Share

Montgomery plans science center for eastern county

|
Local,Maryland,Real Estate,Liz Farmer
Officials are seeking public input as they roll out the latest plans for a major development initiative in eastern Montgomery County designed to create a major life sciences hub.

The East County Science Center plan builds on the Food and Drug Administration's consolidation and relocation to New Hampshire Avenue in White Oak to create a 610-acre Federal Research Center.

The FDA -- and its 5,500 employees -- will occupy 130 acres of the research center. To the north, Adventist HealthCare plans to build a new Washington Adventist Hospital and medical campus on nearly 50 acres near Columbia Pike and Cherry Hill Road.

Another 300 acres could be used for new housing and retail, and planners note that some of the area's largest employers -- Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Kaiser Permanente, Holy Cross Hospital and Comcast -- could build expansion sites at the science center.

The idea for the plan is to create a place where those in the life science industry can collaborate while creating a community for those employees who want to live near where they work, according to lead planner Nancy Sturgeon.

While the county's "main cluster" for research and development is at Shady Grove, planners say a second one can be built around the FDA's new headquarters, Sturgeon said at her presentation of the master plan to the county planning board.

Chief among resident concerns are relieving traffic and creating more jobs, according to the newly formed 23-member Master Plan's Citizens Advisory Board.

The FDA began construction on its headquarters site in 2001 and is more than two-thirds complete. So far, 5,500 employees have relocated and a total of 9,000 are expected to make the move when construction is finished.

The master plan also will explore possibilities for the future of several sites, including the National Labor College nearby at New Hampshire Avenue and the Capital Beltway, the White Oak and Hillandale shopping centers, and several vacant properties on Route 29.

Planners also are considering the need for more community and recreational facilities, and pedestrian and bicycle links. The area now contains more than 700 acres of designated parkland.

A community forum and update on the plan is scheduled for Tuesday at the East County Regional Center on Briggs Chaney Road from 4:30 to 9 p.m.

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment