Despite the Headlines, Renters Never Left Dense Downtowns During Pandemic

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Written by Todd Fawley-King, Lisa Govoni

During debates and testimony about the proposed Attainable Housing Strategy, multiple participants have wondered about the housing landscape following the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to allow for more housing in established single-family zones. Will people want to live in denser housing? Will we be able to satisfy our housing needs with the empty units sitting in our downtowns? Certainly the headlines from newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post gave that impression: “America’s biggest cities were already losing their allure;” “The Pandemic is making people reconsider city living.” These newspapers even verged on fearmongering: “Which cities are renters fleeing, and where are they going?;” “They can’t leave the Bay … Continue reading

The Future for Montgomery County’s Industrial Lands

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This blog was originally posted on August 4, 2021 and has been updated to add in research and information from the Montgomery Planning’s Historic Preservation and Research and Strategic Projects offices about the equity issues involved in examining Montgomery County’s industrial land uses.

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic’s increase of e-commerce and package fulfillment, falling industrial vacancy rates, and the surge in development of industrial space regionally and nationwide have communities rethinking the amount of industrial land they need. Industrial clusters are often targeted for redevelopment when they are near transit facilities because they are less valuable per acre than higher density and/or higher rent, office, retail, and multifamily properties. Additionally, jurisdictions that are in the core of metropolitan areas … Continue reading

Analyzing the future of mixed-use development in Montgomery County

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A conversation with Research Planner Nicholas Holdzkom on the Montgomery County Mixed-use Development Study

By Nicholas Holdzkom and Karen Blyton

You may have noticed new apartment buildings in your area that are being built on top of grocery stores, restaurants, or other retailers.  Montgomery County has allowed mixed-use development in buildings around activity centers for many years with the goal of creating interactive streets, providing meaningful public spaces, and creating communities where people can live, work, shop, and play within a given neighborhood.  Numerous studies show that mixed-use districts generate higher real estate value, reduced vehicle miles traveled, and higher transit ridership. These mixed-use properties, which are common in downtown Silver Spring and Bethesda, have accounted for nearly 50 … Continue reading

The Opportunity Insights Project and Economic Mobility in Montgomery County, Part 2: A Closer Look at Neighborhoods

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Part 1 of this blog series used data from the Opportunity Insights project to show that children raised in Montgomery County were able to move further up the economic ladder than children growing up in other parts of the United States. However, the blog also showed that there is a strong correlation between economic mobility   and race and ethnicity, and it suggested that, depending on how the population is divided, the prosperity of places does not always coincide with the prosperity of the people living in them. This blog explores these issues in more detail by focusing on the county’s neighborhoods and shows that economic mobility across the County and within neighborhoods differs significantly based on race and ethnicity.

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A data-driven approach to addressing equity issues in Montgomery County

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A conversation with Montgomery Planning’s “equity data team” on the award-winning Equity Focus Areas analysis and story map

By Pamela Zorich, Jay Mukherjee, and Karen Blyton

Montgomery Planning is committed to eliminating racial inequities and creating equitable communities within Montgomery County. One key part of this work is the Equity Focus Areas (EFA) analysis, created by our Equity Data Team. The team recently won a 2021 Data Viz Award from the Association of Public Data Users for their story map created to illustrate their findings.

We sat down with two members of the Equity Data Team, Pamela Zorich and Jay Mukherjee, to discuss their work on this analysis, how it may help create a more equitable Montgomery County, … Continue reading

Would You Trade Your Car for an App?

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Investors and technological giants are betting billions that Mobility as a Service will coax people out of vehicle ownership.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is the idea that one does not need to personally own a vehicle to satisfy their mobility needs. It is a user-centric and technologically driven experience that seeks to integrate “a full range of mobility options in one digital-mobility-platform offering with public transportation as the backbone” (APTA, 2019). It moves beyond the current siloed mobility services (public transit, Uber, Lyft, Capital Bikeshare, Lime, etc.) to create a one-stop-shop for transportation services, integrating a variety of mobility options and payment methods, into a single application. To achieve this, cities such as Helsinki have passed laws … Continue reading

The Future of the Montgomery County Office Market, Part 3: Attracting Office Users Post COVID

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The first and second entries of this series on the future of Montgomery County’s office market examined how widespread telework will change the value of office space and explored various scenarios for future office demand. In this third and final part of the series, let’s dive further into what will be needed to convince office users to continue to rent physical space in Montgomery County as we enter an era in which employers can more readily work from home at substantially lower cost. The competitiveness of our more than 74 million square feet of office space is a significant factor contributing to the $1.8 billion in property taxes Montgomery County collects (from both commercial and residential properties), the largest … Continue reading

Moratorium Damages County’s Competitiveness and Affordability, Fails to Fix School Capacity Shortfalls

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The Montgomery County Council has the chance to better the County’s future by voting to approve the County Growth Policy

We’ve grown accustomed to the idea that developers are expected to pay a large part of the cost of building schools, based on the eminently reasonable theory that the construction of new housing generates demand for classroom space as families move into the housing, have children, and send them to local schools. If the schools get too crowded, county rules impose a moratorium on the development of new housing until classroom space is made available to “catch up.”

The logic behind this approach appears unassailable. If new housing produces a need for more seats in schools, it follows … Continue reading

Does Montgomery County Have What it Takes to be Economically Resilient During & After COVID-19?

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Keys to Building Economic Resilience in Montgomery County Post-Pandemic

As we await post-pandemic life and speculate about our economic future, the idea of economic resilience—how quickly and easily we as individuals and society can adapt to and recover from a devastating economic blow—is on everyone’s minds. So let’s examine the idea of economic resilience: what the term “resilience” means for a local economy, what characteristics and conditions make local economies resilient in the face of economic challenges and how Montgomery County can position itself to be more resilient.

Local Economies, Adaptive Resilience, and Relationships

Economic resilience is adaptive resilience. This is different from the type of resilience we expect from our physical infrastructure, which “bounces back” to normal functioning … Continue reading

Five ways to support the retail and restaurant sector battered by COVID-19 restrictions to recover

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The retail that helps define Montgomery County’s character is struggling. The necessary COVID-19 restrictions that reduce crowds will continue to challenge retail in Montgomery County even after the lockdown eases, but the county has policies and programs that could help landlords, retailers, employees and the customers they serve.

Montgomery County’s extensive retail sector with 40.6 million leasable square feet across 2,390 properties (Source: CoStar) serves a diverse population and is a key amenity for the County. In their 2017 Retail Trends Study, the Montgomery County Planning Department highlighted vibrant, small retail businesses and recommended that the County would “benefit from focusing on the development and support of these unique small businesses, as these businesses are market differentiators for the … Continue reading