Thursday, June 21, 2018

Westfield unveils new urban-style development plan for Montgomery Mall (Photos)

The "Winter Garden" indoor promenade proposed
for Westfield Montgomery Mall's new urban
development addition
Westfield unveiled its proposal for a new, urban-style development addition at Montgomery Mall at a public meeting in Bethesda last night. Featuring new high-end retail and restaurants, a hotel, and 682 apartments, the addition will replace the existing Sears store and surface parking on that side of the mall property. Throwing out phrases like "iconic destination," and featuring a Swedish "woonerf" as a design centerpiece, the plan appears to set the stage for a future transformation of the mall property in the coming decades.
Heritage Court area
The rollout got off to a bumpy start when someone at Westfield decided to leak the plans and renderings to a local media outlet several hours before the 7:00 PM meeting, perhaps seeking a favorable report. A Westfield representative who led the meeting then appeared to refer to that outlet's report, as if it had been widely read, causing confused looks among a crowd that obviously had no clue what he was referring to. Favoring one media outlet over others is not a smart PR strategy, to say the least.
The "Woonerf," a Swedish-conceived
"calming street" that will bisect the new
urban area at Montgomery Mall
Westfield is comparing the new development to Federal Realty's Pike & Rose. The architecture will "reflect the seasonal, wooded quality of the community, combined with a modern, urbane feel." It will be anchored by three main design elements - the Winter Garden, Heritage Court, and the aforementioned woonerf. The woonerf is a Swedish concept for a "calming" street, designed to be used simultaneously by pedestrians, cyclists and automobiles, and equipped with "traffic calming features."

The first two phases of the project are
the Winter Garden/Apartment building 1, and
apartment building 2
None of the buildings are supposed to be taller than the new ArcLight Cinemas nearby on the mall property. Parking will be handled by new garages under the residential and retail, as well as a new garage behind a new retail building, that will be constructed where the current ring road meets the edge of the current Sears parking lot.

Two renderings of the site plan

Westfield acknowledges that Ashburton Elementary School is overcrowded, and says it will be unable to move forward with any residential portion of the development until there is capacity. How that is possible when Phase 1A includes an apartment building is unclear. Construction of the Winter Garden is anticipated to begin next year, after Sears closes on March 31 and is demolished. The Winter Garden is designed to function as the transition zone between the indoor mall and the new development, as an indoor promenade for year-round use.
Partners for the project
Heritage Court, by contrast, will emphasize open space and the outdoors. It will cross the Woonerf, and connect the two separate apartment buildings, and another building with retail and "creative office" space. Renderings give it a Bethesda Row-esque appearance. The hotel and yet another retail structure will be located at the other end of the Woonerf. Westfield is promising one parking space per apartment, and four spaces for every 1000 SF of retail.
Heritage Court and Paseos; an
ice rink is shown a possible winter feature
Construction of the new development is anticipated to be completed by 2022. Westfield will file its preliminary and site plans in late June or early July (MCPS paper schools, er, "placeholders" take effect July 1, so watch that date). The plans require an amendment to the existing plan it received approval for in 2015.
A display of transportation modes for the
new development, and arrival patterns
The rest of the existing mall, minus Sears, will remain intact for this project. Last night's meeting was set up as an open house; one-on-one conversations at the displays were designed to answer questions.
The mall's 2015 approved site plan

Design concepts

The existing retail center

Many questions

Stormwater management plan

Woonerf design concepts


Anonymous said...

"The 'Woonerf,' a Swedish-conceived 'calming street'"

"Woonerf" is a Dutch term, Birdbrain.

Try travelling outside the USA sometime.

Baloney Concrete said...

Glad to see some novel, engaging designs for what should make for some nice public spaces. Clearly Westfield sees quite a bit of potential in our vibrant community!

Maloney Concrete said...

Westfield is moving where the market is going. Their renovations were a success, now offer a new open air shopping/dining area.
Big competition for Pike & Rose!

Emily Littella said...

What's all this talk about "nude development at Montgomery Mall"?

Anonymous said...

"Favoring one media outlet over others is not a smart PR strategy, to say the least."

Actually favoring the only serious source of news in Montgomery County over a bitter, alt-right blogger makes a lot of sense.

Barwood Sucks said...

7:24am the legacy print media source is hardly serious. According to them, Sears is already closed :)

Baloney Concrete said...

Barwood Sucks’ reading comprehension sucks.

Steve said...

11:12 AM Agreed! Everyone should cover public meetings from their bedrooms in Frederick.
Simply have the PR firm send you the marketing materials and voila!

Robert Dyer said...

5:03: Tell Westfield - they're the ones saying it is Swedish. A successful corporation like Westfield probably has more credibility than an anonymous troll.

7:24: The former blogger you are referring to is indeed bitter, but hardly alt-right.

Anonymous said...

"A >woonerf (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈʋoːnɛrf]) is a living street, as originally implemented in the Netherlands and in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium. Techniques include shared space, traffic calming, and low speed limits. Under Article 44 of the Dutch traffic code, motorised traffic in a woonerf or "recreation area" is restricted to walking pace."

Baloney Concrete said...

I hate to break it to you, Mr. Dyer, but if it's true that the woonerf is Dutch (and not Swedish) then you have filed a False Report, according to a certain group of your readers. (But not me. If that's what Westfield said, then let them have their Swedish street!)

Anonymous said...

Bethesda Magazine finally reports the Sears closure date hours after Dyer.
I have no words.

Anonymous said...

6:10 PM is the same guy who claims that Bethesda Magazine has only a print edition, that publishes once a year.

Anonymous said...

I am on this blog for the first time. It is full of ridiculous back and forth sniping. How stupid.