Projects Underway and Previously Reported
State of Housing Development. The growth of housing in Montgomery County between 2010 and 2020 lagged behind all but one of the ten largest jurisdictions in the D.C. region, according to an analysis by Adam Pagnucco,. The net result is that demand for housing far exceeds supply, which has led to the expected increase in housing prices, rents, and taxes, as property values increase. This, according to Pagnucco, is in spite of various legislative, planning and budgetary initiatives undertaken by the County Council to encourage housing, including the passage of Thrive 2050, more public money for affordable housing, tax abatements for housing at Metro stations, and the abolition of school-crowding moratoriums on housing construction. In his article, Pagnucco discusses various reasons that developers have given him for their reluctance to build in the County. The ones he says he hears most often are “…’uncertainty’ and ‘risk.’ They do not trust the county’s leadership to avoid intervening in the economics of their projects and investments.”
Updated January 10, 2023
Energy Use Standards for Buildings. It is estimated that buildings create 50% of County’s total emissions. The Council passed two bills in 2022 that will affect buildings in the County.
In April, the Council passed a bill intended to establish building energy performance standards that specific buildings will have to meet in the coming years in order to reduce their overall carbon footprint. The standards apply to multiple types of commercial and residential buildings in the county that have a gross floor area of 25,000 square feet or more. A board of industry and civic representatives, nominated by the County Executive and approved by the Council, will advise the Council on interim and final standards for each building type. The standards must be ready by the end of 2023.
In November 2023, the Council voted unanimously to pass Bill 13-22, which will require the County Executive to issue all-electric building standards for new construction by Dec. 31, 2026. The bill included exemptions for emergency backup systems and certain uses such as manufacturing, crematories, life sciences and commercial kitchens. In addition, income-restricted housing and schools have an extended timeline. Pepco and PJM, the manager of regional grid of which Pepco is a member has expressed reservations, summarized in a blog by Adam Pagucco, about its capacity for handling the requirements imposed by the bill.
Updated January 10, 2023
Impact of Thrive. It will take time – perhaps several years – to assess the impact of Thrive on development. The Council will first have to pass a variety of Zoning Text Amendments (ZTAs) to implement its provisions. This process should be open and transparent to the community, but before that will happen, the status of the County’s Planning Board will have to be resolved. (See next article).
Updated January 10, 2023
Status of the Planning Board. In October the County Council fired the entire Montgomery County Planning Board. As reported in the Washington Post, the “…Council members decided to fire the county’s entire planning board when seemingly fleeting personnel issues escalated within weeks, deepening fault lines that impeded the board’s ability to work together…” according to the council’s president [Gabe Albornoz, at that time].
The Council then appointed acting members to serve until a permanent board could be appointed. The acting members are: Jeffrey Zyontz, a lawyer who worked for both the planning department and the Montgomery council on land use issues; Amy Presley, a former planning board member and Clarksburg activist; Cherri Branson, the county’s former procurement chief who served a year on the council; David Hill, a former member of the Rockville Planning Commission; and Roberto Piñero, a former housing analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Three permanent members will be appointed by March 1, 2023, while the permanent chair and another member will be selected by June 14, 2023.
Senator Ben Kramer has proposed a bill in the state legislature that would study the “feasibility” of moving the functions and staff of the Planning Board from the county council into the county executive branch. Members of the Council have expressed strong opposition to this bill, which will have to be considered by the members of the Maryland legislature.
Updated January 10, 2023
- Amazon has committed $24 million to fund 122 new affordable homes in North Bethesda, as part of Strathmore Square, according to a report in the Bethesda Beat. Strathmore Square, by Fivesquares Development and Aimco, is an art-focused, healthy-living centric residential community at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station, according to Fivesquares Development website. The community will include 2,000 units stretching across eight acres while also incorporating a central open space filled with performances, gardens, classrooms and more. Updated January 10, 2023
- Crescent Communities recently filed plans with Montgomery County for Novel Bethesda, a 31-story, 450-unit residential development at multiple addresses centered around 7820 Wisconsin Avenue, currently the site of a 7-Eleven. Crescent Communities is the contract purchaser for the sites and Design Collective is the project architect. More at this website. Updated January 10, 2023
- Town of Kensington Pedestrian Plan. The Town of Kensington and the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) finalized a pedestrian and bicycling access and safety study for a portion of Connecticut Avenue. The study provides three alternative layouts for Connecticut Avenue and identifies additional safety and connectivity improvements for the surrounding area. The study will be used in the creation of the Town’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Priority Area (BPPA) Plan. The study specifically focused on Connecticut Avenue (MD 185) between Knowles Avenue and University Blvd (MD 193). Secondary study areas included Knowles Avenue (MD 547), Plyers Mill Road, Howard Avenue and University Blvd. (MD 193), which have significant connections between Connecticut Avenue (MD 185) and popular Town destinations and neighborhoods. The full press release can be seen here. Updated January 10, 2023
- Bikers rallied to show support for the new dedicated bike lanes on Old Georgetown Road, which the state is still evaluating. Some residents have criticized the lanes for extending their commutes by upwards of 20 or 30 minutes and said the changes were poorly designed, leading to confusion among motorists. An online petition opposing the new bike lanes had reportedly garnered almost 6,600 signatures, as of January 8, 2023. A rival petition supporting the bike lanes has reportedly collected about 1,500 signatures, as of the same date. According to SHA studies, the estimated delay via car at various points in the corridor were around five minutes or less, depending on the direction and time of day. Critics of the bike lanes have disputed that, saying it’s adding 20 to 30 minutes or more to their commute. Shantee Felix, a spokesperson for SHA, wrote in an email on Friday that a post-installation study of the improvements to Old Georgetown Road is underway, and officials hope it will be completed by the summer. Updated January 10, 2023
- Women Farmers’ Market. The Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market first opened in 1932 in downtown Bethesda to provide farm women a venue to sell their freshly grown produce, crafts and artisanal works. More than 90 years later, plans are moving ahead to revitalize the existing Wisconsin Avenue market, convert two nearby public parking lots into urban parks, and build an underground parking garage plus housing and retail space. In a public-private partnership, Montgomery County, the state and the adjacent town of Chevy Chase are helping developers EYA and the Bernstein Management Corp. pay for the $27.7 million project to build 3.35 acres of parks and a 200-spot underground garage that will replace the existing surface parking. The plan also includes upgrading the market itself. The garage and parks will be built by the developers, which also are planning to build 320 multi-family dwelling units, with about 48 designated as moderately priced, and to increase the amount of existing retail space from 17,500 square feet to as much as 32,000 square feet on the site, according to council documents. An existing parking lot directly behind the market and another lot between Leland and Walsh streets will be converted into park space. Updated January 14, 2023
Projects Underway and Previously Reported
- Two Buildings Planned at NW corner of Summit and Knowles
- Residences at Knowles Station and The Flats at Knowles Station
- Silver Creek Senior Living 62+
- Modena by Solera Senior Living
- Warner Circle Park
- Crossroads of Kensington
- Summit Avenue Extension
- Connecticut Avenue Corridor Safety Study
- Noyes Children’s Library
New Buildings Planned for NW corner of Summit and Knowles
Background: Two new buildings are being proposed for the northwest corner of Summit Avenue and Knowles Avenue. The basic design of the project is for two, five story buildings, one on each lot, and totally residential. There will be 75-100 units, with a split of 1 and 2 bedrooms, with numbers of each to be determined by the level of interest. Tom Brault, the developer, is also the developer of the Knowles Station Wine Company, the Residences at Knowles Station, and The flats at Knowles Station.The project is in the “pre-application” stage and no documents have been filed with Planning.
- September 15, 2022: The developer held a public meeting to present the proposal. See this report of the meeting from Clare Murphy and Kira Lueders.
Residences at Knowles Station and The Flats at Knowles Station
Background: Two building projects at the intersection of Knowles Avenue and Summit Avenue have been proposed by Woodside Builders and DVA Architects.
On the south side of Knowles there will be six townhouses, referred to as The Residences at Knowles Station; this project has been approved by the Planning Board and construction has begun.
On the north side a 95-unit apartment complex has been proposed, including some commercial activity on the ground level.
Issues: Regarding The Residences at Knowles Station, there is a right-turn-only lane on north-bound Summit for cars turning east onto Knowles. The Montgomery County Planning Board [PB] is proposing that Knowles Avenue be narrowed to accommodate a wider sidewalk and a bike lane in front to the townhouses. This proposal is still pending resolution by the State Highway Administration [SHA] , which has jurisdiction over Knowles, a state road. For The Flats at Knowles Station a study of traffic impact is pending.
Latest Update: Updates will be provided when new information from the Planning Board or the SHA is available.
More information: More design information is available from the developer and the designer.
Silver Creek Senior Living 62+ [previously Knowles Manor]
Latest Update: This new building for seniors on Knowles Avenue opposite Strosnider’s now has an onsite leasing office. 301-778-1331. According to staff, interest has been brisk and many of the one-bedroom units have been rented already.
Background: Silver Creek Senior Living 62+ will consist of 94 one- and two-bedroom units for seniors ages sixty-two and over. Income restrictions apply.
Monthly rental will be $1,370 to $$1,757.
More Information: An outline of the project can be found on the developer’s website.
Modena by Solera Senior Living
Latest update: . This facility is now open. For contact them at 240-998-9990 or email@example.com.
Background: This is an independent living (62 apts.), assisted living (47 apts.), and memory care (26 apts.) complex . The developer describes them as “luxury units’ located adjacent to the Kensington train station. See the developer’s website for more information.
Independent: starting at $4,650/month for a one-bedroom
Assisted: starting at $4,550/month for a shared apt. and $6,100/month for a studio
Memory Care: starting at $8,295/month for a shared apt. and $9,895/month for a studio
There is one-time non-refundable community fee of $7,500
Warner Circle Park
Background: Warner Circle Special Park is a 4.5-acre property located at 10231Carroll Place in the heart of the Kensington Historic District. Washington Landmark Construction [WLC] has proposed developing the mansion at Warner Circle into 12 condominiums. WLC is experienced in historic preservation for commercial purposes; see, for example, the Washington Seminary Project. The project will be ADA compliant with the assumption that residents will age in place. The Town of Kensington Council has approved a resolution of support.
- The County Council has given approval to this project.
- See WLC presentation at a public meeting held at Kensington Town Hall in September 2019 and a summary of that meeting in the Fall 2019 Parkwood Residents Newsletter, starting on page 21 at the top of the first column.
Crossroads of Kensington
Crossroads of Kensington (formerly Kensington Crossing) is a proposed 11,000 sq ft retail development at 10619 Connecticut Ave. at the corner of Connecticut Ave and Plyers Mill Rd. Further details of this proposal can be found at the developer’s website here.
Also, see especially the information on the Town of Kensington Development Review Board, including the visuals in the Power Point presentation and the daytime and nighttime videos.
- May 19, 2022: The Planning Board (PB) approved the project with conditions as specified in the staff report. Of particular note, in response to concerns expressed by citizens who testified and by board members, the PB has asked the State Highway Administration to exam the proposed access to Metropolitan Avenue and to confirm that it is safe and sufficient. The recording of the PB meeting on the project is found here, beginning at 1:21:50 p.m. The staff report is here.
- April 21, 2022: The Planning Board has rescheduled its decision on this project to April 21, 2022.
- February 2, 2022 – Planning Board tentatively scheduled a hearing on Feb 3, 2022 to obtain public comment on the developer’s application.
- On April 12 the Kensington Town Council voted to support the project in a letter to the Planning Board, subject to submission of a formal plan to the Board. The Council identified several issues, including the importance of pedestrian and bicycle safety, and environmental factors, e.g, the value of LEED Silver certification. At the meeting several citizens questioned the adequacy of parking and the potential for a traffic backup onto Connecticut Avenue if the proposed single drive thru banking lane is approved.
Summit Avenue Extension
The County Council approved funding for the project in the 2023 CIP budget. Design was scheduled for FY27 and completion of the project by FY31. The CE’s proposed FY2024 CIP budget included a one-year delay for this project, which presumably means design in FY28 and completion in FY32. Updated January 25, 2023.
Background: The SUMMIT AVENUE EXTENDED project as proposed by the County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is intended to alleviate severe traffic congestion along Connecticut Avenue, especially at the intersection of Connecticut and Knowles.
The Town of Kensington (ToK) Council has expressed strong support for the project. Its letter summarizes how the project would reduce congestion and states that it would “…benefit all forms and modes of transportation, to include pedestrian, wheeled, private vehicle, and public transit.”
The Parkwood Residents Association has tried to keep residents informed but has not taken a formal position on the project. Some residents have expressed support for the project; some have expressed concern about a possible increase in traffic on Cedar Lane.
Connecticut Avenue Corridor Safety
The Maryland State Highway Administration recently published the MD185 Corridor Needs Analysis which reviews safety along Connecticut Avenue from the University split to the DC line at Chevy Chase Circle.
Noyes Children’s Library
May 19, 2022: Councilmember Friedson reported that the Noyes Library for Young Children Rehabilitation and Renovation project is “…finally fully funded, and thanks to our state partners and a significant county commitment, construction is scheduled to begin this fiscal year.” The Noyes Children’s Library Foundation says that more details will be forthcoming soon.