For their first meeting of 2012, the Wheaton Redevelopment Advisory Committee (WRAC) invited representatives of Lowe Enterprises to share the company’s plans for redeveloping the building at 11141 Georgia Avenue.
Meeting in the Mid-County Services Center, WRAC also learned about changes to the budget for the Wheaton Redevelopment Program, received subcommittee and Green Wheaton updates and welcomed former WRAC chair Karen Cordry to discuss neighborhood concerns over the potential parking waiver for Westfield Wheaton.
Following a brief redevelopment update--including the announcement that concrete pouring on the new Safeway will begin in February—the WRAC committee welcomed Mark Rivers and Stacy Silber to present Lowe Enterprises’ plans for the “Computer Building” located at 11141 Georgia Avenue.
Rivers offered a brief overview of Lowe Enterprises, and existing projects in the area (Bethesda’s Air Rights and Fairmont Buildings and Chevy Chase Pavillion) followed by a walkthrough of Lowe’s plans to build a 13-story residential apartment building, using the existing 7-story, mustard-colored structure as the foundation.
Rivers doesn’t believe that construction will terribly obtrusive, as the structure of the building is good, and he expects that the general footprint of the building will not change much. The building will feature approximately 195 one-bedroom and studio units, with amenities located on the upper floors to take advantage of the site’s Southern views.
Lowe is seeking approvals by August 2012, with a 14-16 month construction process beginning late 2012 or early 2013. WRAC chair Jonathan Fink offered a letter of support from the committee, which was welcomed by Stacy Silber.
Wheaton Redevelopment Program CIP Budget Changes:
WRAC then received an update on the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget from Greg Ossont, deputy director of Montgomery County General Services. Ossont shared that the CIP is now available online and that while there are changes to the budgeting structure and timeline for the Wheaton Redevelopment Program, people should not be too concerned.
Changes include moving the Ennalls-Price road connection project to the Department of Transportation’s budget and some of the construction costs of the WMATA bus bay platform project to fiscal year 2015. Ossont reassured WRAC that “Nothing is delayed or gone,” and “budget items [were] simply moved around.”
Subcommittee and Green Wheaton:
Subcommittee updates included the continued work on creating a mission statement to bring the WRAC and WUDAC groups closer together and the possibility of WRAC giving awards to Wheaton businesses that “make Wheaton proud” through their participation in the redevelopment process.
Green Wheaton’s Ed Murtagh shared his group’s on-going efforts to support the Bag Tax Law with events like the “Bag It” movie screening at Brookside Gardens, as well as their focus over the next several months, which include community gardens in February, Green Street efforts in March and Earth Day in April.
Westfield Parking Waiver:
During the December WRAC meeting, the group agreed to offer a letter of support to Westfield’s application for a parking waiver, despite concerns from the Kensington Heights and Kensington View civic associations. Karen Cordry, former WRAC chair and current member of the Kensington Heights Civic Association, clarified some of the association’s concerns, focusing on the need for some type of clearly-defined pedestrian walkway on the site.
In closing, WRAC agreed to consider tweaking their letter of support to include a condition that would address community concerns in regards to pedestrian safety.