Written by Todd Fawley-King & Atul Sharma
The sudden experiment in widespread telework for office workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has pundits appropriately questioning the future of the office. Much of this discussion focuses on using technology to make buildings safer, but there are more fundamental questions about the need for and relevance of office space itself. The sector is at risk of disruption: an estimated 40% to 50% of the 472,126 jobs in Montgomery County could be performed at home by telecommuting.[i] That in turn has significant implications for real estate in Montgomery County, which has 1,533 office buildings offering 73.3 million leasable square feet, approximately 12% of which was vacant in Q4 2019 before … Continue reading
Through our regulatory, master planning and policy efforts, the Montgomery County Planning Department is working to emphasize design excellence in our urban, suburban and rural communities. That is why we are excited to support award-winning developments in Montgomery County that are helping us to realize neighborhood design goals set by communities in our area master plans. This year the DC/MD chapter of NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association for developers, owners and investors of office, industrial, retail and mixed-use real estate, recognized seven projects from Montgomery County at their 18th Awards of Excellence on October 14.
We at Montgomery Planning are just as proud of these projects as the winners themselves. We know that design excellence is an … Continue reading
The Montgomery County Historic Preservation Program is exploring the relationship between benevolent or mutual aid societies and Black schools, churches and cemeteries established over 100 years ago to better understand and preserve these important features of our past. These institutions were important to the growth of African American communities in Montgomery County. Many African American mutual aid societies were established after the Civil War to provide support for newly freed people who received no compensation for a lifetime of labor. This support often included financial assistance in the event of job loss or illness and burial after death. Benevolent society lodge halls were often located adjacent to or near African American schools, churches and burial grounds; these institutions were … Continue reading
By Todd Fawley-King and Atul Sharma
You’ve probably heard someone criticize a neighborhood or shopping area as “cookie cutter.” This description, often used to identify construction that has standardized or repetitive features, usually implies the buildings lack character and will diminish their surroundings. There is a lot to like about “cookie-cutter” construction; sameness can be enriching, and this type of design can help build great places quickly and affordably.
Good cookie-cutter design is ingrained in the urban fabric of America, enabling the rapid settlement and expansion of the United States. In New England the repeated “cookie” is the 6-by-6 mile square township administered by a central village. These townships were organized around the quintessential church, meeting house, and … Continue reading
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
Written by Jesse Cohn & Eli Glazier
There’s not doubt that over the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way that we live, work, play and travel. However, some of these short-term impacts of the pandemic may extend into the future for years to come, long after we find a vaccine.
Experts and practitioners in transportation, real estate, economics, public health and other disciplines have shared their initial predictions of what life will look like in the wake of COVID-19.
And as planners who must prepare for these potential long-term changes and adapt accordingly, we have been listening closely. A core group of us at Montgomery Planning have spent the past few months reviewing recent … Continue reading
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
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
Several weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, it has already become cliché to say that we are living in unprecedented times, but it is still too early to understand exactly how severe the economic damage will be, and how it will effect Montgomery County and its residents. While hundreds of thousands are already suffering the direct health effects of the COVID-19, the indirect economic fallout from the near closure of the economy is also becoming apparent. From the weeks ending March 21 through April 11, over 22 million people filed for Federal unemployment insurance in the U.S., including over 38,600 people in Montgomery County. This volume has far surpassed all previous records. The $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program created by … Continue reading
For more than a year, we have been working on Thrive Montgomery 2050, an update to the General Plan directing the long-term vision and direction for land use and growth in the county. While public attention is understandably more focused on short-term issues, long-term thinking remains critical to guide how we respond to changes in the future.
From the beginning of the Thrive 2050 planning process, we have emphasized that the plan needs to be flexible and adaptable to a future in which change seems to happen more rapidly than in the past. Where to do we want to be as a county in five, 10, 30 years? The framework for the plan identifies three key themes as core … Continue reading