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Streetsense getting millennial feedback on downtown Bethesda

By Aaron Kraut

Friday - 6/20/2014, 11:10am  ET

Image via StreetsenseThere are some reinforcments coming in the effort to get millennials more involved with the planning process for downtown Bethesda.

Streetsense, the brokerage, design and development company with a sprawling office at Bethesda Metro Center, will host an event on July 16 focused on drawing out those age 21-35 and their opinions on what the downtown Bethesda of tomorrow should look like.

Streetsense marketing manager Raleigh Vos said the event, “Untapped Perspective” came about after the Planning Department approached the company and developer JBG about more age-targeted outreach.

Planners putting together a new master plan for downtown Bethesda have had trouble getting the millenialls who live and work in Bethesda to provide their input during an extensive series of community events.

About 130 people showed up to a Saturday morning “Design Workshop” in March. Planners counted six people between the age of 21 and 34 at the meeting. Millenialls make up 40 percent of the roughly 10,610 residents of the 450-acre downtown Bethesda area.

“They told us we don’t necessarily need to be affiliated but if you want to put something together, we feel like you guys could really do an event that kind of speaks to that generation,” Vos said.

Planners partnered with a young professional planners group in April for a happy hour at Tommy Joe’s, but the Streetsense event will be quite a bit larger and offer beer.

The Streetsense office (3 Bethesda Metro Center, #140) will be made into a party space with bars, generous gift card giveaways from local retailers, local food vendors and cornhole boards branded by co-hosts JBG and Clark Construction.

There won’t be any formal discussion or workshop on the Bethesda Downtown Plan, but there will be a wheel with planning topics to get feedback from attendees. Facilitators will administer short surveys on iPads and Vos said Streetsense will compile a report and share it with the Planning Department.

A number of people in the real estate industry have expressed interest in the event, Vos said. The Bethesda Downtown Plan would essentially rewrite the zoning guidelines and priorities for transportation, development and public space for the next 20-25 years in a downtown Bethesda area that is projected to double in population by 2040.

The younger generation already here provides a big opportunity for property owners, retailers and others who hope to be part of that development.

“They want to know not just what millennials feel, but what they want as they grow older and live here in the future,” Vos said. “They want to know what would attract them to stick around and to make their next step of life here, what makes this place viable in the long term to you as a person.”

The event is free and set for 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Streetsense office on Wednesday, July 18. Streetsense is asking for RSVPs by July 14 to  untappedrsvp[at]streetsense[dot]org.

Image via Streetsense