This morning’s Peerless Rockville tour of the Alaire not only provided an intimate behind-the-scenes tour with representative of JBG of this award-winning combination of residences and stores, but also discussed the plans and timing for several projects in the Twinbrook Metro area. About a dozen people joined the conversation to see the lobby, common rooms, and a one-bedroom apartment of the Alaire, then went out onto the street to discuss the current and upcoming development for the region. Among the items that caught my ears:
1. WMATA owns the land and has leased it to JBG for 99 years. That means that projects need to be approved both by the City of Rockville and WMATA.
2. WMATA wants to maintain the 1100 parking spaces currently available at the Twinbrook Metro station, so before any existing surface lots can be developed, sufficient parking has to be provided elsewhere. The parking structure currently under construction at Halpine and Chapman will allow development of the next phase of Twinbrook Commons.
3. The next phase of Twinbrook Station will occur on the west side of Fishers Lane, across from the Alaire. Called the Toronto, it will consist of a combination of residences, stores, and a parking structure and will be intentionally designed by another architectural firm to avoid a monotonous appearance for the development. Groundbreaking is expected to happen Continue reading →
About two dozen people gathered in the Red Brick Courthouse last night to hear Tony Greenberg of JBG Companies of Chevy Chase discuss conceptual plans for a three-acre lot in downtown Rockville, the site of the former Giant grocery store on Washington Street near Beall Avenue. The Town Center Action Team hosted the meeting and among those attending were councilmember Bridget Newton and chief of planning Jim Wasilak. JBG is one of the region’s major developers and is currently building the Alaire and rehabilitating the million-square-foot Health and Human Services Building in Twinbrook. Greenberg noted that JBG Rosenfeld is an affiliated but separate company that specializes in managing retail properties (such as the Twinbrook Shopping Center). JBG’s focus is primarily planning and construction of offices, hotels, and mixed use projects (i.e., retail AND residential, such as the North Bethesda Market which combines a Whole Foods Market and 400 apartments).
The Old Giant site has been vacant for years and is receiving very little revenue (mostly leases for parking). It’s part of the next phase of development for the Town Center (aka Town Center 2) and although currently sited mid-block along Washington Avenue, the City’s plans include streets bordering two other sides of the three-acre lot (an extension of Maryland Avenue from Town Center and a new Dawson Street linking Washington and Hungerford). JBG’s current conceptual plans include those streets as planned (although adjustments have been discussed to avoid awkward leftover parcels) and how their project might relate to the adjacent properties as Town Center 2 is developed. Greenberg noted that adjacent properties are separate parcels owned by others, such as the Maxim supermarket and the fire station, some of whom are not interested in selling because they want to develop the property themselves. Plans for relocating the fire station have died down, development of the Bank of America parcel have been scrapped due to the economy, but a Walgreen’s drug store is underway along Hungerford.
JBG considered various possible uses, including office, condo, and hotel, but in the current economic climate, the only ones that made sense were Continue reading →
In yesterday’s mail I received the Twinbrook Citizens Association newsletter and noted that President Christina Ginsberg devoted a portion to historic preservation in Rockville in her article, “Is Your Home ‘Historic’?” As a member of the Historic District Commission (HDC) living in Twinbrook, I appreciate the attention to this long-standing effort in the City of Rockville, but I also want to correct some factual errors and misunderstandings, particularly because they can result in unnecessary conflicts and spread misinformation. Here are the common myths regarding preservation in Rockville:
1. If my house is designated, it’ll prevent improvements. False. In Rockville, owners of historic properties can complete routine repairs and maintenance without review or approval, as long as they replace in kind. So fix your roof with the same material, it’s okay. Change from asphalt to slate, it’ll need to be approved by the HDC. Paint colors are never subject to approval, so if you like yellow and purple stripes, go ahead. Work on the inside of your house isn’t reviewed by the HDC, so remodel your kitchen and bathroom. It’s permanent changes to the outside of your house that matter, and even then, if they are thoughtfully designed Continue reading →
With about thirty other residents, I attended the public meeting on the “Baltimore Road Intermodal Access Project” at Glenview Mansion on Wednesday night, February 3. The City of Rockville is studying the entire length of Baltimore Road from the Town Center through East Rockville and Twinbrook to the city limits at Rock Creek.
A bit of background
Emad Elshafei, chief of traffic and transportation, opened the meeting by stating that Baltimore Road was studied nearly ten years ago but wasn’t implemented due to lack of funds. In 2006, the City received a federal appropriation of $4 million spread over a series of years for planning and implementation (and the City needs to provide a 20% match). The City also expanded the scope of the project to consider the needs to pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as connect to the new Town Square. Earlier this year, the City hired Rummel, Klepper and Kahl (RKK) to lead the study, documentation, and planning with the assistance of several city staff members. RKK is based in Baltimore and their previous projects include the Wilson Bridge and the Downtown Charlottesville Pedestrian Mall.
First of three public meetings
This public meeting is one of three planned prior to construction in summer 2011–if funding supports the project costs. RKK is conducting a survey of the entire route and this meeting was merely to Continue reading →
It was a beautiful sunny day on Sunday so I climbed over the wall of snow surrounding my house and walked out along Meadow Hall Road from Twinbrook Parkway to Viers Mill Road to snap some photos to remember the “snowmaggedon.” I love taking panoramas so I’ve included several that are composed of up to a dozen individual photos, so they’re very wide. These are taken using the “panorama” feature on my Canon S5 and then stitched together in MGI Photovista but I’ve done no other editing, hence the ragged edge on the top and bottom which reveals the original images. You may need to click twice to get to the largest image (first click on the thumbnail to open a size that fits on screen, then second click on that image to open a 1600 pixel wide image). At least I think that’s how it works. You’re welcome to download and share with friends and family. If you want an original image (just warning you, they can be as wide as 6000 pixels), send me an email at email@example.com. Enjoy!
It looks like this weekend’s snowfalls sets a record with about 24″ falling in Rockville. Wonderfully quiet today but that’s because most people could only step a few feet outside before encountering snow up to their knees. I cut a path to the street so I could check out the neighborhood, but boy, am I sore. In the evening, some local guys offered to shovel my driveway and sidewalk, which I gladly accepted (for a fee, naturally). It was actually nice to encounter people who found an opportunity to earn some extra cash–true entrepreneurs.
I am still surprised, however, how many people park their cars on Twinbrook Parkway even though its clearly marked as a snow emergency route. They can easily park their cars around the corner on a side street to allow the plows to fully clear the main streets so they’re safe for everyone–neighbors, police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks. I really wish the city would issue citations, even warnings, to remind people. I did spot one house who very thoughtfully cleared a space around the fire hydrant so it could be easily spotted in case of fire. Two gold stars for you!
When the sky cleared briefly as the sun was setting, I did get out to take panaromic photos of Twinbrook Parkway and Viers Mill Road. You won’t see it look like this for a long time!
For the first time in a very long time (John Tyner can perhaps assign a precise date), the Mayor and Council held one of their regular meetings at the Twinbrook Recreation Center since, as Mayor Marcuccio stated, “you can’t come to see us, so we’re coming to see you.” It was a regular meeting, so no agenda items were Twinbrook-focused, but half of the people who spoke at Citizen’s Forum were from Twinbrook and raised the following concerns: Continue reading →
|1708 Farragut, Twinbrook|
Walking is often the best way to explore a neighborhood–zooming by in a car just doesn’t give you enough time to look (and you should be watching the road, not the houses). A couple months ago while I was walking precincts for my council campaign, I discovered a house at 1708 Farragut that first drew me back because it bordered on another example of “McMansionism” in a Twinbrook neighborhood (it even had the symptomatic Palladian window!). On closer inspection it turned out to be much nicer, especially because it had a fabulous mosaic tile walkway. I’m not talking about the typical 1 x 1″ squares or hexes of colored tile–that’s definitely ho hum. But this is a walkway decorated with all sorts of durable materials, including polished stones, glass pebbles, copper pipe, opalescent glass, marble, and glass bottles, arranged in a charming and beautiful manner. It really is fantastic and worth a look if you’re into architectural crafts or tile. I don’t know the artist, but it is signed “Jane 09” in one spot (can someone help identify?). In the meantime, click on the picture or the caption, and you’ll see a photoalbum of a dozen images.
If you want to hear the candidates discuss various issues and meet them in person, various neighborhood and community groups are sponsoring forums throughout the city. These forums are public and everyone is welcome to attend. Some people have called these “debates” but with a baker’s dozen running for office, I regret they are going to be more like brief statements with no discussion (I’m not even sure how they’re going to fit everyone on stage).
At this moment (October 4 at 8 p.m.), here’s what I am aware of (it does keep changing and I’ll try to update this post through the comments, but there are no guarantees or warranties):
- Tuesday, October 7 at 7 pm: Legacy at Lincoln Park Homeowners Association at the Lincoln Park Community Center.
- Thursday, October 8 at 7 pm: West End at the Rockville Senior Center (televised, not confirmed)
- Tuesday, October 13 at 7 pm: Rockville Chamber of Commerce at the Legacy Hotel and Conference Center (televised, not confirmed). I will be unable to attend due to work-related scheduling conflicts.
- Tuesday, October 20 at 7 pm: Twinbrook Citizens Association at the Twinbrook Recreation Center (televised, not confirmed).
- Wednesday, October 21 from 7:30-10 pm: College Gardens Civic Association, Plymouth Woods Homeowners Association, and Woodley Gardens Civic Association at the College Gardens Elementary School (1700 Yale Place)
- Thursday, October 22 at 7 pm: King Farm Candidates Forum at the Saddle Ridge Community Center (300 Saddle Ridge Circle).
- Saturday, October 24 from 9:30-11:30 am: Rockville Central at the Thomas Farm Community Center.
- Thursday, October 29 from 1-3 pm: Rockville Seniors at the Senior Center.
Although the Twinbrook neighborhood is more than fifty years old, it was only ten years ago that the City of Rockville built a community recreation center here. Today we celebrated this achievement, which brought out lots of people, young and old, on this beautiful day with a welcome from Mayor Susan Hoffman and tables filled with information about various city programs, including the PTA, Human Rights Commission, and the Twinbrook Citizens Association, and prizes provided by the City and Noodles and Co.