Showing posts with label 5 Choke Cherry Road. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 5 Choke Cherry Road. Show all posts

Friday, September 2, 2016

Demolition clearing way for JBG's Upper Rock retail project (Photos)

Demolition of an existing office building at 5 Choke Cherry Road in Rockville is underway. The JBG Companies project there will revamp an office park just off I-270 and Shady Grove Road, and provide convenient retail for the new housing already built in the Gables Upper Rock community.

Tenants on-board already include a 14,600 SF CVS Pharmacy opening next summer, and a 16,000 SF MOM's Organic Market expected to deliver by next fall. MOM's CEO and Founder, Scott Nash, is a Montgomery County resident.

"Our customers have told us over the years how much they’d love a MOM’s between our Rockville and Frederick locations,” Nash said in a statement yesterday. “We’re thrilled to provide what they’ve been asking for with the opening next fall of our Northern Rockville/Gaithersburg store.”

An additional 4100 SF building will be offered for lease to a restaurant and smaller-scale retail tenants. JBG's portion of Upper Rock is 4.5 acres out of the total 20 being redeveloped. New Urbanist architect Andres Duany, the master planner for the Upper Rock redevelopment, is locally best known for his work on the Kentlands.

Renderings courtesy The JBG Companies

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rockville business flees building slated for demolition, finds new home in city (Photo)

InfoStructures, a Rockville technology consulting firm that has government and private sector clients, had a problem. The city recently gave the JBG Companies the green light to demolish the building InfoStructures is headquartered in, the historic 5 Choke Cherry Road.

Fortunately the city has been able to hold on to those jobs, as InfoStructures just leased 4850 SF at 1390 Piccard Drive. That building is owned by Washington Property Company. The deal was facilitated by real estate firm Transwestern.

Transwestern also helped WPC land another tenant at that address, ABSG Consulting. They leased 2200 SF recently, as well.

Photo courtesy Washington Property Company

Friday, February 20, 2015


The demolition reprieve the Sullivan and Associates-designed building at 5 Choke Cherry Road received from Rockville's Historic District Commission was short-lived. Last night, the commissioners voted unanimously that the structure did not merit historic designation by the city. Jack Sullivan has been recognized as one of the most significant architects in the history of Rockville.

The motion was made by Commissioner Anita Neal Powell, and seconded by Commissioner Craig Moloney.

Commissioner Jessica Reynolds urged the city to begin considering which of Sullivan's buildings in Rockville should receive such designation, to be preserved from demolition in the future. Moloney said he concurred.

The vote removes one of the last hurdles for developer JBG's planned Upper Rock retail project to proceed.

Friday, January 9, 2015


The Rockville Historic District Commission is scheduled to receive an update on the potentially-historic 5 Choke Cherry Road office building next week, which faces demolition in the JBG Companies' current plan for its Upper Rock property along Shady Grove Road. Last month, the commission voted to postpone its decision until it could receive more information about the historic value of the structure, the number and state of existing properties in Rockville by its architect, John "Jack" Sullivan," and the potential reuses for the building with input from JBG.

Also facing demolition, and requiring an approval to do so from the commission at the same January 15th meeting, is a single-family home at 540 Brent Road, in the Roxboro subdivision.

The meeting will begin at 7:30 PM in the Mayor and Council Chambers at City Hall, and be televised on Channel 11.

Friday, December 19, 2014


The Rockville Historic District Commission wants more information before rendering its decision on whether or not the office building at 5 Choke Cherry Road merits historic designation. At the outset of last night's meeting, Commission Chair Robert Achtmeyer asked if this matter was essentially a rubber stamp action for the body (the property is part of The JBG Companies' Upper Rock development, which received initial approval from the Mayor and Council, and a housing component has already been constructed). It quickly became apparent that that would not be the case.

Ironically, the commercial structure in question had previously been slated for a retrofitting by JBG, to transform it into a mixed-use, live-work housing development. That would have preserved the arguably-historic exterior. More recently, JBG determined that there was no market for additional housing in that immediate area, and has now asked for permission to demolish 5 Choke Cherry Road to make way for a retail development.

The building was designed by highly-regarded local architect John "Jack" Sullivan, who was responsible for many notable buildings in Rockville, including the County Council building. Now many of them are threatened with demolition, which concerned Commissioners Craig Maloney and Jessica Reynolds. Reynolds said she was still lamenting the demolition of the Suburban Trust Building (a.k.a. The Pink Bank), and the commission's decision last month to allow demolition of the Gillette Building.

Nancy Pickard, speaking on behalf of Peerless Rockville, testified that the building deserves consideration for historic designation on several of the criteria required to meet current preservation standards. 

While the staff report found 5 Choke Cherry Road did not meet any of the criteria for historic designation, Reynolds and Maloney disagreed. Maloney noted that the Brutalist architecture element of the 1973 structure predated the height of that style's popularity, making it an early example ahead of its time. There was also a sense during the discussion that the importance and prominence of Sullivan's work in Rockville met the criteria for having been designed by a master architect.

Ultimately, the commission voted to postpone the question. Reynolds asked city staff to provide more information on Sullivan's buildings, how many remain in unaltered form and which ones have been demolished already. She said that information would help the commission begin to reckon with which Sullivan buildings it should prioritize preservation of. The commission also felt that it would help to discuss the matter with JBG at a future meeting, to determine if there is any viable way for the developer to utilize the existing building, such as removing floors to allow higher ceilings for contemporary retail.

Given that the ground floor currently houses individual retail such as a credit union, it seems that retrofitting this building for retail would be possible. It also has prime placement along Shady Grove Road, giving it - and future tenants - high visibility.

The two single-family homes, whose owners were seeking a finding to allow demolition last night, were both found to not meet historic designation criteria by the commission.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


JBG's attorney, Bob Harris, and Senior Development Analyst Devon Lauer returned to City Hall Monday night, to brief the Rockville Mayor and Council on changes the developer seeks for its 5 Choke Cherry Road project in the Upper Rock District.

There are no real points of contention with the project at this point, although Harris again indicated that JBG will return with greater detail at future meetings. Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr asked about the bicycle plan and stormwater management for the site. Neither Harris nor Lauer were familiar enough with the bike issues at the site to comment, but said they would have that information at the next meeting. City staff said that the project, while having been approved long ago, would be built under current Rockville stormwater requirements.

Councilmember Tom Moore asked if the green space once designated as an office building could be developed as residential in the future, "[i]f the residential market picked up at some point?" Harris said he did not foresee any changes to the current proposal in the future. In a previous presentation before the Rockville Planning Commission, Harris said residential development was not sustainable, given the proximity of Crown Farm and other projects under construction.

Friday, May 16, 2014


More evidence of Montgomery County's abysmal office market was on display at this week's Rockville Planning Commission meeting. Developer JBG is requesting an amendment to its Pre-Development Plan for 5 Choke Cherry Road, in the Upper Rock District off Shady Grove Road.

When the plan was approved on May 23, 2005, it included 293 residential units, retail and restaurant space, a community park, and 73,700 square feet of office space, with a surface parking lot.

Devon Lauer, Senior Development Analyst for JBG, said the company wants to replace the 73,700 SF office space component with 35,000 SF of retail and restaurant space. This would be arranged in four, single-story structures, with surface parking serving all four. Potential tenants under discussion include CVS and MOM's Organic Market.

The applicant's attorney, Bob Harris of Lerch, Early & Brewer, said the change is needed due to the poor office market. Residential would not work either, Harris said, due to “the evolution of the residential marketplace in this area,”  noting that such units would have to compete with Crown Farm, the Reed Brothers project, and others on the east side of MD 355, around the Shady Grove Metro. That "softness in the office market” is being felt by existing office building owners near the Upper Rock District. JBG believes that adding retail and restaurant amenities will help it attract new tenants to its existing office space in Upper Rock, as well as to nearby office buildings. Harris recalled another office owner saying he’s struggling to keep his tenants, and could use the retail nearby to help retain them.

JBG will return at future sessions with more detailed information for the commissioners regarding the request. Once again, the weak office market is casting doubt on whether smart growth can be applied in Montgomery County, if there are not adequate, high-wage jobs nearby these new developments.