Wheaton Redevelopment: Different Site Considered for Park and Planning Headquarters

In addition, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett is recommending against moving county agencies from Rockville to share space with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in Wheaton, citing high costs.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission is still on track to move its headquarters from Silver Spring to downtown Wheaton, but perhaps not to Parking Lot 13 as previously proposed.

Instead, Park and Planning is looking across the street, to take over the site currently occupied by the Mid-County Regional Services Center at 2424 Reedie Dr. in Wheaton, according to a project description form submitted in March. (See attached PDF)

If this goes forward, Montgomery County likely would receive the Park and Planning headquarters site at 8787 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring, in a land swap, said Greg Ossont, deputy director of the Department of General Services.

Leggett: $67 Million More Would Be Needed to Move County Agencies to Wheaton

Another major proposed change in the county's vision for Wheaton redevelopment has come to light recently.

The County Council envisioned a "multi-user government building" in Wheaton, and discussions this past year about the new headquarters building have included plans to move county agencies from leased space in Rockville to Wheaton. 

But Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett wrote in a memo to the County Council last week that making space for county agencies to share an office building with Park and Planning would be too expensive. (See attached PDF for the full memo text.)

Constructing additional floors on the proposed Park and Planning headquarters to house the county's Department of Permitting Services and the Department of Environmental Protection would cost an estimated $67 million more than the $65 million already planned for the project in the county budget, according to the memo. 

"As you are aware, additional debt capacity in the CIP is severely limited in the FY15-20 period," Leggett wrote, "and the addition of $67 million in costs for the Wheaton Redevelopment project will necessitate delaying or eliminating existing projects such as library renovations, recreation centers, and other high priority projects."

Park and Planning estimates that its headquarters will cost approximately $59 million, according to the project description form it submitted in March. (See attached PDF.) 

The project description form says that the building will include 132,000 square feet of office space for the M-NCPPC headquarters and 10,000 square feet for the regional service center occupants. The building may also include spaces for private commercial use.

Budget Decisions and Cost Estimates in 2012

Last year, the County Council passed over Leggett's plan for a partnership with developer B.F. Saul to build a platform over the bus bay site in the triangle formed by Georgia Avenue, Veirs Mill Road and Reedie Drive in Wheaton.

Instead, the County Council decided on a plan for a government office building and town square on Parking Lot 13.

At the time, DGS estimated that the costs for an office building shared by county agencies and Park and Planning on Parking Lot 13 would be approximately twice the amount the County Council allotted in the budget, Ossont said.

Total estimates by DGS in 2012 for a M-NCPPC and county building on lot 13, a town square and underground parking came out to $166 million. (See page ©21 in this document.)

The project description form for Wheaton redevelopment adopted by the County Council in May 2012 recognized that the budget provided only "partial funding for construction of the government office complex or building" and that the cost estimate would be revised after the design phase.

The County Council is anticipated to discuss Wheaton redevelopment later this month.

Randall Spadoni April 10, 2013 at 03:47 AM
Thank you for your comment and information, Patrick. It often seems like Wheaton residents receive relatively little information about what is going on behind the scenes with regard to the redevelopment of our community so I appreciate your engagement. In April 2012 after the county surprised Wheaton by completely changing the direction of redevelopment, we were lead to expect a MOU on the new county building by the end of the summer and then the start of a design process. Instead, we did not hear anything until the end of March 2013 and then it was news that the plan would be changed because the Executive was no longer willing to commit the funding. This is after the county dropped the parking bay study, one of the last vestiges of the 2010 BF Saul deal that had received so much community energy and input. In January of this year the Executive hinted at an imminent announcement of a new developer but this announcement was delayed several times until the meeting on March 12th, which was then declared to be a closed session. Now your news that "at some point in the future" the county may be soliciting proposals from developers. Can the county tell us why a new developer was not announced? Why is the county only soliciting proposals at an unnamed date in the future? Our sector plan was approved in January 2012. We want to be a constructive part of the redevelopment process but we would appreciate information and opportunities to provide input.
Randall Spadoni April 10, 2013 at 04:58 AM
I appreciate these thoughts from the County Executive. I want to mention a comment from Roger Berliner just over a year after the approval of the White Flint sector plan: "The County has also been busy preparing for the implementation of the White Flint Sector Plan. The Executive Branch held a series of meetings with the White Flint community to determine what the major public amenities of the plan should look and feel like. The civic green, the new recreation center, the library, the recreational loop and a new regional services center were all discussed in detail. The results of this public process were recently released and can be found here if you're interested." http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/bertmpl.asp?url=/content/council/mem/berliner_r/white_flint_new.asp Are there plans for a similar engagement with the Wheaton community? Our sector plan includes many of the same intentions for public investments as White Flint and Wheaton is an area with a larger population (48,000 in 2010) and similar number of existing housing units within the sector plan (2,500). After the disappointment of BF Saul, we may need these kinds of community/county/developer events to get us reengaged, energized, and reconnected with the sector plan and Wheaton's redevelopment.
Wheaton-ite April 12, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Hi Patrick, From the meeting this morning about Wheaton redevelopment, it sounds like the Council is undecided about whether or not the space will be used for private or public development. In fact, nothing is actually decided until it passes through a vote. Is this correct? This has been such a confusing and frustrating process to witness. As a citizen of Wheaton, I'm so tired of being jerked around. The Triangle is a property ripe for development. I hope this happens sooner rather than later! I'd love to see this space become a welcoming area for congregation, shopping, etc. anytime of the day (including evenings and weekends).
Randall Spadoni April 16, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Anton, I wrote to the Housing Opportunities Commission and they wrote back with a nice note. "Developer interviews were held earlier this year and the selection process is still underway. We anticipate reaching a conclusion before the summer." Summer starts June 21st so I assume we'll hear something before then.
AntonFisher April 16, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Randall - Thanks for taking the time and contacting HOC. That is great to hear. I hope when they reveal the developer, a plan is revealed as well. I hope we hear, as promised, before summer begins.


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