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I work nearby. This is a step up from what's been built recently in the WF area, which is all pretty unintegrated, and uninspired. But even if it's a nice mixed use project it will be surrounded by big self-contained complexes (the big brick joint a block away) and a deadscape of highrises with a little retail thrown in (across Rockville Pike) plus it will have no real relationship to the large employment corridor that's basically behind it. The new cloverleaf will isolate it from a lot of other retail on the Pike and any meaningful alteration of that will require a better pedestrian environment, although the Pike is actually quite a bit better than, say, Leesburg Pike in this respect. Although the arterials will provide multiple ways in from Rockville Pike, it ultimately looks like it will be as confusing to drivers as the traffic circulation at every other large shopping center development on the Pike. At best, this might be a nice lifestyle center with housing that stimulates some better development nearby (not difficult) and might eventually force people to think how to connect it to the surrounding big blocks, but that will take time. The timeline in the piece is confusing...a long-term development, a five year development, opening in 2014 (I'm assuming that's just a small part). The major suburban shopping cneters near where I grew-up each developed over the course of a decade, each. The downtown-ish shopping area of the next suburb over from us developed over the course of about 15 years in a relatively mature suburb. There's nothing novel about long-term development and this would be a better long-term development if it began imagining how it could be a catalyst for improving its surroundings (which would make it more successful commercially).

Comparison with Clarendon is a little unfair to both places as is all the other usual comparisons made to Clarendon. Clarendon really doesn't have a good analogy in MoCo--SS and Bethesda are wedge shaped downtowns with one Metro stop each. Clarendon is really the Calrendon-Court House corridor and serves an area that includes some other closely spaced Metro stops (Ballston, Virginia Square, and even Rosslyn). That corridor is large and a mixed bag ranging from awful (Rosslyn) to flawed and often dead (Ballston), as well as lively if a little plastic (Clarendon). Bethesda works on its own merits and is organized fairly well in relation to the surrounding area, at least W of 355. SS is a mess and made some very poor choices in terms of things like hotels (which should be near Metro) and large residential (which should be near retail, not lined up on E-W Hwy). Rockville Pike has multiple Metro stops but at longer intervals than Clarendon which calls for redundancy with Metro. Although there are roads that parallel Rockville Pike for varying intervals, there's nothing like Wilson Blvd. and Clarendon and remaking the corridor to better distribute through and local traffic will be complicated.

by Rich on Dec 20, 2012 11:23 pm • linkreport

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