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Council Introduces White Flint Committee

By Aaron Kraut

Tuesday - 10/16/2012, 12:05pm  ET

The Montgomery County Council will likely approve the first formal White Flint advisory committee next week after a resolution was introduced at Council today.

The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee is an important step in the evolution of North Bethesda in two ways. First, the committee would make recommendations and communicate issues about the rapid development of the area to the County Executive, County Council and County government agencies.

Second, it would be charged with forming a White Flint Urban Partnership, similar to the Bethesda Urban Partnership or a Business Improvement District, by September 2017. The Urban Partnership would be a county-funded nonprofit responsible for running special events, marketing the area, picking up trash and providing other various maintenance services.

The committee, as proposed by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), would be made up of 14 members, 11 who would be able to vote. Residents, business owners, property owners, Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce representatives and some one from the County Executive’s office, the County Council and the North Bethesda Transportation Management District would be in the group.

Advisory committees or boards issue recommendations typically in the form of a letter after being briefed on development, traffic or infrastructure issues.

Those letters carry weight with policy makers as the areas served by the committees are not municipalities and rely on County government for improvement.

Managing development should be a constant topic for the group. Over the next 25 years, the multiple new developments approved in the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan will bring more than 14,000 housing units and 13 million square feet in commercial space to both sides of Rockville Pike.

Developers are in the early stages of work on a 280,000-square-foot retail and residential area with a 320-room Westin Hotel and suspension bridge over the White Flint Metro station platform just east of Rockville Pike.

Across the street, construction on the first phase of the Pike & Rose development at Mid-Pike Plaza is underway. That project is expected to bring 3.4 million square feet of mixed-use development by 2014.

South of Nicholson Lane, North Bethesda Market and its 24-story tower (the tallest building in Montgomery County) has sprouted. There are plans for another phase of the development and an even taller tower.

Then, there are the plans to turn White Flint mall into 45 acres of similar mixed-use development.