Throughout the ups and downs of Washington real estate, Wheaton has maintained a stable of locally owned funky and unique restaurants and
small businesses. Consider Full Key for shrimp dumpling soup or Barry’s Magic Shop for “The Ultimate Vanishing Coin.”
But despite its Red Line Metro station, Wheaton has not attracted a major mixed-use development that would make the area more walkable and lively. It’s best bet is a plan by Metro, Montgomery County officials and developer B.F. Saul Co. to transform the bus bay above the Wheaton Metro station and a county-owned parking lot into an urban town center featuring two towering office buildings and about 200 apartments as well as a hotel, shopping and a public square.
One major question has been how much money the county would have to foot to make the deal feasible. Now we know the number: $40 million.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) proposed putting $40 million into the project from his capital budget. “Without this first step, Wheaton revitalization could be set back several years,” said Steve Silverman, director of the Maryland Department of Economic Development.
But if the project is to receive a $40 million subsidy, residents and activists in Wheaton want to see that there is some money set aside to make sure Wheaton remains Wheaton. Nonprofit groups have formed the Coalition for the Fair Redevelopment of Wheaton and begun advocating for money for jobs programs, small business support, subsidized housing and a multicultural plaza. There is now a petition for folks who want to join the effort.
Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said B.F. Saul was to receive a $40 million subsidy; that money is intended to cover the cost of a public portion of the project.