Wheaton Redevelopment Work Session

The Montgomery County Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee and its Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee at 2 p.m. on May 8, will meet jointly to discuss proposed amendments to County Executive Isiah Leggett’s recommendation for redevelopment of downtown Wheaton. The worksession will include discussion about the proposal to build a new headquarters for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) in Wheaton. Park and Planning is currently located in downtown Silver Spring.

The PHED Committee, which is chaired by Nancy Floreen and includes Councilmembers Marc Elrich and George Leventhal, and the GO Committee, which is chaired by Council President Nancy Navarro and includes Councilmembers Valerie Ervin and Hans Riemer, is expected to use information from the worksession to make a recommendation for the full Council to consider at a planned worksession on Monday, May 13.

The joint committee meeting will be in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed through the County Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov .

In the Fiscal Years 2013-18 Capital Improvements Program (CIP), the Council approved two separate but related projects for a Wheaton Redevelopment Program and for a new M-NCPPC headquarters in Wheaton.

The Wheaton Redevelopment Program is a $66.2 million project to construct a new headquarters for M-NCPPC, a town square and plan for a multi-agency facility to possibly include relocated County offices for its Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Permitting Services.

There are two primary reasons the committees will be discussing potential changes to both projects are that the project schedule has slipped and the County Executive more recently did not recommend moving the two departments to Wheaton as part of a multi-agency facility.

This past winter, the County’s Department of General Services asked M-NCPPC if it would consider the current site of a County Regional Services Center in downtown Wheaton as an alternative to the originally planned site on a property known as Parking Lot 13. This would free up Parking Lot 13 for private development. M-NCPPC explored the possibility of relocating to the Regional Services Center site and indicated that it believes acquisition of additional property would be necessary to make that site work.

In March, after hearing from both M-NCPPC and the Executive, the Council elected to support M-NCPPC exploring the acquisition of additional property interests as necessary.

The Executive then indicated he was interested in pursuing a public/private redevelopment approach under which the office building would remain in the Wheaton Redevelopment Program. The precise location of the building in Wheaton would remain open. Under this scenario the determination as to whether to relocate the two departments in Wheaton would be made at a later time. The committees requested that the Executive present a more detailed recommendation.

On April 30, M-NCPPC transmitted a letter stating that it would prefer to control the design and construction of the office building, that M-NCPPC would prefer to own the office building and that any process to select a private developer should be open and transparent. The letter also said that occupancy by July 2017 should be assured.

On May 7, County Executive Leggett transmitted a letter that provides for a new headquarters for M-NCPPC, the Regional Services Center and the Urban District, while also presenting an option for a multi-agency building.

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