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White Flint Sketch Shows Scope of Development

By Aaron Kraut

Wednesday - 10/24/2012, 2:10pm  ET

Montgomery County planners tomorrow will review plans for the massive development proposed at White Flint Mall, which could be transformed into more than five million square feet of apartments, office buildings, retail space, parks and even a brand new elementary school.

The Planning Board on Thursday will decide whether to take planning staff’s recommendation to approve the sketch plan with some caps on density, green space and public use requirements and the allotment of one some of the land for a future elementary school.

The development has been in the works even before the county approved the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan, which allows for mixed-use zoning on both sides of Rockville Pike near the White Flint Metro station that will bring an estimated 14,000 housing units and 13 million square feet of development to North Bethesda.

The redevelopment of the White Flint Mall, 5.22 million square feet of a number of uses, is the centerpiece of that project. The County Council approved a White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee this week to relate issues with development to the county government.

Planning staff recommended capping building heights at 250 feet along Rockville Pike and Executive Boulevard, where planners hope the tallest buildings will go. Buildings in the interior core are set at 40 to 140 feet tall and the existing Lord and Taylor building in the mall will remain at 50 feet tall.

Space for an elementary school to meet the anticipated influx of 400 new students is included on the south end of the development.

Natalie Goldberg, a resident near the mall, submitted a letter to planning staff making clear her objection to building a “Neighborhood Plaza” that could attract people late at night so close to the White Flint Neighborhood Park, which operates from sunrise to sunset.

Following sketch plan approval, the development must submit a preliminary plan and site plan, during which time the exact ratio of residential to retail space would be laid out.

All images via the Montgomery County Planning Department