Rockville Pike Is Paving Its Way into Its Own Future
There’s no getting around the fact that the Rockville Pike has seen better days. “The pike is past its best days,” says Doug Olson, executive vice president at Monument Realty. "But it’s remaking itself.” We'll learn how on Feb. 17 at our Montgomery County State of the Market event at 12435 Park Potomac Ave, part of the United Bank Neighborhood Series.
Asked what’s caused the need for a facelift: poor traffic management, outdated facilities or the plethora of fast-food restaurants? Doug, who will be on our Rockville Pike panel next week, replies, "Yes, yes and yes.”
But, through comprehensive planning and zoning, “we’re in the process of making Rockville Pike much more dynamic, much less focused on strip center retail and bringing life to the Pike through the multifamily projects—apartments and condos,” Doug, snapped at a previous Bisnow event, says.
Monument does not own any property fronting on the Pike, but Olson says it is benefiting from the new construction and the White Flint Metro station in particular, which create off-Pike opportunities.
“I’m a spillover guy," he told Bisnow, "and I’m benefiting from the revitalization of Rockville Pike, which as of several years ago, kind of passed its highest and best use.”
Monument recently renovated Executive Plaza, a 326k SF, two-building complex at 6120 and 6130 Executive Blvd in Rockville (above), with renovated lobbies and restrooms, improved security in elevators and site improvements, including an outdoor plaza, a shared conference center, private balconies and a fitness center.
At present, White Flint is “in that awkward adolescent stage,” Amy Ginsburg, executive director of the Friends of White Flint and also a panelist admits. “We’re not yet in the walkable, transit-oriented stage, but we’re moving away from the car-oriented and strip mall days.
The nonprofit’s members—property owners, residents and business execs—want the Pike to be a walkable, bikeable, sustainable, transit-friendly community, she explains. Visible progress toward that goal can be seen, she says, in two mixed-use developments in North Bethesda and Pike & Rose.
Amy says the community is very supportive of the improvements because they were involved from day one in its planning, she adds.
To ease traffic and parking problems, the Montgomery County Economic Development Corp plans for a new garage at the Bethesda North Conference Center. It would replace many of the surface parking lot spaces behind the center that will disappear during construction of the Western Workaround, a $55.3M project to construct one new road, relocate another, add a bikeway and realign an intersection.
FWF is working with residents and developers to transform an eyesore parking lot into Wall Park, an eight-acre green space. Just what amenities the park will include has yet to be determined.
Pike & Rose, North Bethesda Market and White Flint Mall get most of the attention when it comes to the redevelopment happening and planned around the White Flint Metro station. Saul Centers’ White Flint project (above) could be just as important for the area’s growth due to its central location in the newly minted Pike District.
Brian Downie, senior VP of construction at Saul Centers, views the Pike as a half-full glass.
“A lot of it is actually not old, some of it is fairly new.” He describes the Pike as an established commercial corridor and the spine that runs through the county, side by side with Metro’s Red Line. And, Brian says, there’s no indication of overbuilding or overcrowding there yet.
”What’s built is fully leased, fully occupied," he says. "That’s the strength of that market now.”
What the Pike doesn’t have now is an up-to-date street grid and pedestrian connectivity. It doesn’t have that additional layer of rapid transit or 24/7 environment, Downie says. “That’s the transition that’s taking place.”
Until it does, Rockville Pike developers, business owners and residents will have to wait to catch back up with DC, Bethesda and the inner NoVa 'burbs. You can learn more about the Pike at Bisnow’s Montgomery County State of the Market on Feb. 17. Register here.