Montgomery Village, a 2,000-acre planned community near Gaithersburg, is now home to 19,000 people. Founded 12 years ago, it is beginning to have a mature look.
Many of the newer residents are young persons who were attracted to houses selling below the median price for Montgomery County, a jurisdiction where most new detached houses are priced over $80,000.
The median price for new dwellings in Montgomery Village a little lower than the county's median of $70,000 for resale houses. Units can be bought in the planned community for as low as $39,000 - and has high as $140,000.
"It is sad, but our prices generally are lower than those elsewhere in the county," said Clarence E. Kettler, president of Kettler Brothers Inc., the 27-year-old firm that is the developer-builder of Montgomery Village. The village now has about 1,000 detached houses, 3,500 town houses and 2,000 rental apartments.
Kettler, 50, started the firm with his older brothers, Milton and Charles, in 1953, two years after he was graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in economics. "I was doing a few single houses here and there," he recalled the other day. "Milt was a salesman and Charlie was general contracting gas stations for oil firms."
As residential and commercial builders, the Kettlers' biggest undertaking in this area has been Montgomery Village, which was conceived in the 1960s. When the village is completed in the late 1980s, it is expected to have 30,000 residents and bus connections to the Metro rapid rail system.
It is estimated that half of the working population of Montgomery Village is employed in the nearby Rte. 270 corridor, where the Bureau of Standards, IBM, Comsat and private research and development firms are located. An estimated 20 percent of the population commutes to Washington and the rest work elsewhere.
Located in the geographical center of Montgomery County, the village is on the edge of the town of Gaithersburg and about 25 miles north of the White House. As a planned community, it is different than most others because the developing firms has built all the housing.
The philosophy of the developer was stated bluntly a few years ago by Clarence Kettler. He reacted then to the county's no-growth policy by stating that a continued proliferation of two-acre zoing could make Montgomery County a "rich man's Appalachia," which would eventually exclude lower- and moderate-residents.
Today, many sections of Montgomery Village are sites of high-density building. But it is also a place where young persons are finding small dwelling priced under $50,000 and where low- to moderate-income families can find houses for less than $40,000.
That's because the developer uses the county's moderate-priced housing bonus program to obtain higher density zoning.The firm sets aside certain sections of town houses for persons whose incomes qualify them for moderate-priced units.
Montgomery Village's 2,000 rental dwellings are currently all rented.
"We do not have plans for conversion to condiminium ownership," Clarence Kettler said. "We cannot build more rental apartments in today's price climate but we might build more later." Thirty percent of the land at Montgomery Village is open space.
Areawide, Kettler said that 90 percent of the firm's planned production this year - 625 units in Maryland, the District and Northern Virginia - have been sold. Buyers make deposits eight months before the houses are scheduled to be completed.
"Our pricing is now based on inflation of 1 1/4 percent monthly and we'd like to be presold 10 months ahead of production," Kettler said. "It makes for a stable operation."
The Kettler firm also builds at two locations in the Lake Ridge community in Prince William County, at Signal Hill in Fairfax County, at North Farm in Montgomery County and at Westover Place (a development of expensive town houses) in Northwest Washington.
The company is planning to build terrace cluster town houses in a 22-acre section of Montgomery Village called Dockside, but won't start marketing the houses until 1981. The site overlooks Lake Whetstone, around which some of the village's most expensive houses were built in the late 1960s.
Dockside will have 25 units per acre, but the contemporary dwellings will have inner courtyards and views of the lake. The firm hasn't set prices yet, but says that some of the units will be in the lower range while bigger town houses near the water will cost more. CAPTION: Picture 1, Clarence E. Kettler, president of Kettler Brothers, developer of Montgomery Village, strolls at the site of Dockside, a town house project his company plans. By James A. Parcell - The Washington Post; Picture 2, Thomas Choice West is one of the town house developments at the Montgomery Village planned community. By James A. Parcell - The Washington Post