The debate over the future of Montgomery County – what kind of place we are, what kind of place we want to be and how we can pay to maintain our quality of life –has taken on a healthy sense of urgency during this election season. But I’m not sure that the public debate over these issues has provided a clear picture of our economic strengths and weaknesses, and – more importantly – where we need to focus our efforts to bolster our economic competitiveness.
Now that the primaries are over and dust is in the process of settling, I want to provide an assessment of our economic health and prospects. I hope to show that while we … Continue reading
As our county continues to become more diverse, public art can fill a uniting role in bringing communities together
The Wheaton, Silver Spring and Bethesda Metro stations have pieces of public art that are hard to miss. The installation of Penguin Rush Hour (pictured above), Tunnel Vision or Beacon I will likely stop you in your tracks while you wonder: “How did this artwork get here?”
Penguin Rush Hour by artist Sally Callmer was originally created as a temporary public art installation at the Silver Spring station in the 1990s. However, the community united to raise money to repair the artwork and make it permanent. The penguins were so much a part of the community’s identity that Silver Spring … Continue reading
Planners presented cutting-edge concepts and projects through record five presentations at the 2018 National American Planning Association Conference in New Orleans
Montgomery Planning hit it big in the Big Easy. We were thrilled to present five sessions at the national American Planning Association (APA) conference, held from April 21 through April 23, 2018 in New Orleans. These presentations represent the most participation ever from our agency at this annual forum and we received great audience feedback about our ideas.
This year’s APA conference attracted about 5,700 planners, elected officials and planning junkies from across the country to learn about the latest trends and solutions to the challenges of land use, economic development, community revitalization and more (see photos of … Continue reading
Montgomery County master plans recommend ways of eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries By David Anspacher and Jessica McVary
If you think implementing Vision Zero to eliminate traffic fatalities in your city is challenging, try starting a program in the suburbs where communities were designed for the automobile and largely devoid of concern for walking, bicycling and transit use!
While more than 40 cities in North America have endorsed Vision Zero, only one suburban jurisdiction – Montgomery County, Maryland – has embraced this strategy to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities and severe injuries by 2030 while increasing mobility. Montgomery County is attempting to demonstrate that realizing Vision Zero is not just possible in San Francisco and Washington DC, but also … Continue reading
Study reveals decline in number of family-sized units for county residents
The completed Rental Housing Study, presented to the Montgomery County Council in July 2017, reveals a need for large, family-sized units with 3 or more bedrooms. The study found that a large number of these family-sized units were built in the county over many years — currently, almost 40 percent of all rental units have 3+ bedrooms. These units comprise both multi-family rental apartments and owned units, condos or single-family units, known as conversion units.
However, when these units are disaggregated into multi-family rental apartments, the number of family-sized units become smaller with these units concentrated in older structures. The study also found that only around 12 percent … Continue reading
New York City’s High Line park offers lessons for public space design in Montgomery County’s urban centers
More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas. Cities and urban-style environments will house two-thirds of humanity by 2050. Montgomery County is in sync with this trend as many of its communities, including Bethesda and Silver Spring, transform into urban places with higher densities.
As our planet urbanizes, interest in studying the effects of nature on the human mind and body is increasing. Growing evidence suggests that daily exposure to nature boosts our health, productivity and creativity. Children in particular benefit greatly from regular intervals of time spent in natural environments.
These positive results underscore the importance of … Continue reading
Plans for central Montgomery County are now being realized through urban-style, mixed-use developments
In central Montgomery County, vibrant parks, walkable streets, centers of activity and new buildings are arriving in areas that were once a sea of asphalt. The movement began with the 24-acre Pike & Rose district that replaced the 1960s Mid-Pike Plaza at Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike.
Opening in 2014, this ambitious project led by Federal Realty is one of the first developments in the nation to transform a strip center into a vibrant community. It is planned to have more than 1,500 housing units, with 864 already built, and 12.5 percent of the units will be moderately priced dwelling units.
Pike & Rose is … Continue reading
First session of Winter Speaker Session focuses on infill possibilities as land becomes scarce for conventional developments.
Here is a question to discuss over your next dinner party: where can Montgomery County fit an additional 87,100 households?
Our county, like many jurisdictions across the nation, has a housing problem. Demand for homes is persistent and space for new dwellings is limited, forcing families to consider too many tradeoffs, such as paying higher housing costs or selecting homes in communities far from their employment.
The good news is that there are solutions to this problem that can be applied in Montgomery County, as revealed in the first session of the Planning Department’s Winter Speaker Series on the Economic Future … Continue reading
The Planning Department’s Research and Special Projects Division undertakes cutting-edge studies to influence important decisions about the county
Our plans rely on accurate data about demographics, housing, commercial real estate and the economy to inform recommendations and decisions about land use. This information is carefully gathered by a dedicated group within the Planning Department – the eight staff members of our Research and Special Projects Division – who help us get ahead of the planning curve with their ongoing investigations.
We like to call this division “the think tank for the county” because it provides a wealth of intelligence for the County Council and various government agencies. Currently, the research staff is hard at work on several important studies … Continue reading
Changes in work patterns and population growth are leading to new types of schools
Walking past 8000 Jones Branch Drive in Tysons Corner, it is easy to assume that offices occupy this regular, three-story building. Entering its light filled atrium, however, does not reveal a corporate lobby or water cooler talk, but a gathering space where hundreds of chattering students dart between classes and engage in extracurricular activities. Welcome to Basis Independent School, a new type of center for learning.
Basis Independent is a private K-12 school that sits within the 120,000 square feet of this former Tysons Corner office building. This renovation project was designed by the DC architecture firm Perkins Eastman with Gilbane as the design-build partner. … Continue reading