County Drops Bus Bay Feasibility Study for Wheaton Redevelopment

The Montgomery County Council had allocated money for the study in the FY2013 budget.

Montgomery County government is not going to proceed with a feasibility study for redeveloping the bus bay area in Wheaton, in the triangle between Reedie Drive, Georgia Avenue and Veirs Mill Road.

That's what Steve Silverman, director of the Department of Economic Development, told members of the Wheaton Redevelopment Advisory Committee at their January meeting.

"We've made a determination at this point to move on," Silverman said.

Last year, the Montgomery County Council approved $650,000 for various studies as part of the Wheaton redevelopment package, including the bus bay feasibility study.

The study's inclusion in the budget came after the council rejected a proposal for private developer B.F. Saul to build a platform over the bus bay--a proposal that County Executive Isiah Leggett had supported. The council instead chose a plan that focused on a new headquarters for the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) on Lot 13.

B.F. Saul withdrew from the plans, but the bus bay feasibility study left the door open for future redevelopment on the triangle piece of land owned by the Washington Metropolitan Transit Area Authority.

Jacob Sesker, the senior legislative analyst who was instrumental in shaping the new plan for Wheaton, told the council in April why he believed redevelopment should start with the Park and Planning office building on Lot 13:

“The bus bays are a significant site, but they are the most challenging and expensive redevelopment site in downtown Wheaton,” Sesker said. “The redevelopment of Parking Lot 13 and the town center, with an office building headquarters for Park and Planning, along with what is going on with the Safeway project, the Lowes building...will change the market downtown, and it may make getting a platform cheaper for us at some point in the future. It may not.”


More reading on this topic:

County Council Focuses Redevelopment on Park & Planning Headquarters

Commentous January 23, 2013 at 06:54 PM
Current redevelopment projects, according to the Council, "may make getting a platform cheaper for us at some point in the future. It may not." The Council had no confidence in its own plan and simply disregarded (discarded?) Wheaton. Perhaps the Executive believes there's no point putting money toward a study when the Council would block any actual development. The County's goal appears to be to avoid developing Wheaton too much, which could cause business and home rents (including group home rents) to increase. Some Patch stories relate how hard it is to find a MoCo home for less than $500k. You can get 2 in Wheaton at that price. At the same time, the County seeks to avoid Wheaton becoming too decimated economically, which would look bad as well. So, for example, the County manipulates school figures by keeping in their home schools Wheaton-area students who do NOT receive free or reduced meals (FARMs). Specifically, the middle school magnet-school selection process considers how FARMs percentages would be affected if non-FARMs students left their home schools. The result is the restriction of opportunities for non-FARMs students slated to attend schools with already-high FARMs figures, like Newport Mill, as compared to students from wealthy areas. Why would anyone waste their time being on the WRAC or WUDAC when these committees obviously have no say? Do they just exist to allow some steam to come out of the potentially-boiling kettle of Wheaton homeowners?
Avocado January 23, 2013 at 07:45 PM
This is the first time I've heard of this free lunch percentage issue. It is certainly an issue worth investigation!! Then anyone who decides who can go to the special schools & did this unfairly should be fired. Kids shouldn't be penalized because of their parents income levels!
AntonFisher January 23, 2013 at 10:50 PM
The County Council has no interest in Wheaton redevelopment. The County Council championed by Navarro benefit from the status quo of Wheaton. They want it to remain a depressed town where they can get free votes for providing social services and small grants and subsidies to failing businesses. Similar to what has been mentioned above, LEDC will definitely get a share of these funds and Bethesda elevator project will get the remaining. We will wait and see when the council will pay attention to Wheaton and the surrounding area.
steve January 24, 2013 at 09:52 PM
Bottom line is this Metro is not giving up the triangle for any development. They don't care if it is the best interest of wheaton, the county or the state. Wheaton redevelopment is determined to do what is best for us in wheaton they have stated they know what is best. They want to take out lot 13 as proof of that. The redevelopment people have yet to see that in order for an area to survive it has to be in constant motion. Silver spring is a 9-5 area discovery channel goes home business stops. Rockville finally figured out they need a hotel that might help.. Wheaton does not have the potiential of those areas. instead of wasting money on lot 13 put in the purple line connect all the areas md dc va and growth will occur
Commentous January 25, 2013 at 02:05 AM
You're right that Wheaton needs a 24-hour presence around Lot 13 for the area to be the centerpiece of redevelopment, but the County already decided against it, instead putting up an agency in which workers will leave as soon as the workday ends. The plan endorsed by WRAC/WUDAC would have placed residents there, which could have provided a significant foot presence in the day AND at night. The Purple Line, however beneficial for other areas of the County, does nearly nothing beneficial for Wheaton residents and insures that other areas will continue to benefit from large-scale funding.


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