East County ready for rapid growth

“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.

Jewru Bandeh discusses the future of East County in White Oak
Jewru Bandeh discusses the future of East County in White Oak. Photo by Eric Rasch.

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!

Photo of me and daughter in front of bus.
Buses are my daughter’s favorite vehicle, probably because she doesn’t have to be buckled in. Photo by author.

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.

Photo of Peter Myo Khin and Jewru Bandeh standing at front of bus
Peter (left) and Jewru were our knowledgeable and energetic tour guides. Photo by Eric Rasch.

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.

Photo of gated entrance at future Viva White Oak development
This abandoned WSSC facility will one day become a thriving urban district. Photo by Eric Rasch.

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.

Photo of early stages of construction site
Construction at Washington Adventist Hospital. Photo by Eric Rasch.

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.

Good Hope Neighborhood Recreation Center: a community facility that will not only host recreation activities, but also concerts and cultural exhibits. (see related blog post)

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.

Photo of vacant storefronts in Burtonsville Crossing
One of the few remaining businesses at Burtonsville Crossing. Photo by Dan Reed.

Victory Crossing, a 105-unit mixed-income independent senior living facility, just east of the recently-built MCPD District 3 station.

Rendering of Victory Housing
Rendering of Victory Housing by developer. Image obtained from MoCo Planning Department DAIC.

Colesville Senior Living Facility: a 6-acre assisted living center with 100 units on New Hampshire Ave, south of the the ICC and adjacent to the Cambodian Buddhist Temple.

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.

Photo of Roy Chevara, Fisseha Adugna, Peter Myo Khin, Jewru Bandeh, my daughter and me.
The group poses in front of the East County Regional Services Center. L-R: ECCAB members Roy Chevara, Fisseha Adugna, and Peter Myo Khin; ECRSC Director Jewru Bandeh; my daughter and me. Photo by Eric Rasch.

Kudos to Eric Rasch, Operations Manager of the Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza, for documenting the event with excellent photos.

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