Pike & Rose) were all available to chat, show their plans and share guacamole. Friends of White Flint member Chevy Chase Land Company was also present with information about their plans for Chevy Chase Lake.
Over 100 visitors checked out the exciting plans for White Flint and appreciated seeing the images up close. If you weren’t able to join us that rainy morning, let us know if you’d like us to host a similar event on an upcoming evening!
Finally, Friends of White Flint has begun a monthly presence at the Pike Central Farmers Market! Find us among the food trucks and produce and learn more about your community while you browse!
And, wherever you see us – don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on the plans for White Flint. We’re here to have a positive and consensus-building conversation. Join in!
The Greater U Street area of 14th Street NW has witnessed dramatic change in just a few short years. Over 1000 housing units are under construction or newly built, about 85,000 square feet of retail space have been added, and dozens of restaurants have opened in the past few years. What makes this historic district such a magnet for new development? How has historic preservation and the arts district coexisted with dramatic redevelopment all along the corridor? What’s being done to preserve and build affordable housing? We heard about the story of the rapidly changing 14th Street NW corridor from the people who live and work here.