******Gaithersburg Development Thread****** (Baltimore, Silver Spring, Germantown: sale, condominiums, loan)
Washington, DC suburbs in MarylandCalvert County, Charles County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County
Please register to participate in our discussions with 1.5 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
Gaithersburg eyes development at county fairgrounds
Officials from the Montgomery County Agricultural Center have provided a glimpse of what the county fairgrounds' sprawling 63-acre site might someday become: a 1,350-house neighborhood with more than 1 million square feet of commercial and office space.
The vision includes buildings that soar up to 12 stories and new on-ramps to the surrounding highways and interstates.
The details were revealed as part of the center's application to the city of Gaithersburg to rezone the property from industrial and light residential to a mixed-use planning code.
The agricultural center — a nonprofit organization that owns and operates the fairgrounds — said the rezoning is needed to increase the value of the land and ensure the organization's future in Montgomery County.
"One of the biggest problems we've had in this process of asking for a rezoning is trying to keep a cap on everybody's suspicion that there's something happening here," the center's attorney James Clifford told the city council. "I assure you that the fairgrounds is not for sale. We have no plans to leave. We love our place here in the city, but we have some stewardship that we have to take care of and that's what this process is about."
Center officials have been preparing for years to make the land more valuable, Clifford said.
In 2006, the strategic planning committee started work on the mock plans for the new town center at the site, which is surrounded by development on all sides.
Any time a property is rezoned for mixed use, the owner must submit a sketch plan that shows the proposed uses and where they would be.
Clifford could not say how much the center has invested in the plans, but said many people involved, including himself, were donating their time.
City fees for a rezoning request are about $2,000, city planning director Greg Ossont said.
Center officials do not know how much value the land could gain by a rezoning, Clifford said. "To put it in its appropriate zone, that generally increases value," he said.
The agricultural center's board wanted to pursue the zoning change because any financing for fairgrounds projects hinges on the land's value.
"Most farms are land poor – they have more value in land than anything else – so having a good value on the land is critical," Clifford said.
He and others referred to the mockups the agriculture center had created as a "bubble plan."
"One of the things we have to be careful of here is trying to talk specifics about a plan that really doesn't exist," Clifford said. "It may never exist. We have options on the table that go everywhere from redeveloping the site into a more modern, more up-to-date fairgrounds to arenas. We don't know what else might surface."
Council members and planning commissioners still suggested how the plans could be changed to create a better development.
Commissioner Leonard Levy said he thought the mixed-use buildings should be clustered at the middle of the site.
Councilman Michael Sesma wanted the unique character of the fairgrounds' history highlighted and a greater focus on green spaces.
"In some ways, not having a lot of detail is a blessing, because it lets our imagination run wild," Sesma said. "On the other hand, you've given us a few details about aspects of this. Since you've given us that detail, I think I can be critical of it."
Before anything can be built at the site, a developer must submit specific housing, road and design plans. At that time, the developer would be required to pass the city's adequate public facilities ordinance tests, which examine a development's effect on city infrastructure, roads and schools.
Only one member of the public testified during the Feb. 22 hearing. Tom Rowse called the plan "perfect" and said bogging the process down with too many details could hurt the future of the fairgrounds.
After the public hearing, the city council and planning commission each voted to accept written comments indefinitely as part of the public record. A study session for a more in-depth look at the plans will be scheduled in the future.
The grounds and buildings at 16 Chestnut St. were assessed at $17.7 million in January 2009, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.
The Montgomery County Fairgrounds were purchased in 1949 for $12,500.
If the fairgrounds land is ever sold, the profits must be reinvested into another fairgrounds property in the county, according to the agricultural center's charter.
In the first week of January, representatives from the Maryland Stadium Authority — the state agency that plans, finances, builds and manages sports and entertainment facilities in Maryland — toured the fairgrounds with executive director Martin Svrcek and the center's strategic planning committee.
A Montgomery County arena feasibility study was created for the commission in June 2007. The study found that "the market will readily support a Montgomery County arena" and suggested a size of 6,500 to 8,500 fixed seats with a total capacity of up to 10,000.
Monday, the Gaithersburg council moved forward with negotiations with Olde Towne Park Development Partners for the development of 315 East Diamond Ave. The developer will build 60,000 square feet of office and retail space.
Part of that project includes the renovation of a city-owned plaza at the corner of Diamond and Summit avenues, which city officials hope will add charm to the area and attract visitors.
"We want our Olde Towne to be something that we can again be proud of and we want to do it in such a way that people will want to come down and enjoy it," Mayor Sidney Katz said.
Last edited by MDAllstar; 04-07-2011 at 03:11 PM..
Commuter Express Buses from Gaithersburg To BWI and Gaithersburg to Fort Meade on the ICC have now started running
GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WUSA) -- Two new express bus routes began service Tuesday using the Intercounty Connector to link Gaithersburg with BWI Marshall Airport and Fort Meade. The routes will be free to riders for the next two weeks.
Route 201 begins at the Gaithersburg Park & Ride on Quince Orchard Road near I-270. It makes stops at the Shady Grove Metro Station, the Norbeck Park & Ride Lot (Route 28 east of Georgia Avenue), and the Burtonsville Park & Ride Lot (Route 198 at Old Route 29). It then heads north to make two stops at BWI Marshall Airport as well as the BWI MARC and Amtrak station. The trip between Gaithersburg and BWI will take 75 minutes and operates seven days a week.
THE OPEN ROAD: First Phase Of ICC Toll Road Open To Drivers
Route 202 also begins at the Gaithersburg Park & Ride Lot. It makes stops as well at the Shady Grove Metro Station and the Norbeck Park & Ride Lot. It then uses I-95 and Route 32 to make stops at the Savage MARC station, NSA on Canine Road, and then five stops within Fort Meade. Proper identification is needed to ride the bus inside Fort Meade. The entire trip takes 80 minutes and operates Monday through Friday, except holidays.
Both buses will be free through Tuesday, March 15. After that, the full adult one-way fare is $5.00. For part of the journey, the bus routes will utilize the new ICC toll road before moving on to local roads. When the entire highway opens, the bus will shift most of its route there.
400,000 square feet can be developed in first stage
Developers are eager to lay claim to a piece of the 4,360 acres of the Great Seneca Science Corridor in Gaithersburg — nicknamed Science City — but the first stage of expansion allows for only so much growth.
Two property owners, Alexandria Real Estate Equities of Pasadena, Calif., and Johns Hopkins University of Baltimore, have announced plans for portions of the 400,000 square feet of new commercial space that will be allowed in the corridor — west of Interstate 270 at the Montgomery Avenue exit — during the first stage, set to begin in July.
Johns Hopkins' plans are vague, but the university wants to work with other developers to create a town center near its Montgomery County Campus, 9601 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, as well as develop 170,000 square feet of new education and research space on the campus.
The town center would be near a planned stop for the Corridor Cities Transitway, a proposed 14-mile rapid transit system linking Gaithersburg and Clarksburg.
The center would include retail space and restaurants, and could become a vibrant meeting place for those using the transit system, according to David McDonough of Johns Hopkins.
The town center plan is difficult to envision now, and would require coordination with other developers, said Marilyn Balcombe of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce, co-chairwoman of a Science City advisory committee that heard the plans March 15.
"Now is the time to do that collaboration, before people start developing and planning," she said.
The committee was created to guide the corridor's development and make sure it aligns with the area's master plan.
The first preliminary plan for stage one, submitted by Alexandria Real Estate, could be heard by the county planning board as soon as July, said Steve Findley, a Montgomery County planner.
Alexandria now leases 281,279 square feet to bioscience companies on 18 acres at 9800 Medical Center Drive, Rockville. Its tenants, such as Advanced Bioscience Laboratories, fill four multistory buildings.
Alexandria's proposal seeks 236,000 square feet of new commercial space, which could house 500 to 700 bioscience jobs, according to Lawrence J. Diamond, senior vice president of the mid-Atlantic region.
The company would build two additional life sciences buildings for wet labs and a parking garage, on a site now occupied by parking lots.
Alexandria is finalizing its preliminary plan after meeting with the county's development review committee last month; the final plans could be heard at a planning board meeting as soon as July.
Johns Hopkins presented plans for 108 acres of farmland in the corridor bordered by Muddy Branch and Darnestown roads, known as the Belward Farm. About 1.4 million square feet of space for agricultural, academic, medical care or research uses has been approved for the land.
Preliminary plan for this space will be heard by the county's development review committee in April, Findley said.
Along with the commercial space, 2,500 new residential units will be allowed during the first stage. BNA Washington, which owns 11 acres off Key West Avenue, has applied to the county for some of that space, Findley said.
Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, 9901 Medical Center Drive, also submitted an application, but Findley said he had not seen its plan.
Seven million square feet of commercial space lie within the Great Seneca Science Corridor, which wraps around Key West Avenue, Shady Grove Road and Great Seneca Highway.
Plans call for the corridor to develop within 20 to 30 years to about 17.5 million square feet of commercial space, with 9,000 residential units and some retail space. The plan is divided into four stages, with conditions for each, to ensure it stays aligned with development of the Corridor Cities Transitway and other transportation goals.
- Approved development: 10.7 million square feet commercial; 5,800 residential units
- Stage 1: 400,000 square feet commercial; 2,500 residential units
First, the county must fund and begin operating a program to monitor and record transportation in the area, and must document a baseline of what transportation is used. The county also must develop programs to monitor projects in for the area. These programs are set to be completed by July.
- Stage 2: 2.3 million square feet commercial, 2,000 residential units
First, construction must begin on the Corridor Cities Transitway from the Shady Grove Metro station to Metropolitan Grove.
- Stage 3: 2.3 million square feet commercial, 1,200 residential units
First, at least 50 percent of construction funds for the Corridor Cities Transitway must be spent.
- Stage 4: 1.8 million square feet commercial, no additional residential units
First, the Corridor Cities Transitway must be running from the Shady Grove Metro station to Clarksburg.
Gaithersburg library closing for two years of renovations
The Gaithersburg Library will close its doors for two years of renovations at 5 p.m. Saturday, but it still does not have a place to call its temporary home.
"We're still in a holding pattern," library manager Linda Gimourginas said.
The library,18330 Montgomery Village Ave., was supposed to shut down April 1, but the closing was pushed back to May 16 while county officials negotiated to offer temporary library services at Lakeforest Shopping Center.
The project, estimated to cost $22.7 million — about $6 million more than costs projected in July 2009 — involves gutting the 28-year-old building to replace the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, replacing the furniture and expanding the main floor. A 7,500-square-foot second story will be added to house a large meeting room, several classrooms and a satellite office of the Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity, a resource center for immigrants seeking legal, language and social services.
Designs show 22,000 square feet added to the existing 37,000-square-foot building.
County leasing agents are in negotiations with Lakeforest mall management for a 3,000-square-foot space where residents could continue to receive basic library service. The goal is to open the temporary library by July 5.
The smaller space will house about 15,000 books for lending but will not have computers for public use, Montgomery County Public Libraries public services administrator Rita Gale said.
Staffing will be lean. The proposed Montgomery County fiscal 2011 operating budget will eliminating 71 library positions, 53 of which now are filled, she said. The 22.6 percent reduction in staffing is projected to save about $1.46 million.
The county plans will receive bids in mid-summer for the Gaithersburg Library construction, start construction by mid-October and complete it in 18 months. The library is expected to re-open in spring 2012.
The county's recommended budget calls for eliminating all positions at the Gaithersburg Library starting in July, save for the few necessary to run the interim facility, Gale said. When the renovated library reopens, Montgomery County Public Libraries will have the positions reinstated.
In the county's proposed budget, temporary locations for the Gaithersburg and the Olney libraries — also scheduled to close for renovations later this year — will have reduced hours and be closed Sundays, for a savings of nearly $70,000 in fiscal 2011.
With the Gaithersburg and Olney closings, visits to county library will shrink by 1.5 million to about 8.1 million in fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012, according to statistics prepared by Montgomery County Public Libraries Director B. Parker Hamilton in October.
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $53,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.
Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.