California has its Silicon Valley. The District has its Penn Quarter. And Montgomery County soon will have its Pike District.
The new name will be used for marketing a 1.5-mile stretch of Rockville Pike between the Capital Beltway and the Rockville city line at Twinbrook Parkway, an area commonly referred to as North Bethesda or White Flint.
The name Pike District drew the most community support and was a top pick among developers, according to Streetsense, a Bethesda firm that ran a Sept. 11 community planning session for the White Flint Partnership, a group of developers and real estate firms. Developers will use the name in marketing the area as it morphs from a sprawling suburb into a more urban area of high-rise living above shops and restaurants. Local neighborhoods will keep their community names and Zip codes.
On Tuesday, the county’s White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee approved the name unanimously.
Community members at the September meeting called Pike District “authentic,” “clean” and “straightforward,” said Sarah Wright, a creative strategist for Streetsense.
Developers have said the White Flint area needed a new name, or rebranding, to better define it and signal its transformation. The name would need to be catchy enough to grab national retailers and businesses but authentic enough to take hold with locals, they said.
“We’re really confident in this name — that this will drive economic-development results,” said Ed de Avila of Lerner Enterprises, which co-owns White Flint Mall, most of which will soon be torn down to make way for a town center.
For years, the area has had an identity crisis. It has a Rockville Zip code of 20852, which also includes mail addressed to North Bethesda, but it is not within Rockville’s city limits. The eastern portion has a Kensington postal address, while the county’s growth plan for the area was titled “White Flint.” Realtors often use North Bethesda, while many residents refer to the shopping strip as White Flint because of the Metro station and mall name.
Names that the community rejected: The Stem (“Reminds me of stem cell research,” one person wrote), Quartz District (“Don’t confuse people with another rock,” someone said) and Slate District (“too obscure”).
In the middle with some support and some naysayers were: The Rocksy (“Cute! But too cute?” one wrote, while another said “Sounds like a strip club”) and Market District (“Too bland,” someone wrote).
“Pike District” also had some critics, particularly among those who equate Rockville Pike with a bumper-to-bumper mess. “As a resident, I have no interest in identifying with the Pike,” one wrote.
Evan Goldman, of Federal Realty, which is turning the former Mid-Pike Plaza shopping center into Pike & Rose, a 24-acre “urban-minded” community, said Rockville Pike soon will be a vibrant boulevard with trees and wide sidewalks.
Whether Pike District becomes as familiar as the District’s NoMa and Arlington’s Ballston Corridor remains to be seen.
“The proof will be five, 10, 15 years from now — if it’s taken or not,” Goldman said.