What's Missing From Montgomery County?
Home to many major corporations and government agencies, as well as a public school system ranked among the best in the country, Montgomery County has long been a very attractive option for families looking to work and live in the same area. The development followed expansion from the capital, creating a suburban sprawl.
For a family with a couple of cars, the layout of the county may be merely inconvenient, but for a young professional looking for a more affordable urban setting than the capital itself, the need for a car is a deal-breaker. The area needs to fill in and connect if it is to attract the next generation of tenants.
Millennials are flooding the DC Metro area, and they represent a huge new market for developers. Federal Realty's Chris Weilminster and StonebridgeCarras' Doug Firstenberg both acknowledged Millennials' preference for walkable urban neighborhoods with easy access to a Metro. And Montgomery County doesn't have many of those yet. Increasingly, empty nester Baby Boomers want to move out of their single-family homes and into smaller apartments in urban centers.
To meet the demands of these markets, Chris maintained that more holistic, pedestrian-friendly projects are needed. These integrate retail, residential, office, community centers, and proximity to mass transit to such an extent that the place feels self-contained. The neighborhoods will continue to fill out and eventually rival DC as an option for those looking for an urban setting.