Village Concept Proposed for White Flint Development
Developers say a narrow vehicular street, rather than a pedestrian walkway, will make a planned White Flint development be more welcoming to pedestrians—and similar to Bethesda Row.
A development proposal for the White Flint area recently received a makeover when developers decided to give it a more pedestrian-friendly orientation.
Intended for the area just south of the White Flint Metro station, the North Bethesda Gateway development "might get a vehicular road instead of a pedestrian walkway. The project’s architect said that could actually make the area more inviting to pedestrians," The Gazette reported.
In place of the pedestrian walkway that had been planned to go through the property (at 5516 Nicholson Lane—one block east of Rockville Pike), architects now suggest a narrow vehicular road lined with sidewalks. George Dove, managing principal of WDG Architecture, told The Gazette that "having cars on the road will increase activity in the area and make pedestrians feel more comfortable walking through. Planners hope the road will eventually extend through adjacent properties to link the Rockville Pike with a proposed MARC station."
Some of the office space originally planned for the property may be jettisoned "in favor of low-rise apartment buildings," The Gazette added.
Dick Knapp, senior vice president at Foulger-Pratt, told The Gazette that the road would be similar to Bethesda Row, with slow traffic. Six-story buildings, instead of the two high-rise apartment buildings and office building originally planned for the site, would contribute to a "village concept," he said, the newspaper added.
Walkable developments have become more common in recent years, as developers and architects consider the importance of a neighborhood's walkability to its residents.
For a development in the Chevy Chase Lake neighborhood (adjacent to a planned station for the proposed Purple Line), county planning staff have recommended that the sector retain its human scale, and that there be a focus on traditional architecture and pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use development, Montgomery County Senior Planner Elza Hisel-McCoy said last summer, Patch reported.
While the county planning staff's recommendations for Chevy Chase Lake are not quite as low-scale as many locals would prefer—one building currently is slated to be allowed to be built up to 150 feet, while the Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee has asked that the building's height be capped at 90 feet—the recommendations are still a far cry from the developer's original 19-story high-rise plan.
Do you think that development in Montgomery County is moving in a pedestrian-friendly orientation? If so, is that a good thing? Is it possible to create a neighborhood feel in a new development? Tell us in the comments.