Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Duball, LLC seeks to convert ground floor retail into residential units in Rockville Town Center

Planned retail and restaurant spaces
boarded up at the Ansel apartments in Rockville

The developer of the Ansel apartments at 33 Monroe Street in Rockville is finding weak demand for retail space in the ground floor of the newest residential building in Rockville Town Center. Duball, LLC is asking the city's Planning Commission for permission to convert up to 20,153 square feet of ground floor retail space to residential loft apartments, which would have direct access doors to the sidewalk. 

Retail spaces currently on the market
for lease at the Ansel; the developer says
demand for them is weak at this time

Retail and restaurant uses on ground floors are considered beneficial in activating the streetscape in urban areas, and in making pedestrians feel more secure about walking in an area at night. Duball is making a counter-argument in its application, suggesting that having occupants living on the ground floor will activate the streetscape more than having empty, walled-up storefronts. It cites the pandemic retail market as a major obstacle to leasing these already-approved retail and restaurant units, and promises that the loft apartments can be converted back to retail use if demand rises in the future.

A virtual meeting on the matter will be held this Thursday night, December 9, 2021 at 6:00 PM. Access the Zoom meeting online by entering Meeting ID: 929 7347 6840 and Passcode: 894571. You can also join the meeting by phone at +1 301 715 8592 US.


  1. Of course there's demand to lease the space. There's just not currently demand at the price point Duball wants to get.

    This always seemed like a really, really aggressive amount of retail space to bring online (though I thought that about phase 1, too, and that leased up pretty quick). If the retail played a role in the project's approval, e.g. it's required by the block's zoning, then tell Duball to suck it up. If Duball simply chose to build out retail but could have built out residential, by right, then allowing them to switch seems appropriate.

  2. Surprising turn of events given this is prime space near metro, next to regal row and the town square

  3. That request should of the commission should be a hard NO! Let the market demand govern the space and when it gets filled. Just because there is a sudden downturn in retail demand, an instant change in the use of a permission should not be granted.