“East County will soon be the fastest-growing region in Montgomery County”. Standing at the edge of a nearly-vacant 300-acre site, Jewru Bandeh excitedly notes that within the next few years, there will be a massive expansion of homes, jobs, and retail in White Oak.
On December 17, 2016, My daughter and I joined Jewru and several others on a Bus Tour of East County to “explore unique communities, current and future developments, and other points of interest”. It was the first big snow of the winter, so we had to bundle up a lot!
The bus tour was jointly organized by Jewru and Peter Myo Khin, one of the more active members of the East County Citizens Advisory Board. Jewru is the Director of the East County Regional Services Center, a County government office located at 3300 Briggs Chaney Road that provides services and problem-solving assistance to the local community. The ECRSC also serves as the meeting place for the ECCAB, an 18-member group of volunteers that discuss East County issues and advises the County government on solutions.
During the tour, we visited several sites that will soon be developed into major housing and job centers. We also discussed issues that affect East County, such as the County’s efforts to address the lack of pedestrian infrastructure, misconceptions of poverty, crime, diversity and immigration in East County, and alleviate congestion.
One thing that Jewru emphasized more than once during the bus tour was that East County has a very healthy diverse group of communities, ranging from million-dollar homes in Quaint Acres and Spencerville to modest multi-family housing units in Briggs Chaney and White Oak. However, as Jewru points out, we are all part of the “East County” community.
A long list of projects
Below is a partial list of new developments on the horizon for East County that we visited during the tour.
Viva White Oak: a 300-acre site between the FDA campus and Cherry Hill Road, planned for approximately 5,000 houses, 10,000 jobs, and 7 million square feet of commercial space, including several hotels and biotech firms.
Washington Adventist Hospital: White Oak Campus: a $330 million 170-bed hospital on a 48-acre site that will create nearly 2,000 permanent hospital jobs.
White Oak Town Center: a 7-acre mixed-use development with a grocery store and 289 residences; at Old Columbia Pike and Industrial Parkway, across from the Silver Spring VEIP/MVA.
Hillandale Gateway Project: a mixed-use development with a offices, retail, and 300 residential units, which will replace the Holly Hall Apartments. This development located next to the former campus of the National Labor College, which was purchased by the Amalgamated Transit Union in 2014.
East County Senior Housing: a 3-story, 122 unit affordable-income independent senior living community adjacent to the ECRSC.
Burtonsville Crossing Shopping Center: the once-vibrant, but now nearly-abandoned shopping center which is now zoned and planned for mixed use. The adjacent Burtonsville Park & Ride is slated to become a major transit hub when Route 29 BRT is completed.
RCCG Jesus House: a 1,600-seat church with a 350-student K-12 school, gym/youth center, on New Hampshire Ave, north of the Cloverly Village Center.
I plan to post more information about some of the projects above on this blog in the next few weeks, but for now, suffice to say that there are big changes coming to East County! I for one look forward to seeing more investment in our region.
What can you do to get involved?
- Attend East County Citizens Advisory Board meetings to learn about upcoming developments in your neighborhood.
- Find development plans and applications on the Montgomery Planning website. They have a map of developments and a searchable directory.
- If you are concerned about a particular development or a plan, contact the Planning Department or the Planning Board.