Developers unveil plan for property near Wheaton Metro station

Montgomery County is giving redevelopment of Wheaton another shot.

The county, in partnership with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, recently chose developers StonebridgeCarras and the Bozzuto Group to lead a $200 million effort aimed at turning the neighborhood into a more walkable, urban community that would take better advantage of the neighborhood’s Red Line Metro station.

Previous efforts to overhaul Wheaton failed after concerns about costs and the effect on Wheaton’s small and independent businesses.

This time, the agencies are putting up three Wheaton properties to make an overhaul work: the Mid-County Regional Services Center Offices at 2406 Reedie Dr., and parking lots at 11143 Grandview Ave. and 2510 Ennalls Ave. In their stead, the project calls for a new office building for the Park and Planning Commission, residential towers and a town square of more than an acre.

Once the new county offices are built, the dated building where they are currently located, at 8787 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring, would be torn down and replaced with housing and retail. Both the Wheaton and Silver Spring projects require approval from the county council.

The developers began meeting with residents of both communities last week to discuss their plans.

Doug Firstenberg, a principal at StonebridgeCarras, said the buildings envisioned for Wheaton would total around 500,000 square feet. But he said the overhaul would bear little resemblance to downtown Silver Spring, which attracted chains such as Red Lobster, Fuddruckers and Chick-fil-A, because it includes very little new retail.

“In Wheaton, they’re looking for a project that’s going to lead a broad-based revitalization of the core, that is going to have great public space and an anchor that is a county office building, ” Firstenberg said.

Toby S. Bozzuto, president of Greenbelt-based Bozzuto Development, said the project would bring workers to the area during the day and only add retail that would accentuate what is there already.

“Our intent is to put more bodies in the buildings during the day, you know, more people in the restaurants, and we’re hoping that will help existing businesses there,” he said.

Both developers have been focused on projects near Red Line Metro stations; StonebridgeCarras is in NoMa and Bethesda, while Bozzuto is in Tenleytown and Brookland. But they say said the newest proposals will be specific to the communities for which they are planned.

“We are not putting a Panera on the ground floor,” Bozzuto said of the Wheaton project. “I think that’s an important nuance.”

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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