North Bethesda? White Flint? Something else? Readers weigh in.


Stefany Morales, 26, and Carlos Morales, 26, walk the family dog through the North Bethesda Market on Thursday. (Photo by Amanda Voisard/For the Washington Post) (Amanda Voisard/For the Washington Post)

Can you hear yourself saying, “Let’s meet in NoBe” or “What’s that new restaurant in the Pike District?”

When it comes to renaming a 1.5-mile swath of Rockville Pike between Montgomery County’s White Flint and Twinbrook Metro stations, residents and Washington Post readers have strong opinions and plenty of ideas. They also enjoy a good mocking.

Name suggestions from a recent county poll and Post readers commenting on a story about efforts to rebrand the corridor ranged from the earnest (“Stone’s Throw, since it is right outside the capital”) to the sarcastic (“Gridlock, because that’s what this [new development] is going to create.”)

There are the romantics (“Let us call it Paris?”) and the more mundane (“Just give in and name it Starbucks.”) And there are the more literary, as in F. Scott District for the author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who is buried up the Pike in Rockville.

The area — now known as North Bethesda or White Flint — also took a beating for its suburban affluence. Among the suggestions: North North Georgetown, Bourgeois Boulevard, Pretentious Pike, Volvo Country, Pompoustown, and Doughkeepsie.

Montgomery County officials, developers, business leaders and residents are mulling a new name for the area as it transforms from an auto-centric sea of aging suburban strip malls and vast parking lots into a walkable, urban hub of high-rise living above shops and restaurants.

And what to do with Rockville Pike, the bumper-to-bumper mess that connotes anything but hip, urban living? Some Post readers say embrace the landmark with a name like Pike District, Pike Corridor, Pike Market, South Pike or Pike Place (too Seattle-ish?).

Others say kick the six-lane monstrosity to the curb: “How about ‘Long, Dreary Commercial Strip With Very Poor Transit Service, or LDCSWVPTS for short?’ ” one wrote.

“It’s Rockville,” another wrote. “Nothing anyone does with White Flint and Rockville Pike can ever whitewash this miserable strip of commerce.”

Others suggested, only half-jokingly, Congestion Corner, Exxon Gateway, Pike Parking Lot or Developers’ Corridor. “How about Condo Corner, since the area is being overrun with them?” one county poll respondent wrote.

On a more serious note, some suggested a rock, as in Rockville, theme: Quarry Heights (for the area’s high elevation), Flintrock or Bedrock District (too Flintstones?).

Of the four ideas floated by developers and county officials, Pike District is the clear frontrunner, clinching 58 percent of the vote tallied so far in a county poll this week. In second-place is Pike Corridor, with 24 percent. Two other options under consideration — Market District and Slate District — are running far behind, with 14 percent each.

But almost twice as many people — 810 so far — have voted for something other than the four top choices.

Most of those opt for keeping North Bethesda or White Flint, with North Bethesda leading by a wide margin. “Try North Bethesda — what we’re already known by,” one poll respondent wrote. And another: “White Flint -- it works!”

NoBe (short for North Bethesda, a la Manhattan’s SoHo) also got a few write-ins.

Ken Hartman, the director of the county’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center who is active in the name discussions, said perhaps the poll’s two highest finishers — Pike District and North Bethesda — could be combined into a “Pike District of North Bethesda.”

Hartman said county officials want a name everyone — developers, business owners, residents — are happy with, so they’ll be eager to promote it to a national, state and local audience.

That might not be easy.

“All are awful,” one respondent wrote of the top four top name options under consideration.

“Really,” another wrote, “It’s already known as The Pike, and that’s what people will call it, no matter what. Why make up something that will only sound pretentious?”

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Katherine Shaver is a transportation and development reporter. She joined The Washington Post in 1997 and has covered crime, courts, education and local government but most prefers writing about how people get — or don’t get — around the Washington region.
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