Tuesday, July 16, 2019

White Flint project slashing planned retail/restaurant space

Developer ProMark is slashing the planned retail and restaurant space in its East Village at North Bethesda Gateway project, another troubling sign of moribundity in the White Flint sector plan area. Only Federal Realty has delivered a fully-realized development since the sector plan passed in 2010. While Federal Realty has delivered on its end of the bargain with its successful Pike & Rose property, its CEO has criticized Montgomery County officials for failing to deliver on their end. Inertia and incompetence among the County's elected officials has been compounded by the jurisdiction's hostile business climate. Both factors are crippling White Flint in its effort to compete with booming Tysons, arch-rival Fairfax County's own urban makeover project.

ProMark is asking the County Planning Board to approve a reduction in retail space at East Village from 20,000 SF to only 5000 SF, a retail footprint more in line with a boutique condo building. The developer is clearly looking at market trends, which are all tailing downward in moribund Montgomery County. With the ultra-rich fleeing to lower-tax jurisdictions in the region, there is no longer a wealth base sufficient to support high-end retail, or provide the revenue to fund promised infrastructure and amenities in White Flint and other parts of the county.

Other cost-and-risk-reducing changes in the East Village project reflect the stagnation in the local economy. The originally proposed underground garage, standard in premium luxury buildings, is being replaced with above-ground parking. And the number of residential units is being reduced from 382 to 335.

The Planning Board will take up the proposed plan revisions at its July 18 meeting. Planning staff recommends approval of the changes. East Village will be located at the corner of Nicholson Lane and Huff Court.
Montgomery County is on a fiscal trajectory
towards bankruptcy
Can Montgomery County go on like this? At rock bottom in the region by every relevant economic development benchmark, with revenue declining despite record-high taxes, and with debt so massive that - if the debt were a department in the County government - it would be the third-largest department, the alarm bells are beginning to go off. Those alarms are being heard in New York City, where bond rating agencies are alerting current and potential Montgomery County investors that actions by the County Council have put MoCo's AAA bond rating in danger.


Anonymous said...

OMG no. Guess I'm moving to VA now :O(

Anonymous said...

"Only Federal Realty has delivered a fully-realized development since the sector plan passed in 2010."

Shout-out to the sponsor. LOL

Anna said...

¡el cielo se está cayendo!

Suze said...

Can you clarify? Is this where Quincy's is, or the empty lot across the street? And would you mind linking to the development application on Parks & Planning's site? I think that would be really helpful.

Anonymous said...

For those that might be curious, this type of architecture is what is known as a modified version of a “Texas Donut”. Perhaps the most economical methodology to create dense housing and cost effective parking.

You start with a simple above ground parking deck, built with cheap cast concrete exterior fire walls. Then you wrap it with a one story high base of more robust concrete construction, topped by four or five levels of very light weight construction that wraps around the four sides of the parking deck. Single loaded multiple family housing wraps the parking so nobody has to look at parked cars.

In this case they have modified the typology to add a second courtyard that does have interior facing units, overlooking outdoor amenity space on top of the robust one story base with some retail shops. This type of multifamily construction is by far the most common way to create dense housing on properties that allow 6 stories, and that are roughly square in plan. It doesn’t work on narrow lots.

By maximizing the amount of lower cost wood or lightweight metal framed apartments, the building cost is minimized. As someone who has designed many of these four over one, or five over one multifamily apartment buildings, I highly recommend seeking out a top floor unit if you are considering renting one of these. The noise generated from foot traffic on floors above lightweight construction is almost impossible to isolate. Impact noises like foot steps on wood or “luxury” vinyl flooring, or ceramic tile, is almost alway transmitted to lower floors. Even simple stereo speakers placed on light weight floors can create huge sound transmission problems, even with car-erred floors, and a constant source of tenant complainants. I highly recommend all concrete construction, but if you have to live in a lightweight metal or wood framed building, insist on a top floor apartment.

The net change on this project is really only the deletion of the retail that faced north on Nicholson Road. I would suggest with the sluggish rate of development in White Flint, this strip of retail would be vacant for a long time, or leased only to service retailers. Probably a wise choice to swap it out with townhouse style units with grade level entrances along that street. Maybe in the future, these could become “live-work” units, for residents that might want to run a small business, art studio or gallery out of their apartment, with direct street-side access.

I am surprise we don’t see more ove these live-work style units in the area, as they are a very popular way to include flexible housing, but still of limited commercial uses in areas where fully dedicated retail does not make sense. Sometimes these types of spaces are double height, with tall flex space on the street level with exterior entrances, and more dedicated living and bedrooms upstairs, with a stairway in the unit. Great for artists and photographers to have a studio in their residence. Even coffee shops and small furniture showrooms can work in these flex spaces. Many are used by semi-retired folks, who want to continue their law practice or consultation services for home.

Anna said...

Is this the medical research buildings and lot?

It looks like between the 2 roads you used to get into WF mall. The entrance on the right in this pic goes to Shopper's & WF Plaza?

Anonymous said...

@6:37 But don't you need to use steel and concrete for structural reasons once a building is more than 4 stories? Wood just can't support it.

Anonymous said...

Type 5A wood or lightweight steel framing can be used to self-support up to five stories. Often at this height, 2x6 walls, with studs 12” on center are required on the lowest floors. That’s why five stories on a one story high Type Ia (fireproofed steel, masonry or concrete) base makes the most sense to get up to six floors. The IBC (International Building Code) allows up to five stories over one story of more robust construction for multi-family residential uses, provided that adequate fire exits and maximum floor sizes are not exceeded.

Most buildings like this utilized lightweight exterior cladding above 30 feet, as wood framing can support brick veneer lintels above 30’. All these constraints and limitations are one of the reasons that so many buildings of this type all look the same. Repetitive living and bedroom window sizes and spacing, and stacked balconies, also create a typology that always seems to produce the same look. Architect have a real challenge when owners demand this type of stick-built construction. Very few variables to make unique and iconic buildings when so many of the components are pre-determined. The variety of the facade cladding is one area where some unique design can be achieved.

Elevator and stair cores are usually constructed of cast concrete, precast concrete or load bearing masonry at this height, primarily to brace the lightweight faking of the building for wind shear, and to create fire separated shafts for fire stairs and elevators.

There is also Type 3 construction that allows the use of cold-formed steel framing, which can carry more weight, up to about 8 stories. It is often used for hotels, as the cold-formed steel walls can be combined with short span precast concrete floors, common for short span hotel room framing.

Anonymous said...

"Developer ProMark is slashing the planned retail and restaurant space in its East Village at North Bethesda Gateway project from 20,000 SF to only 5000 SF"

20,000 SF of retail space isn't exactly huge. It's equal to about four small stores. The Shoppers next door is more than twice that.

The developer is probably just waiting to see who gets the Shoppers space, and how the Retail Apocalypse in general plays out. The parking lot for the residences is probably just a placeholder for the postponed retail space.

Roald said...

Amazon HQ2 was MoCo's hail mary pass that was going to cure all ills in White Flint.

What a difference a year makes.

Looking forward to new development!

Anonymous said...

8:00 AM Gentle reminder that other sites claimed, falsely, that Sears was closing in early 2018..until Sears forced them to retract the story. The other sites reported without contacting a live human being.

Meanwhile, Dyer broke the story on the true closing date and had exclusive video of the emotional final sign off my employees at Sears :)

Anonymous said...

Flashback: County employee tries to annex Twinbrook from City of Rockville into "White Flint"
acknowledging there isn't enough critical mass to be successful

Anna said...

Actually that's a lie.
SEARS never forced anyone to retract.
SEARS filed public papers that they were leaving.
Once SEARS realized SEARS' error, SEARS was forced to act to fix it.

For future reference, lying kinda takes the sting out of the slur.

Anonymous said...

8:29am Sears was livid about the lies from other sites. They demanded retractions.
Of course no one could admit they blew it. They'll never be journalists if they can't admit a huge mistake.

Anonymous said...

Imagine you claim to dislike Robert Dyer but are sentenced to spending every morning refreshing all of the MoCo news sites on his network.

Anonymous said...

FYI, most of this article is incorrect, including the lead developer and the circumstances surrounding the retail optimization, among other things.

Rugby said...

I wish Lerner would have created some temporary uses of the demolished White Flint Mall instead of leaving a hole in the heart of the community.

In tysons, they have Lerner Town Square which is about to welcome Cirque du Soleil back for a run. It's just an open plot of land where they can have Oktoberfests and other events.

All that surface parking and metro right there.

Anonymous said...

"I wish Lerner would have created some temporary uses of the demolished White Flint Mall instead of leaving a hole in the heart of the community."

They have a poor track record in this regard. Case in point: Landover Mall.

Even the Tysons site you mention (right at the Metro) is an unattractive eyesore 95% of the year.

Unless they are getting some outlandish return, Lerner will sit on these sites forever, regardless of the impact to the surrounding community. I'm sure this greed was a factor (among others) why Amazon chose Crystal City over White Flint. Seeing dollar signs, Lerner even tried to force out minority business partners to gain full ownership.

Anonymous said...

Imagine you love Robert Dyer but are sentenced to spending every morning and afternoon refreshing all of the comments on all of the MoCo news sites on his network.

Anonymous said...

"They have a poor track record in this regard. Case in point: Landover Mall."

I forgot that they owned both White Flint and "Black Flint".

Anonymous said...

How many hamburgers can you eat for dinner? I bet you can't eat more than 5 you loser.

Cinco de Mayo said...

"...troubling sign of moribundity...."
You don't appear troubled; more like delighted.

Anonymous said...

What a contrast today. Fascinating, expert commentary — thank you! — makes the usual anti-Dyer sludge look even more pathetic than usual. Still, we’ll always have Anna.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:42 - Yes, I heard Mr. Sears bodyslammed that intern from Frederick into a glass coffee table, that's how livid he was!

Anonymous said...

It looks like they aren't reducing the size of the residential development, just dividing the space into fewer but larger apartments. Great news for families!

Anonymous said...

So Robert, what are you proposing/supporting for the site? What should the MoCo planning staff be doing with the proposal? What should the MoCo Planning Board be doing with the proposal? Should they condition it? Should they reject it? What constructive recommendation would you make?

Anonymous said...

White Flint is gridlocked at rush hour - miles from the nearest highway. The County is foolish to continue to promote office space in White Flint.

Anonymous said...

7:59 Again: I'll take the lack of response as NONE!