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Developing in a Smart Growth Climate: A Developer’s Perspective
The White Flint area of North Bethesda is a unique asset to Montgomery County, MD, a suburb immediately north of Washington D.C. White Flint holds major growth potential in the local economy as a commercial center located directly on a Metro subway station and containing the County’s conference center, and as a redevelopment site for mixed-use projects. With an urban service area already supported by existing infrastructure and a Metro line, White Flint is poised to be a regional draw for shopping and a haven for its fiercely loyal residents.
However, White Flint currently suffers from significant mobility problems. Missing sidewalks and crosswalks, lack of a street network, and limited travel routes restrict growth and hurt White Flintʼs quality of life. These problems detract from valuable existing transportation infrastructure investments such as the Metro Redline and extensive regional bus services. More importantly, these concerns and an inability by public officials to craft a workable solution jeopardized the potential redevelopment opportunity.
The development community is poised to redevelop along Rockville Pike, a major retail spine, but also a north-south state road. The success, and frankly the feasibility, of any redevelopment project would come to depend on the success of mobility and accessibility through the Rockville Pike corridor. Though, the problems facing White Flint are greater than any one agency or developer could solve alone, a redraft of the area’s Master Plan provided the platform to develop a broad solution. Once this effort started however, the requisite density for development incentives was (seemingly) at odds with transportation solutions. Stakeholders equated density to traffic, rather than embracing the ideals of smart growth.
Five independent development teams and landholders realized that through Stakeholder collaboration the whole would be greater than the parts. The development community hosted a public process between the local residents, Montgomery County Planning Commission staff, and the development community to identify macro-level transportation and planning solutions for the sector. A series of key design principles were developed and tested to increase the walkability and transportation movement of the sector.
This panel will discuss the source of traffic and transportation solutions, the collaboration process with state and local officials and citizens, and enacting the broad solutions though the Master Plan.