Located on a now partially-wooded site bordered by Rock Spring Drive to the south, Rockledge Drive to the west, the I-270 spur to the north, and Old Georgetown Road to the east, the project is almost identical to the one that former development partner Peterson Cos. backed out of in the fall of 2012.
There will be 549,900 SF of office space, 210,000 SF of retail, 90,000 SF of below-ground entertainment space (minus the Silverspot Theatres, which were no longer viable after ArcLight Cinemas and iPic Theatres opened nearby), a 200-room hotel, and 161 apartments. This means that the project remains truly mixed-use, in comparison to the not-so-smart-growth trend of deleting office space in Montgomery County.
One resident in the crowd asked if Walter Johnson students would skip class to patronize the entertainment options at Rock Spring Centre. "We hope they will," Chuck Irish of the engineering firm VIKA joked to laughter. Robins used the light moment to segue into a serious discussion of the pedestrian safety aspects of the plan, particularly how they relate to WJ. The median on Rock Spring Drive will be extended the length of the street to Rockledge, and a pedestrian barrier will prevent any crossing other than at controlled intersections.
|Michael Perucci of DRI (far left) and|
attorney Steve Robins (right) present
Rock Spring Centre plans
The time frame for that plan has been the question on the minds of many of my readers.
Michael Perucci, Development Manager at DRI, said, "We're in talks with an investor" who will take the place of the now-departed partner Peterson. Perucci said he expects that unnamed investor will be on-board in about a month. The company will then go to the building design phase, he said.
Robins noted that the delay can't go on forever, because DRI has existing approvals that will expire if the development isn't built within their time frame.
"Where are those kids going to school," one resident asked of the 161 apartments. "We're already at 120%" of capacity, she said. Perucci told several concerned residents after the meeting that he has attended all of the Rock Spring meetings, and fully understands their concerns about school overcrowding, having attended Montgomery County schools in portable classrooms himself. He said that even though developers have to pay fees for school construction, they have no control over where the County ultimately spends those dollars.
I asked Perucci about the future of the 90,000 SF entertainment space, now that the theater won't happen. He said it is too early to predict what type of tenants might end up down there, or if the company will even build out the full 90,000 SF. He did say DRI expects "a mix of national retailers and mom-and-pops. A mixture of restaurants, apparel, [and] maybe a grocer."
The renderings of this project, created by the Boston firm Arrowstreet, look fantastic. Let's hope the final designs resemble this, or are even better.
It would be great if they got a tenant like Dave and Buster's or a bowling alley for the underground entertainment space. Neither type of business requires windows. (Although it couldn't likely be D&B, as they've already signed on at Ellsworth Place in Silver Spring.) Pinstripes is going to open up the road at Pike & Rose. I believe Jillian's is down to a couple of California locations at this point. Lucky Strike?
Add your suggestions for entertainment tenants in the comments below.
Later in the meeting, McLean Quinn, Vice President of Land Acquisition and Development at EYA, announced that 19 of the 168 luxury townhomes at the firm's Montgomery Row development have been sold. He said you can expect to see the first homes rising out of the ground at the site at Fernwood Road and Rock Spring Drive in the next 2-3 weeks.
The site had previously been slated for a 439,063 SF office building under an out-of-state owner, before being purchased by EYA.
Renderings courtesy DRI/Arrowstreet
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Photo by Robert Dyer