Greater Greater Washington

Development


Eastern Montgomery discusses White Oak's future

East County residents and businesspeople met with Montgomery County planners last Wednesday at the Regional Services Center to learn about a proposal to bring a life sciences center to White Oak.

When completed, the East County Science Center Master Plan will recommend creating a mixed-use community with a focus on science and technology in an approximately 1400-acre area bounded by the Beltway, New Hampshire Avenue, Columbia Pike, Cherry Hill Road and the county line.

East County Science Center Open House
Kim Bobola from the East County Citizens Advisory Board looks at a map.

The goal of the plan, as outlined on its website, is to create a 21st-century vision for the "Cherry Hill/FDA/White Oak area." The main tenets of that vision are a community built around a "bio-tech employment cluster"; a "better jobs/housing balance" in an area with more residents than employment opportunities; creating "more diverse housing options" in the area, and bringing it all together with "efficient transit" and open space.

While previous master plans have taken up to 3½ years to draft, staff will finish the plan on an abbreviated schedule at the behest of the County Council, eager to bring more attention to the neglected communities east of Rock Creek Park. "This is a big master plan, and we only have two years," explains project leader Khalid Afzal.

Those seeking to build in the area were at the open house, including some of the car dealers located on Cherry Hill Road and Jere Stocks, president of Washington Adventist Hospital, which has land for a new facility on Plum Orchard Drive.

Also there were Jonathan Genn and Ayana Lambert, president and general counsel for developer Percontee, who's proposed a large development on Cherry Hill Road called LifeSci Village. "This is exciting because it means something's happening," says Lambert. "It's a step in the right direction."

Transportation planner Eric Graze brought a board showing proposed rapid transit routes in the master plan area, including ones along New Hampshire Avenue, Columbia Pike, and Cherry Hill Road. He explains that the map was largely derived from County Councilmember Marc Elrich's county-wide bus rapid transit plan, currently under study.

One line crossing the Food and Drug Administration campus between New Hampshire and Cherry Hill was an unknown, however. "I have no idea what that is," Graze says.

East County Science Center Open House (1)
Map of potential BRT routes in Montgomery County.

Planners seemed to outnumber residents at the four-hour-long open house, but those who did stop by could write comments on large boards. Their suggestions were heavily favored towards more development in East County. "Allow high density at the existing shopping centers (White Oak & Hillandale)," wrote one commenter. Another advocated a bus rapid transit line down Route 29.

Because of the plan's abbreviated schedule, some opportunities for community outreach - like an advisory committee made up of local stakeholders - may not happen. That'll be a big concern in White Oak, where reaching out to tenants of apartment complexes or non-English speakers in the area can be difficult.

"We haven't figured out how to get that segment of the population to come out," Afzal says of the area's large immigrant communities.

While drafting the sector plan for the Wheaton CBD - now going before the County Council - planners visited the owners of local ethnic shops to get their opinions and ideas. "We went to them" in Wheaton, Afzal notes. "If you don't have time, we'll come to you."

As with most land use issues, getting anyone involved is difficult regardless of their background. "There's an entire group of people interested in land use, and another group who won't come no matter how much we reach out to them," Afzal says. "Maybe they think we're doing okay."

A planner and architect by training, Dan Reed also writes his own blog, Just Up the Pike, and serves as the Land Use Chair for the Action Committee for Transit. He lives in downtown Silver Spring. 

Comments

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I believe that the mysterious line is the future routing of the US 29 light rail through the LifeSci Village from White Oak. If this plan is truly designed to be the eastern counterpart to Science City I, than it makes sense that the equivalent of the CCT will have a snaking route through the development to boost density and maximize land useage. Science City II will be necessary to maintain regional and national scientific prominence and is vital to our future economic prosperity. Build Science City II!

by Cyrus on Jul 7, 2010 1:21 pm • linkreport

It's past time for this part of Montgomery County to be developed around the FDA complex. It's just as huge as the Bethesda campuses. It is a mystery why a developer hasn't turned the White Oak shopping center into a town center by now.

by John E on Jul 7, 2010 3:18 pm • linkreport

is any of the planning for this being done in concert with neighboring prince georges?

howard university announced plans to build a massive research center just over the line from this in beltsville. have you heard anything about coordination? it seems like that's the one thing that no local jurisdictions do well around here...

by IMGoph on Jul 7, 2010 4:34 pm • linkreport

MoCo and PG last collaborated on a plan with the 1968 Fairland-Beltsville plan, but they haven't worked together since. I agree that it's a big mistake - especially when both counties have very different ideas of how to develop.

by dan reed! on Jul 7, 2010 6:52 pm • linkreport

It would be adventageous to master plan in coordination with PG but the MoCo side's success is independent of whatever PG does. The Howard University property has a poor location, inadequate transportation and existing science infrastructure and will not suceed. If Howard can swap their property with a part of Konterra reserved for "special use" AKA federal government agency, it would improve its success. I personally do not put much into the Howard proposal becuase that university has a mission that may not put science first. The Johns Hopkins proposal for Science City is much more probable given that university's financial resources and scientific prowress. Another piece of bad news for Konterra is that the SHA has not yet awarded the contract for ICC that would serve Konterra. If cost overruns are an issue for the project that segment of the ICC will be delayed indefinitely and will delay any development of Konterra, unless the developers shoulder a burden of the project cost.

If anything PG should push for a extension of the US 29 light rail from LifeSci Village to Konterra to the future Green Line extension. That line would serve a urbanized Calverton and would provide direct transit service to Konterra.

by Cyrus on Jul 7, 2010 9:56 pm • linkreport

Cyrus said...

Another piece of bad news for Konterra is that the SHA has not yet awarded the contract for ICC that would serve Konterra. If cost overruns are an issue for the project that segment of the ICC will be delayed indefinitely and will delay any development of Konterra, unless the developers shoulder a burden of the project cost.

re-

What are you talking about?

I passed by that area the other day and I see that they are progressing along with the Highway....

If there is an Indefinite Delay on Completing the ICC expect a Major Collapse in Left Wing Extremist Power in local Maryland/DC Politics because local Tax Paying Marylanders have learned that the main goal for some Maryland Dem Politicians is to Sabotage Highway Building and Economic/Business Growth in Maryland which gives some True Maryland tax payers to believe that the anti-Growth Maryland Democrat Politicians were Intentionally Bought/Endorsed by the powers that be from Virginia in the Long Term Goals of keeping Maryland FAR Behind Virginia that is now Rich in Business Growth, Upscale Development, Economic Wealth, and Highway Building....

by tim on Jul 8, 2010 12:43 am • linkreport

Mike or Tim or whoever you are, the current interchange at I-95 is part of Contract C and will not extend the ICC all the way to Route 1. That part, Contract E has yet to be awarded. Contract D involving C-D lanes on I-95 has been "deferred until further notice." Contract A,B, and C are under construction and will complete the ICC from I-370 to I-95 by 2012. It is likely that the project is over budget and that is why two contracts have been postponed. Without Contract E of the ICC, Konterra is undevelopable becuase it lacks direct I-95 access.

And actually Maryland is comparable, if not superior to Virginia in many of the categories you mentioned. I know a couple good psychiatrists you may want to talk with about your senseless and factless rants.

by Cyrus on Jul 8, 2010 1:22 am • linkreport

Dan, the Montgomery County Planning staff coordinated most recently with Prince George's County regarding the Takoma/Langley Crossroads plan. We initiated contact with the Prince George's County planning staff in May regarding the upcoming East County Science Center Plan.
glenn

by Glenn Kreger on Jul 8, 2010 9:13 am • linkreport

Cyrus said...

And actually Maryland is comparable, if not superior to Virginia in many of the categories you mentioned. I know a couple good psychiatrists you may want to talk with about your senseless and factless rants.

re-

Urah, Don't try that CON Man BS Crap with me because if you can't name ONE Single Region in Montgomery and PG County that could Fit the Size of Tysons Corner(the Second Largest Business District to Downtown DC), Virginia and have the largest Combination of Highway Projects that would measure up to the Virginia Beltway Widening, I-95 Widening, I-66 Widening, Springfield Interchange then your Argument is TOTALLY NULL and just reeks for "look at me I am being a smartass" attention..........

Until Maryland widens I-495, widens the B-W Parkway, widens US Highway 50, widens I-270, Extend I-95/270 into Downtown DC, Build a High Speed Subway to BWI from DC, Build a Conscentration of Office Buildings mixed with Hotels and Multi-Level Upscale Shopping Malls then Suburban Maryland can Compete with Northern Virginia....

Stop Playing games because I know what I speak off and I travel to several places to know that Suburban Maryland is getting Crushed by Virginia's Business and Economic Growth.....

If suburban Maryland is doing soo much better than Virginia then there wouldn't be soo many Maryland Tax Payers Working and Shopping in Northern Virginia............

by tim on Jul 8, 2010 10:11 pm • linkreport

Hey Mike, you didn't mention that you were wrong about the ICC being delayed. You see...your rants are completely factless and ignorant. In fact Fairfax County has nothing comparable to Bethesda or Silver Spring, just some office parks and a small suburban town center in Reston. With Science City I and II and White Flint/Twinbrook (BTW the size of Tysons) on the verge of developing as mixed use transit-oriented mini-cities, Fairfax is playing catch up with Tysons with its planned 8 lane arterials and skywalks that will only result in the gridlock of the Northern Virginia economic engine and will shift development to the Biotech Triangle in suburban Maryland where Montgomery County has spents decades building a superior quality of life infrastructure. The tables are turning on Northern Virginia with major companies moving out such as Sallie Mae, research aspirations going dry with the death of Ignite and future defense budget cuts will undermine any job growth there. Mike, i'd be investing in Maryland, where the future lies.

by Cyrus on Jul 8, 2010 11:22 pm • linkreport

@tim

What's with the Random Capitalization?

by Matthias on Jul 9, 2010 12:42 pm • linkreport

Cyrus said...

Hey Mike, you didn't mention that you were wrong about the ICC being delayed. You see...your rants are completely factless and ignorant. In fact Fairfax County has nothing comparable to Bethesda or Silver Spring, just some office parks and a small suburban town center in Reston. With Science City I and II and White Flint/Twinbrook (BTW the size of Tysons) on the verge of developing as mixed use transit-oriented mini-cities, Fairfax is playing catch up with Tysons with its planned 8 lane arterials and skywalks that will only result in the gridlock of the Northern Virginia economic engine and will shift development to the Biotech Triangle in suburban Maryland where Montgomery County has spents decades building a superior quality of life infrastructure. The tables are turning on Northern Virginia with major companies moving out such as Sallie Mae, research aspirations going dry with the death of Ignite and future defense budget cuts will undermine any job growth there. Mike, i'd be investing in Maryland, where the future lies.

re:

Hey Cavaan I know its you....

The real Cyrus would not this damn stupid.........

by tim on Jul 14, 2010 12:12 am • linkreport

Matthias-

@tim

What's with the Random Capitalization?

re-

Do you have psychological issues?

Quit asking me retarded questions.......

by tim on Jul 14, 2010 12:13 am • linkreport

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