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Wheaton Redevelopment Update: Developer Choice May Come Soon

The Montgomery County executive has the power to choose the developer.

Update, March 7, 2:30 p.m.

The Wheaton redevelopment discussion tentatively scheduled for March 12 will be a closed session. The Montgomery County Council and the executive administration will be discussing real estate issues "that could impact negotiations if the session were public," according to Rob Klein of the Department of General Services.

The county has yet to announce a developer for the Park and Planning headquarters building coming to Wheaton's downtown area.

The redevelopment plan approved by the council in 2012 envisions a town square and an office building on Lot 13 with ground-floor retail. The Montgomery Planning Department would share the space with county agencies.

Update, March 1, 3:45 p.m.

The planned discussion about Wheaton redevelopment between the Montgomery County Council and the executive administration has been postponed yet again.

"I think it's going to be March 12, in the morning," said Rob Klein of the Department of General Services.

Klein said that the following people would likely be involved in the discussion:

  • Greg Ossont, deputy director of the Department of General Services
  • Mike Riley, deputy director of Montgomery Parks
  • Marlene Michaelson and Jacob Sesker, senior legislative analysts at the Montgomery County Council

Update, Feb. 4, 11 a.m.

The planned discussion about Wheaton redevelopment between the Montgomery County Council and the executive administration has been postponed until Feb. 26.

Rob Klein of the Department of General Services said that the county is still coordinating with the park and planning commission and talking with individual councilmembers in preparation for the meeting.

Original post, Jan. 23, 11:44 a.m.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett's administration may announce his choice of a developer for Wheaton on Jan. 29 before the Montgomery County Council.

"We are hopeful that at that point in time we would be able to make an announcement about a new developer for the Wheaton redevelopment project," said Steve Silverman, director of the Department of Economic Development.

Silverman revealed that Leggett has a short list of developers with recognizable names who have worked in Montgomery County.

Leggett's choice does not require approval from the county council, but the council does have budget control.

Silverman told members of the Wheaton Redevelopment Advisory Committee at their January meeting that the loss of developer B.F. Saul last year "shouldn't be considered a major setback" for Wheaton redevelopment.

In 2012, the council rejected the redevelopment plan for B.F. Saul to build a platform over the bus bay area in Wheaton, in the triangle formed by Reedie Drive, Georgia Avenue and Veirs Mill Road. The council then added money into the FY2013 budget for a feasibility study of the bus bay area. However, the executive branch has decided not to pursue that study.

The redevelopment plan approved by the council envisions a town square and an office building on Lot 13 with ground-floor retail. The Montgomery Planning Department would share the space with county agencies.

Commentous January 23, 2013 at 07:00 PM
"Wheaton Redevelopment" is an oxymoron. To summarize: WRAC and WUDAC worked publicly for a long time to address residents' interests and desires in redeveloping Wheaton. They came up with a large-scale plan with the involvement and participation of a private developer who had a financial incentive to try to ensure success. In an unexpected move, the County Council then disregarded the WRAC/WUDAC ideas and concerns, offered the community no input, and chose their own plan, which did not include developing the bus bay platform (or many other ideas presented by WRAC/WUDAC). Instead, with respect to the bus bays, money was set aside to study the feasibility of such a plan. Now the money has been removed. This is Wheaton Redevelopment.
AntonFisher January 23, 2013 at 10:37 PM
The County Council has no interest in Wheaton redevelopment. The County Council championed by Navarro benefit from the status quo of Wheaton. They want it to remain depressed town where they can get free votes for providing social services and small grants and subsidies to failing businesses.
Andy January 24, 2013 at 12:45 AM
Anton is spot on. And guess who else Navarro and the County Council sound like in your description? Your Governor, MOM, and President Barack, same principles all the way up the chain when you live in Moco, MD, and Obama's US. Slowly but surely trashing this county, state, and country; too bad all these crazy liberal are too stupid to see it happening.
Lo January 24, 2013 at 04:11 PM
To call this project "redevelopment" is a joke. It's just the county creating a new government building in Wheaton - hardly redevelopment.
Randall Spadoni January 31, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Did this happen?
AntonFisher January 31, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Did Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett's administration announce his choice of a developer for Wheaton on Jan. 29 before the Montgomery County Council as this article stated in the beginning?!
Andy February 01, 2013 at 06:13 PM
Wheaton Patch needs a new Editor!
Esther French (Editor) February 04, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Thanks for your patience! I found out that the meeting has been postponed until Feb. 26.
Randall Spadoni February 06, 2013 at 04:54 AM
Thanks, Esther!
Randall Spadoni February 06, 2013 at 05:02 AM
Let's hope that the County Executive and County Council can actually get on the same page this time. I'd love to see input and buy-in from Jacob Sesker. The fact that this announcement was scheduled and then postponed may imply that the County Executive made an arrangement with a developer without first consulting closely with council staffers, which would not be a good sign.
Randall Spadoni March 01, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Hi again, Esther (and hopefully Rob Klein, as well). Could we get an update on the "planned discussion about Wheaton redevelopment between the Montgomery County Council and the executive administration"?
Esther French (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Thanks for the reminder! I got in touch with Rob Klein, and I've updated the story accordingly. It looks like things will be happening March 12.
AntonFisher March 02, 2013 at 12:28 AM
Thanks Esther!!
Esther French (Editor) March 07, 2013 at 07:31 PM
I've posted another update to this story.
Will N. March 07, 2013 at 08:40 PM
Something sounds really fishy about this. The original date was January 29th and its been postponed repeatedly until just a few days before the County Executive releases his proposed budget for the next fiscal year. Will the Wheaton community be shut out completely, just like they were last year when the Council decided to dump the metro project?
Commentous March 08, 2013 at 11:45 AM
Agreed. At a minimum, we could be told--in more specific terms--the types of "real estate issues" they don't want to discuss publicly because negotiations would be affected. Obviously, we hope that they don't mean that negotiations would be affected because the plan is to short-change the project and end up with a nondescript cement building.
AntonFisher March 08, 2013 at 01:08 PM
This approach is worrisome. Government openness is essential is such projects. What type of information they are discussing that will affect the developers bids? Anything other than price negotiations should be open to the public at this point.
Randall Spadoni March 08, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Well, that was an anticlimax. Glass half full: Perhaps it is good for the executive and council to work things out privately before a deal is announced. We don't want more time and effort wasted on another BF Saul. But why did it take an additional two months before the executive could even discuss the deal with the council? From Councilmember Valerie Ervin when the BF Saul deal was announced in July 2010: "We all knew that a piecemeal approach was not the answer to revitalize the Wheaton Central Business District." And then from council legislative analyst Jacob Sesker when the deal collapsed two years later: "There are far fewer unknowns when it comes to the public sector building a building that the public sector will occupy than there are with a complex public-private partnership..." And so the county chose piecemeal even though they knew it wasn't the answer. Why? A summary from Councilmember Nancy Navarro: "I was hoping for a little bit more of a middle ground or a collaboration that would be forthcoming from DGS and the Executive. That didn’t really happen.” The council, DGS, and the Executive all want to see Wheaton revitalized and now the economy is picking up. Our request: Please get in the same boat and all pull together for the benefit of Wheaton and the county. I hope we see something ambitious, visionary, AND realistic this time around.

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