Developers kicking off designs for redeveloped White Flint

Local,Business,Maryland,Real Estate,Liz Farmer
Developers in Montgomery County soon will see their first piece of action in their quest to transform White Flint into an urban economic engine that many say will outshine downtown Bethesda as the new model for D.C.'s outlying communities.

Three developers building on a total of 35 acres on Rockville Pike in North Bethesda are expected to submit their sketch plans for their sites, which include residential and office space, hotels and retail, to the county planning board in late January.

It's the first step in a revitalization the county estimates will generate $7 billion in tax revenue over 30 years.

"The commercial tax base and employers and job creation and all the economic development priority that was realized in Bethesda can be surpassed in White Flint," said Hilary Goldfarb, a developer with Promark Real Estate Services LLC, which is developing 11 acres there.

With the county's ever-increasing population and limited space -- just 4 percent of the 495 developable square miles is untouched -- White Flint has been targeted as the next hot place to attract Generation Y taxpayers and rival Bethesda's bars, restaurants and outdoor amenities.

According to Nkosi Yearwood, a county planner, nearly half of White Flint's 400 acres are parking lots.

"That says there's an opportunity to do something better for Montgomery County," he said.

Greg Trimmer, a developer with JBG, said the plans transform the sprawl into a 24-hour environment to attract twenty- and thirtysomethings.

"We're right at that inflection point of ceasing to become a suburban market and becoming a more downtown urban market," he said.

JBG is building phase II of its North Bethesda Market development near Nicholson Lane on four acres where office buildings and a Chili's restaurant now stand. The plan calls for 415 apartments, 225,000 square feet of office space and 70,000 square feet of retail.

JBG's phase I is nearing completion with Whole Foods and L.A. Fitness expected to open in April, and apartment have begun leasing.

Across the pike, Promarks' 11-acre development is a joint effort with three landowners, including car dealer Jack Fitzgerald. The office buildings and dealership will be transformed into commercial office buildings, a 13-story hotel and buildings totaling 1,127 residential units.

Federal Realty's 22-acre Mid-Pike Plaza project north of Old Georgetown Road also is set to deliver sketch plans to the county. It calls for 1,725 residential units, a hotel, retail and more than 1 million square feet of office space.

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