Earlier this week, Viva White Oak developer Percontee presented their proposed plans for the area to approximately 140 mostly enthusiastic residents.
The new development will have four distinct neighborhoods, as shown below and described in more detail in Percontee’s presentation.
Percontee is planning to build the project in 3 phases. In phase 1, Percontee plans to build the commercial research & development area next to the FDA gate (orange bottom left). This office space could house the more than 5,000 FDA employees that are expected to come to White Oak in the next 10 years. Or it could house labspace for pharmaceutical companies that need to be close to the FDA for regulatory approval purposes.
Also in phase 1 is the residential area next to the future Washington Adventist Hospital (purple top left). This site includes land dedicated for a future school and a possible park. Lastly, phase 1 appears to include another commercial area off of Cherry Hill Road (purple on the right).
Phase 2 will complete the build out of the commercial office space on the east side, and phase 3 will be the commercial/retail space that the developer hopes will rival Bethesda Row or Rio in Gaithersburg.
A copy of the full presentation, which includes 3-d images of the building heights and scale comparisons to Bethesda, Rockville, and Silver Spring is shown below. More information, including interviews of attendees is available a related story by Montgomery County Media.
In addition to the over 10,000 jobs possible jobs coming to White Oak, the developer touted a number of public benefits, such as 20% open space throughout the plan (twice the requirement) and an extensive trail/bicyclist network. Interestingly, the developer is looking into a possible pedestrian connection that your author first proposed to the County in January.
This pedestrian connection would connect Viva White Oak to the larger White Oak community, including the recreation center and the network of trails that lead to MLK Park. It could also help reduce vehicle trips within the community and encourages healthier habits like walking and biking. Without this path, the only way to walk or bike from Viva White Oak to the recreation center is through a 2 mile path of local streets. The proposed 1,000-foot path could reduce the pedestrian travel time between the the two destinations by 90 percent, from 40 minutes to 4 minutes.
Despite all of the proposed benefits in the plans, many residents expressed concerns about traffic on 29 and Cherry Hill Road; environmental issues, such as the tree canopy and water quality; and displacement of local residents or the lack of economic opportunity for those already living in the area.
Percontee responded to the traffic concerns by pointing to BRT on 29 and seemed to suggest that a future BRT station could be located within the plan area. Percontee also pointed out that much of the traffic in White Oak today is through traffic from people trying to get to downtown Silver Spring or DC. Percontee hopes that the plan will cut down on some of that traffic because residents will want to live, work and play all within the plan area.
Percontee responded to the environmental concerns by pointing to the large amounts of open space and rigorous approval process by the Planning Department. And while Percontee can’t guarantee displacement or jobs for local residents, they hope to include residents as much as possible through future community meetings.
Percontee plans to submit the proposed sketch plan to the Planning Department by August 1.
Burtonsville resident and County Council staffer Brian Anleu contributed to this post. Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What can you do to get involved?
- Send comments about the plan to White Oak coordinator Peter Fosselman (email@example.com 240-997-6989) and/or District 5 Councilmember Tom Hucker (firstname.lastname@example.org 240-777-7960).