Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Federal Realty plan would deliver new White Flint Metro entrance sooner at lower price (Photos)

The long-planned construction of a north entrance to the White Flint Metro station has been stalled since 2010. That year, Montgomery County approved the White Flint sector plan that requires the entrance be built, and WMATA conducted a study. An entrance closer to Pike & Rose, and - in relative terms - to properties north of Montrose Parkway, is considered essential to a successful redevelopment of the northern Pike District by property owners.

To try and get the ball rolling again at a time when Montgomery County councilmembers have managed to spend us into an ongoing structural deficit, developer Federal Realty hired a consultant to put together an independent study. Consultant AECOM and Federal Realty say the finished report shows the new entrance can be delivered sooner, and at a lower cost, than currently expected.

To achieve savings, the plan proposes breaking the development of the entrance into three phases. The Federal Realty proposal's price tag for Phase 1 would come in below the lowball option price of WMATA's study, which was priced in recession-era 2010 dollars, so the savings are likely even bigger than the numbers indicate. At only $11.1 million, Federal Realty's plan would deliver a functional station entrance at completion of Phase 1.

Later phases would add a station supervisor kiosk, exit fare machines, a pedestrian plaza, a bike storage facility, and employee and public restrooms, among other features and amenities. The push for the station takes on extra urgency, as the Pike District is considered the leading potential destination for Amazon's HQ 2 in Montgomery County.

While the empty former site of White Flint Mall is a major candidate, Pike & Rose is arguably the best choice for the long-term. Not only does it already have the urban "neighborhood" and entertainment, dining and retail options Amazon wants, but Federal Realty has several other large properties primed for redevelopment on the next blocks of Rockville Pike north of Pike & Rose. Amazon could end up with space to grow on the Montrose Crossing and Federal Plaza properties, which would be easily walkable from Pike & Rose - especially if a creative use or redevelopment of the underutilized parking lot north of Montrose Parkway at Towne Road is approved.
Federal Realty is now seeking to have a development study for their proposal funded in the FY-2019 Montgomery County CIP budget, and to develop a funding agreement and timetable among the County, WMATA and private stakeholders. The Federal Realty plan currently estimates the total price tag as $25.3 million.

PowerPoint images courtesy Federal Realty

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