Welcome to The Dark Side of White Flint, an ongoing series about the not-so-wonnerful, wonnerful, wonnerful side of urbanizing the suburbs of Montgomery County.
The end is nigh for the venerable strip mall structure at Mid-Pike Plaza, which is currently being transformed from a suburban shopping center into a small-scale urban city. Toys R Us had moved within the center from its legendary spot on the south end; in January, it closed altogether. Now the remaining businesses in the structure are gone, and no public access is allowed - only construction vehicles.
A separate, free-standing retail structure with Starbucks remains accessible on the property.
Here for history, and posterity, are some of the final moments, images and memories of this classic Montgomery County shopping center. Mid-Pike Plaza was born decades ago, when it and Montrose Crossing were prime real estate along the future route of the DC Outer Beltway. Later, the Outer Beltway (a.k.a. I-370/Intercounty Connector) route was moved north, and the interstate's right-of-way was designated as the future Rockville Freeway.
Property owned by the Maryland State Highway Administration that was set aside for an off-ramp from the Rockville Freeway onto southbound Rockville Pike (MD 355) remains visible on records and blueprints for the new development that is replacing Mid-Pike Plaza. Of course, the county failed to build the Rockville Freeway, as well. The Montrose Parkway was built using some of the Rockville Freeway's right-of-way, but does not have the more-effective cloverleaf interchange needed to provide the maximum traffic congestion relief.
E.J. Korvette was a tenant from the early days, a department store chain that rose to prominence along with the American suburbs, as cities declined. Korvette's was the Walmart of its time, undercutting prices of its traditional retail competitors. There is a reference to Korvette's on many old documents for Mid-Pike Plaza, as well. This was before my time, but it makes me wonder if the whole site originated as a Korvette's? And, what year did Korvette's close? Is it possible I was just too young to remember it? If you know the answers, please leave a comment below!
For now, we prepare to say farewell to a classic shopping center on the busiest commercial strip in the state of Maryland. Though it falls at the hands of urbanization, it will not be forgotten.
I'll conclude with the words of Bill Shakespeare: