White Oak could be the “Silicon Valley of Healthcare”

Artist's rendering of Viva White Oak.
Artist’s rendering of Viva White Oak. Image from the developer, Global LifeSci Development Corporation.

East County has waited too long for investment in jobs and transit while the rest of the county prospers. The White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan would provide up to 10,000 new jobs from three projects: the “Viva White Oak” development, expansion of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and construction of the new Washington Adventist Hospital.

With the planned construction of the Route 29 Bus Rapid Transit, White Oak has the potential to be a hub for residential, retail, and high-tech industrial development. Due to its proximity to the FDA, it has been referred to as potentially becoming the “Silicon Valley of Healthcare“.

However, none of these benefits can be fully realized if the County Council does not approve the “Viva White Oak” project, a 300-acre site between the FDA campus and Cherry Hill Road. In order for the project to move forward, the County must approve a “General Development Agreement” (GDA) which would allow the sale of 110 acres of County land so that it can be developed. The GDA has several protections for the County, including a Phasing Plan, Planning Department review, a set-aside of land for County or FDA use, and no County expenditures for roads until the developer begins redevelopment.

Viva White Oak conceptual land use plan.
Viva White Oak conceptual land use plan. Image from the developer, Global LifeSci Development Corporation.

In order to meet future transportation needs, the County also plans to invest $47 million in new roads within the site and about $130 million for upgraded intersections, bikeways, and transit systems. A significant portion of these—possibly half—would be paid by the developer (the exact amount depends on the results of a traffic impact analysis).

The White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan would attract good jobs, alleviate housing scarcity, and provide much-needed infrastructure revitalization to East County. A majority of East County residents agree that “Now is East County’s turn“, and we are ready to see growth!

Note: a future blog post will describe the project in a bit more detail, with a summary of the latest discussions taking place at the County Council.

2017/2/3 UPDATE: Here is the developer’s website to promote Viva White Oak, which I omitted in the original post. Apparently it was launched this week, based on a January 30 post on their facebook page, which notes that their website was recently updated.

What can you do to get involved?

  • If you support revitalization of Viva White Oak, sign this petition urging the County Council to allow the project to proceed and to fund the necessary transportation investments.
  • If you are concerned about this project, contact the County Council, since they will be voting on this project in the next few weeks.
  • Follow the project on Facebook.

3 thoughts on “White Oak could be the “Silicon Valley of Healthcare””

    1. Hi Brian, Thanks for visiting the website and commenting! You are correct about FDA’s role here. To clarify, it’s anticipated that much of the research and job growth here would not come from FDA, but rather from companies that are regulated by the FDA, which is a huge portion of the US economy. According to FDA’s website, “FDA-regulated products account for about 20 cents of every dollar of annual spending by U.S. consumers” (source: https://blogs.fda.gov/fdavoice/index.php/2016/11/consumer-expenditure-on-fda-regulated-products-20-cents-of-every-dollar/). The vision of Viva White Oak is to provide an attractive community for these companies to set up shop in close proximity to the regulators so that the industry can streamline approvals for new products.

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