Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Rockville construction update: AutoZone (Photos)
I couldn't be more pleased as the market continues to invest in the successful "old" Rockville Pike economic model, rather than the urbanization developers sought in a nearly-decade-long battle over the Rockville Pike Plan. Thanks to some of the sharp members of the Rockville Planning Commission, developers didn't get everything they wanted, but the option to urbanize at a more modest scale is still available to them. Yet B.F. Saul is the only development firm that is even daring to go urban on the Pike so far. Perhaps reality is setting in, that having 9 competing urban town centers along the Pike just isn't viable or sustainable, as I predicted years ago.
Perhaps it's because investors recognize that Rockville Pike - not the new urban "town centers" around the state - is the commercial revenue engine of the entire state of Maryland. Those "massive seas of surface parking" remain jammed full of cars seven days a week at aging strip centers like Congressional Plaza, Ritchie Center, Edmonston Crossing and Federal Plaza, to name just a very few. Asian food hall Pike Kitchen is drawing crowds, no residential-on-top necessary. The gigantic former Rockville Ford dealership site, a prime "smart growth" transit-oriented development property, ended up firmly in the 1970s with Roy Rogers and auto repair shops.
It's intriguing that successful Pike & Rose, unlike Federal Realty's struggling Rockville Town Square, presents an old-Pike face to drivers passing by. What do they see? Old-Pike retailers like big box REI with surface parking, and even an auto dealership. Having arguably the best line-up of restaurants on one property in the county hasn't hurt Pike & Rose, and the Pike has always been a dining destination.
Now, here comes AutoZone. It's not Barcelona, but Barcelona wishes they had "old" Rockville Pike.