Developers propose 350-400 apartments on Upton's sitegreenspun.com : LUSENET : Kentlands : One Thread
Developers propose 350-400 apartments on Upton's site (See Kentlands Town Crier). Lakelands has 253 apartments and 204 townhouse condos approved totally(source Lakelands Leader). Do we need any more density in Kentlands? Would you want to live on Booth Street with this added traffic? What about the city housing policy?
-- (email@example.com), June 15, 2001
I think this proposal is a terrific idea. These are upscale, luxury apartments. Right now the vacant lot and empty shell (Upton's) look bad and give the impression of failure. This site will probably sit forever if we wait for another retail vendor - as the Town Crier article explained, there is no pedestrian access from the other shops, it's very difficult to get to from Quince Orchard, and you can't get there at all from Great Seneca. Residential makes much more sense. The Town Crier also pointed out that the traffic expected from these apartments will be considerably less than would have been generated by Fresh Fields or another similar store.
-- Steven Salzberg (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 18, 2001.
Steve I disagree. Developers would be putting almost as much apartments as Lakelands has apartments and townhouse condos on this little parcel. If the city sticks to it's housing policy "Encourage a diversity of housing types throughout the City. In mixed use development projects, and in residential projects generating more than 100 units attain a mix housing types that is comprised of a minimum of 50 percent single family detached housing unless the public interest or the Master Plan otherwise dictates."
As citizens of Gaithersburg let's not jump to make second mistake on this site.
-- Bill Edens (email@example.com), June 19, 2001.
Bill, I see your concern about adding density and understand your caution about rushing to develop a site that has failed once.
A general concern I have about development proposals is that our community seems better able to squash development ideas than to support them. I'm thinking specifically of Dimos Chrissos and others' dramatic opposition to Target being an anchor store for Midtown. Target chose the Washingtonian Center instead of Midtown, and I believe that we missed an opportunity that would have jump-started development.
So what I'd ask you and others to consider is adding on to the proposal for apartments, rather than oppose it outright. For example, there has long been groups interested in establishing co- housing in Montgomery County and that came up at both the Kentlands and Lakelands planning charettes. Might the developer be encouraged to fund that type of development in addition to the apartments?
Or, what if the developer agreed to contribute a public space in Market Square. I've heard people talk about creating a summer sprinkler park like you find at Sesame Place. It would be great if people would brainstorm other ideas that would combine the developer's interest with our communal interests.
One last thought - and this is just my personal opinion: I think density is the strongest selling point about Kentlands. When I walk or bike around the community, I like the variety of blocks with single family homes and more dense housing types, but I personally prefer the denser sections of our neighborhood. I like running into people, and that happens to me more often where we have cottages and townhouses and, yes, apartments.
-- Michael Berney (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 19, 2001.
Mike I'm not opposed creative development, and I have not seen the plan. If this developer were going to give the community some great benefit I would reconsider (Your summer sprinkler would be a good start). What I think should be on that site is an office building, we have enough retail and enough density, our restaurants need a good lunch crowd, we need daytime retail not just night and weekend retail. Office would help create that. Let wait for the right thing. You're right that the Target-Washingtonian plan should have been in Kentlands.
-- Bill Edens (email@example.com), June 19, 2001.
According to the Gazette, the only retail business expressing an interest in the Uptons site was a mini-storage firm. They would carve up the interior into small spaces and use the outdoor lot for storage of boats and RVs. I sure don't want that in our neighborhood.
Mike Berney is right about the Target fiasco. We and the developer will suffer from that decision for decades. We have shot ourselves in the foot.
-- Jim Hubbard (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 19, 2001.
Jim, I see Jennifer Russell and Fred Felton (both work for the city of Gaithersburg) are on the notice list for this discussion. Maybe one of them could answer the question. Is a mini-storage a use permitted in the old Uptons site? If they don't respond I will call them and find out the procedure, and ask whether this is permissible on this site or would they have to go to the Mayor and Council for approval.
-- Bill Edens (email@example.com), June 19, 2001.
I emailed Fred Felton with the question and this is Ms. Russel's response:
As you are probably aware, the MXD zone permits a wide range of uses, and prohibits only a few specific uses. Technically, self-storage would be permitted in the zone, however that does not necessarily mean it would be allowed. In terms of process, the SDP (Schematic Development Plan) would have to be amended. A change of use on the site, i.e. from retail (Upton's) to self-storage (industrial) would require approval from the Mayor and City Council and a full public hearing process, before the Planning Commission and the Mayor and Council (either together or separately) This would include posting of the property, notice, receipt of a recommendation from the Planning Commission as well as significant input from the neighborhood. Accordingly, it would be difficult to predict what might occur. Just for your information, as of now, while there has been plenty of discussion about the site, there have been no submissions.
Jennifer Russel, Director Planning and Code Administration City of Gaithersburg, Maryland
(301) 258-6330 x129 (voice) (301) 258-6336 (fax)
31 South Summit Avenue Gaithersburg, Maryland 20877-2098
firstname.lastname@example.org -- http://www.ci.gaithersburg.md.us
The opinions expressed in this message are not necessarily those of the City of Gaithersburg Staff, Mayor or Council.
Thank you very much Mr. Felton and Ms. Russel, only in Gaithersburg can you get great service like this.
-- Bill Edens (email@example.com), June 20, 2001.
The city now has its Housing Policy up on their web page for all to review. Click here.
-- Bill Edens (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 21, 2001.
Please allow me to introduce myself; I am a member of the team which is exploring the possibility of redeveloping the Uptons site as upscale apartments. I have been reading the dialogue here with much interest and would like to offer a few comments.
Retail here is and will be a losing proposition for all the reasons set forth by Mike Watkins in the Town Crier article. The strong interest from the mini-storage operator simply shows how unattractive this site is to all the stores, restaurants, and others who have rejected the site over the last two years.
Steven's comment about traffic is exactly right; the traffic to be generated from 400 apartments is 96% less than that generated from the existing retail use - assuming it gets a tenant, that is (source: Wells & Associates using Montgomery County Local Area Transportation Review Rates). Based on Bill's interest in office use, I have requested a separate study for office traffic generation and will post that as soon as I receive it. My experience tells me that office will generate much more traffic than upscale apartments will, but we'll see what the experts say. There are many other reasons why we feel office is not appropriate here, but we can discuss that next time if anyone wishes to.
I do want to stress that this has been and will be a wholly collaberative process. While we have been working on this idea since April, as Ms. Russel points out, we haven't even made a submission yet. We have met with residents along Booth Street, the Kentlands Citizen Assembly (at their May 23 meeting), merchants within Kentlands, and others to solicit feedback and ideas on how to improve on our original idea. Many more meetings and discussions will follow. Just one idea which has surfaced is to utilize the small, unused triangular parcel between the back of the Uptons and Booth Street (which parcel is owned by the KCA) for a park, with our group paying for park furniture, landscaping, and perhaps even some sculpture, fountain or other distinctive feature. It was suggested by another resident that we construct two or three small stores (like an ice cream parlor or small bookstore) behind this park so that patrons of the stores can sit in the park while reading or enjoying an ice cream cone. Both of these are very real possibilities. To us, this type of discussion and collaboration is exactly what makes Kentlands such a great place, and we welcome the chance to continue it.
Thank you all for your interest in our project. I will plan on being an active member of this forum and will address any questions or concerns as quickly and completely as I can.
-- Andy Brown (email@example.com), June 22, 2001.
Welcome Andy, How will your team address the City of Gaithersburg housing policy? 1. Encourage a diversity of housing types throughout the City. In mixed use development projects, and in residential projects generating more than 100 units, attain a mix of housing types that is comprised of a minimum of 50 percent single family detached housing unless the public interest or the Master Plan otherwise dictates. 2. Refrain from the approval of the development of residential communities composed solely of townhouse units or multi-family units unless the public interest otherwise dictates. To get your plan approved has the city planning staff embraced your proposal? From your team's perspective, do they (city planning staff) think it's a good idea?
-- Bill Edens (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 22, 2001.
The community currently has many residential units. Would it be possible to have other proposed uses, not just rental units or an exteremly unlikely mini storage business (it would be politically untenable to approve), from the developer? The community has rental units already, but does not have office space or a small hotel. I would think that the announcement of MedImmune HQ located just across Great Seneca from the area would make the Uptons/Boston Market site more attractive to commercial uses. I'd like to hear more possibilities before falling back on just more rental units. There may even be a way to combine residential rental units with commerical units (office space, small hotel, etc.). I think the questions of city housing policy, traffic impacts, and exactly why retail has failed at a prominent location (the intersection of Quince Orchard Blvd.-Route 124 and Great Seneca) should be addressed as we consider all potential uses of the site.
-- David L. Friend (email@example.com), June 25, 2001.
While I think that we all agree that the Upton's site has been a problem, I am concerned about the density proposed with the 350 to 400 unit apartments. That looks like a great deal of housing for that space. We already have the Beacon Place apartments which seem to be what the proposed ones would be like. Does anyone know how many units are in the Beacon place complex?
Although I certainly see Michael's point about the interesting nature of the denser sections of Kentlands, more is often not better. You can keep filling a cup up to and then over the brim, but once the surface tension is broken, you have a mess.
I think that what we would all like is to see something go in there that would 1)be agreeable to the atmosphere of the community and 2) not go out of business soon like Upton's did.
I would like to see more interest generated in the idea of an inn--an idea that has been kicking around for awhile and which everyone seems to like, but which doesn't get off the ground. There was supposed to be an inn or bed and breakfast included in the Kentlands plan.
It would be very nice to have a place for over-flow guests when Kentlands residents have something like a wedding when there are a number of people from out of town visiting. There are going to be many occasions when people need extra room for family and want something more homelike than the Hilton or Courtyard, and a nice inn or bed and breakfast would certainly get a great deal of business in this area. I feel that as the community matures, there will be more and more need for something like this.
-- Marion Perry (MHPerry@WordWorthWeb.com), June 25, 2001.
Marion, there are 240 units listed at Beacon Place. I just got back from city hall with all the unit count numbers. The city has four Dwelling types, and under that they have sub categories.
Kentlands Single Family unit total: 520, Lakelands Single Family unit total: 428, Total Kentlands and Lakelands Single Family units: 948,
Kentlands Townhouses unit total: 381, Lakelands Townhouses unit total: 423, Total Kentlands and Lakelands Townhouse units: 804,
*Kentlands Multi Family unit total: 877, **Lakelands Multi Family unit total: 621, *Total Kentlands and Lakelands Multi Family units: 1498,
Other Kentlands and Lakelands unit total: 275
Total Kentlands and Lakelands units: 3525 Single Family units: 26.9%, Townhouses unit: 22.8%, Multi Family units: 42.5%, Other units: 7.8%,
*Multi Family units make up, *Kentlands Condo units: 425, *Kentlands Rentals units: 452, *Lakelands Condo units: City has not broken this number up on the Dwelling report, *Lakelands Apartments units: City has not broken this number up on the Dwelling report,
**Of this 621 number it includes 159 units of Great Seneca North (Lakelands). These numbers are the total units. Some areas builders have not completed building. These numbers are from the City of Gaithersburg, Dwelling Units and Estimated Population, January 2000
-- Bill Edens (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 25, 2001.
If you add 400 more Multi Family units to the mix, Multi Family units would go over 48% !!!!!
-- Bill Edens (email@example.com), June 25, 2001.
I have read with interest the City of Gaithersburg Housing Policy and have a couple of questions to help me understand its impact on our proposal.
It seems pretty clear that the policy is intended specifically to discourage "multi-family" housing units in any location, and I am curious what drives that. Does it stem from the perception that multi- family housing requires more city services (fire and police protection, schools, etc.) than other forms of housing? Has that been the City's experience with the older apartments built to the east of I-270? What has the City's experience been with newer luxury apartments of the type we are proposing? Are there other reasons why luxury apartments would be considered undesirable at the intersection of Booth Street and Quince Orchard Road? In some ways it seems the ideal location, since the residences would generate so much less automobile traffic than retail or office uses, and since the new employees of MedImmune could actually walk to work from their new apartments; that's what I would call "smart urban design principles and the tenants of the new urbanism to bring high quality housing to Gaithersburg" (City of Gaithersburg Housing Policy). Finally, what is considered the "ideal" percentage of multi-family to other housing types - apparently 42.5% is acceptable but 48% is not?
As to the site itself, we very much hope to have a plan available for presentation to all Kentlands residents within the next four weeks. We are taking a lot of time on this to incorporate all the great suggestions we have received so far, and we hope everyone will feel it was worth the wait.
-- Andy Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 26, 2001.
I'm no politician, but I am rather close to one and have some appreciation for the councils' reasons for enacting the housing policy. I am sure that if and when you submit your plan and present it to the council you will learn very quickly what their motivations and rationale for the policy are. And, yes I do believe they will think there is a difference between 42% and 48% since one of the stated objectives of the policy is to limit the number of multi- family homes in the City. I don't think the concept of luxury or non- luxury multi-family units is a factor. I am sure back in the 60s and 70s when so many apartments were built in Gaithersburg they were considered luxury for the time. As I have heard at least one council member say, at some point we have to say enough is enough!
-- Bill Edens (email@example.com), June 26, 2001.
I am a current resident of Lakelands, having previously resided in Kentlands since 1994, and been involved in the planning of Kentlands, Lakelands and the entire City since 1985. I have read the extensive historical background material that Mr. Brown's team prepared on the Uptons site. It is important to note that the Gaithersburg Planning staff and Planning Commission at the time of original SDP approval, both recommended against the Uptons/Boston Market plan for various reasons. However, the plan was approved by the Mayor and City Council and moved forward through the process to construction and occupancy. This was the second major retailing mistake made in Kentlands, the first being the regional mall proposed by Joe Alfandre in the original plan for Kentlands.
This site would be ideal for a multifamily development with possible first floor commercial uses similar to the one built by the Magruder Companies in Olde Towne under the new housing policy. That plan includes 4 floors of apartments above first floor office/retail, connected to a parking garage. Under the new housing policy, that plan was approved using the "public interest" clause because the site was close to public transportation and would help revitalize Olde Towne.
In this case, there is also existing and planned public transportation, in the form of an underutilized bus system that connects directly to the Shady Grove Metro, and a future light rail station nearby. The housing policy states: "Where transit and public transportation opportunities will be utilized, allow higher density. Transportation infrastructure must be in place or completely funded prior to construction. The site also clearly meets the intent of the MXD Zone in that housing is placed within close proximity to retail services to lessen the dependance on the automobile, which in this case is quite obvious. In addition, this site is in need of revitalization as much as Olde Towne is in need of a shot in the arm. However, in this case we have a growing "economic eyesore" that will only get worse the longer it sits vacant and begins to deteriorate. My guess is that it will be a long time before office space would ever get built there. Office developers are either very small, like Long and Foster, and are looking for small sites to build their own building (currently under construction on Kentlands Blvd.), or are very large, like Medimune, who are looking for big campus sites (on Great Seneca Hwy.). This site fits neither scenario and would sit vacant for years as other nearby office property develops first.
Therefore, it seems obvious to me that the "public interest" clause of the housing policy is a perfect fit for this particular site if it were to have upscale multifamily units, along with limited first floor commercial uses, thereby improving the streetscape along Booth Street and meeting the goals of the MXD Zone.
-- Clark Wagner (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 27, 2001.
Clark, I forgot whom do you work for now?
-- Bill Edens (email@example.com), June 27, 2001.
I seriously question the location of Great Seneca and Route 124 to be a good place for density as contemplated in the City housing policy's "public interest" criteria. First, the light rail station is still in the early stages of planning - and that may take years and years to complete, and could be abandoned during that time. The light rail, if built, would be across Great Seneca - not just a block away as the MARC station is in downtown. It would be more likely the 700 or so residents would use the convenient access to Great Seneca Highwy to add to the rush hour volume.
As to the bus line, its underutilization can indicate why it would not mitigate any traffic impact. The roads in the immediate area are not so cluttered that a bus would make the trip shorter. Secondly, not all job centers are served by Metrorail and bus routes.
-- David L. Friend (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 27, 2001.
It seems to me that perhaps one of the solutions to this problem would be to "cut the baby in half." Why doesn't the creative team in Mike Watkins' office come up with a mixed plan of some "luxury" apartments, townhouses and single family cottages instead of an all or nothing approach. After all, I think one of the greatest distinctions between Kentlands and Lakelands is the fact that you have a greater diversity of housing types mixed together, rather than segregated as it appears throughout Lakelands. I think another apartment complex surrounding this corner of Kentlands would also send a "Fort Apache" message, an unnatural blockade of apartments surrounding the single family homes. Kentlands' diversity of housing is unique and should be preserved if the corner of Great Seneca is to be developed beyond just another block of apartments!
-- Lloyd S. Kaufman (email@example.com), June 27, 2001.
Lloyd, Do the numbers, 400 units times $2000.00 per month equal $800,000.00 per month or $9,600,000.00 per year. If you could sell this would you compromise?
-- Bill Edens (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 27, 2001.
Recently, the Washington Post carried a story in their real estate section on two families who had relocated to the D.C. area. One had bought a house in Frederick and the other in Bethesda. But both families had first rented an apartment in Gaithersburg.
Gaithersburg is already a great place to rent an apartment. I would like to see Gaithersburg more of a great place to buy a home. Building more apartments doesn't seem to me to be the way to get there.
There was also a recent article in the Post on the increase in home ownership rates in the District in the last decade, and how that was a key element of the improving economic health of the city. I believe that increasing the level of home ownership is as important to Gaithersburg as it is to any urban area. Again, 400 apartments (even luxury apartments overlooking two major highways and the back of a grocery store) don't take us in the right direction.
I personally like the hotel and office ideas that David Friend mentioned. It's hard to believe that the only choices for office projects are single buildings like L&F or big complexes like MedImune. (I'm sure that I'll see something in between those extremes the next time I'm out driving. Maybe like the medical suites on Quince Orchard Road across from Kentlands.)
As for traffic, once good uses have been defined, it becomes a question of the quality of design. Traffic numbers without a design are just scare tactics. I'm sure that a bad design, for instance, could make traffic from a public park a far greater burden for Booth Street residents than Upton's ever was. And a good design can make an office/hotel complex a very friendly neighbor.
-- Ted Hopp (email@example.com), June 27, 2001.
I see Clark is not going to answer my question "whom do you work for." Clark correct me if I'm wrong, you work for Bozzuto or one of their subsidiaries, the largest multi family builder in Kentlands. In fact Bozzuto just tried to rezone the property behind Buca di Beppo restaurant from 16 office condo units to 40 residential condos. Clark weren't you on the city planning staff when they (city planning staff) recommended office condos to the Mayor and Council? I think the city told Buzzuto and Jeff Cambell to bring back something from a park to 16 units. I understand Bozzuto is reserving 30 units now. I like a park myself.
-- Bill Edens (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 28, 2001.
I would like to address Clarks Wagner's statement "It is important to note that the Gaithersburg Planning staff and Planning Commission at the time of original SDP approval, both recommended against the Uptons/Boston Market plan for various reasons." After doing some homework at city hall with the help of planning staff I was able to obtain the minutes of the City Planning Commission May 18th, 1994 meeting of which, SDP-6K – Great Seneca Development Corp was on the agenda. Clark you got it right but the reason it was denied was because of the restaurant sites at the corner of Great Seneca Hwy and Quince Orchard Road, not because the Upton site. In fact the record goes on to report that "parcels I and J should be anchored with a landmark Building which would distinguish it as the entrance to Gaithersburg and Kentlands." I would hope we would not be distinguishing Gaithersburg and Kentlands with a 400-unit apartment house.
-- Bill Edens (email@example.com), June 30, 2001.
I'm pleased to see one of the potential developers (Andy Brown) contributing to this discussion. It's great to know that you're showing an interest in what the residents have to say. Keep in mind, though, that this forum is an extremely limited sample. It's probably clear to you that a small number of people have posted multiple messages - but fortunately there has been some diversity as well.
Everyone I've spoken to on my street (Little Quarry) - still a limited sample - is very anxious to see that empty Upton's site get filled by something decent. Your proposal for apartments strikes me and my neighbors as a fine idea.
I see that Bill Edens continues to oppose every suggestion made here, firing off lots of questions to other posters. Opposition to development is going to leave the empty eyesore there for a long time, which in turn discourages other developers. I would prefer to hear constructive suggestions from people if they have complaints. The idea of a hotel or inn is a good example - but without a developer stepping forward to pay for it, I'm afraid this is just a fantasy. The high-end apartment proposal is very real, and it's the best thing I've heard yet for this site. The upcoming MedImmune headquarters will no doubt provide many immediate tenants for this complex who can walk to work, exactly what Kentlands is all about. I don't think these development decisions are made by a vote, but my vote is a resounding yes!
-- Steven Salzberg (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 30, 2001.
Steve, the only thing I have opposed is 400 apartments or any more multi family development. I encourage you to work for the developers and support them in their efforts. Steve, have your neighbors and friends come on this site and support you. I also always encourage opposing views.
-- Bill Edens (email@example.com), July 01, 2001.
Thanks to Clark Wagner for his contribution to this discussion. He provides some relevant history and proposes a rationale that would allow the City--a strong backer of Smart Growth--to support such a project, despite its concern about too much multi-family housing in Gaithersburg. I also hope that my old buddy Bill Edens restrains some of his comments and does not get too personal--it's irrelevant to bring up who Clark Wagner currenty works for.
What attracts me to this project at this early stage is that Mike Watkins is involved. Mike was making contributions to this community long before the first residents moved in back in 1991. He was a big part of the first charette that got Kentlands started and that inspired so much positive coverage in the press. I am intrigued by his comment in the Town Crier that these units will be "more of an urban scale," and his statement that the developers are committed to a high quality project that will bring some life to Booth Street. Mike brings a credibility to this project that should at least make people take the time to give it fair consideration.
Some other observations: the community will definitely benefit from the small park on Citizens Assembly land that the developer says he will commit to designing and financing.
As for a hotel, I too would like to see one in Kentlands eventually, but the reality right now is that hotel companies are not doing so well. Occupancy is down; my friend who works for Marriott says that the Lodging Division is laying off people at headquarters. So I wonder who would invest in a hotel in the current market.
As for office space, what about the spaces in all the live/work units coming on line, and the proposed office building next to the ice rink in Market Square? It seems like both of these projects are already addressing the need for more office space, and at a location much more accessible to the eating places in Market Square.
In any case, let's look forward to more details from the developer as we continue this discussion.
-- Bob Mauri (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 01, 2001.
Bob, a lot of people don't know who the players are. If Clark would have said up front I now work for the Bozzuto Group (a large builder of multi family homes) everyone would have realized he no longer is just your everyday citizen. As far as Mike Watkins is concerned, he has joined the developer's team, don't loose sight of that. In fact maybe some one can answer this question? If Mike has joined the developer's team and he is the town architect (I don't think we pay him), but the city will want an approval from the town architect to move ahead. Is his fiduciary responsibility, with the assembly or with the developer? As for getting to personal Steven Salzberg, comment "Bill Edens continues to oppose every suggestion made here" is false! I have not opposed any thing but a 400-unit apartment house. I also look forward to more details from the developer as we continue this discussion.
-- Bill Edens (email@example.com), July 01, 2001.
In response to the original question, no we do not need any more density in Kentlands. We and the rest of Gaithersburg have plenty of apartments. I have been "lurking" on this website and keeping my mouth (typing fingers) quiet. I can no longer do that. I personally do not want any more apartments, upscale or otherwise, in the city of Gaithersburg. Ah, I feel better now!
-- Lauren Paiva (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 01, 2001.
I have just a few points I think are worth sharing, and I will be very candid on each of them:
1) I do not want any more apartments built because they will lower the value of my home. It's just that simple. When you take a neighborhood and increase the number of apartments vs. single family homes, the value of the single family homes goes down. Anyone with 5 minutes in real estate 101 will recognize that as a simple truth.
2) I do not want apartments because I know, for an absolute fact, that if the current plan to build apartments on the Upton site is rejected by the city, at least one group is waiting in the wings to turn it into an office building. However, this group has no chance of acquiring the site as long as there is the possibility of the city allowing a conversion to apartments. On the other hand, if the city rejects the apartment complex, as opposed to two years of planning hearings and dirt moving required for apartments, the office conversion would be completed closer to 90 days after the deal is done.
As a side note, I don't want to belabor the point, but it is important that we all know if someone standing up and purporting to be an "objective expert" is on the developer's payroll. It goes directly to the motivation and legitmacy of the so called "expert opinion" being rendered. With that said, I will openly admit that in addition to being a Kentlands resident, I am a businessman with a local software company that wants to keep his offices in Gaithersburg. Therefore, I must come clean about having a "very vested interest" in this from the city-side (my taxes would be negatively impacted by an apartment complex), the Kentlands-side (my house's value would drop with an apartment complex) and my personal business-side (my company benefits from Gaithersburg building a stronger jobs/business base).
In any event, I hope the city puts the apartment option to rest quickly, so we can move forward with a re-use of the Upton's building that financially benefits the City, Kentlands residents and me.
Sincerely, Joe Paiva Beckwith Street
-- Joe Paiva (email@example.com), July 01, 2001.
Joe, Thank you for your contribution regarding the proposal to build "luxury aparments" on the Upton site. I agree with all of your points and wonder why, if we call ourselves an "urban" development, why we do not have more support for commercial space. With increased office buildings we would have more midday traffic to support the live-work units and the empty stores built by Mr. Beatty. Instead, now all we can support are hair salons and real estate offices. Hardly what one would call upscale retail. Lets pitch in as residents, developers and planners and try to encourage further commercial office development at a corner that has high traffic exposure and should be a landmark for our community. Not another nondescript apartment complex!
-- Lloyd S. Kaufman (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 01, 2001.
I am very pleased to see many people posting to this discussion. The more input we receive, the better we can make all of our concerns known.
Joe, as to the prospect of an office conversion for the Upton's building, I would suggest that the proponents come to the community with more detail. The community should know there are other businesses interested in the site other than the scare tactic of a self-storage firm. Please do not wait until the City decides one way or another on the apartments, otherwise there may be a rush, as we have seen on this site, to take the apartments as a lesser of the evils - apartments v. empty retail spaces. You should know that you need a good PR strategy to make your alternatives known, or we may all regret that other alternatives were not pursued.
As to the issue of a park, it should be noted that this is not additional space given to the community. The space proposed for a park is already greenspace behind Upton's and, given the layout of the site, could not be easily converted into another use. An agreement to put benches in a greenspace should not be a sufficient inducement to encourage the community to approve a use which may not be in its interest.
Thanks to all who have posted, I look forward to more postings as this process continues. I also notice that the email reminders do not include the name of the person who has posted, so I will add it to the body of this message and encourage others to do the same.
-David L. Friend
-- David L. Friend (email@example.com), July 02, 2001.
I would like to weigh in on two recent points about our proposal to build luxury apartments on the old Upton's site:
First, although Mike Watkins is perfectly able to answer his critics himself, one of the recent comments in this forum deserves a response. When my partner, Lowell Baier and I conceived the idea of luxury residential on the vacant Uptons, one of our first stops was to the town architect to air the idea. Mike listened carefully, thought about the idea for several days, then called us back to discuss how our proposal might benfit the community that Mike calls home. He talked about enlivening Booth Street and creating more of a residential feel there; he showed us pictures of the detailed architecture he loved from grand and elegant apartment buildings in Cleveland Park, Back Bay, and South Beach; and he asked us to think about what specific improvements we could make to that section of Kentlands, like some street level retail shops tucked into our building, public art, and beautification of sections of Booth Street that don't even abut our property. Finally, he said that rather than simply reviewing the architecture of others and fighting with them to adopt the Kentlands Town Planning Principals (which is his usual role as the Kentlands Town Architect), he thought that he could best insure the quality of the end project by designing himself the elevation or skin of the building. Mike Watkins is the last architect I can imagine who needs more work - he has projects from Atlanta to Bosnia, and I doubt that Mike would describe himself as being "on the developer's payroll". Everyone I have talked to about this project, to a person, has felt that Mike's involvement in the Kentlands since its inception in the late 80's has made it a truly wonderful place to live; his involvement in this project, however it turns out, will undoubtedly do the same thing.
Second, some of you have raised the question of whether we might build office space on the Upton's site. To get some perpective on the viability of office use there, Lowell talked recently with Bob Knopff, the development manager at Quadrangle responsible for Quince Orchard Park, the office park directly across Great Seneca Highway from the Uptons. Bob has been working on this project for over 15 years. Here's what he had to say: Quince Orchard Park was conceived in 1984 with 210 acres for office development. The first 100,000 square foot building was built in 1986. Since that first building, three additional buildings of about 150,000 square feet have been built. So in 17 years, only 250,000 square feet have been built. Bob said that demand for his office project has been so weak that Quadrangle had 60 of their 210 acres rezoned to allow residential use. He said that MedImmune is purchasing 21 acres; they will build 225,000 square feet at first, but have enough land to build 750,000 square feet ultimately (this is equivalent to over twelve Uptons buildings). Even after this sale, Quince Orchard Park will still have 40 acres left for office development. That will allow 1.5 Million square feet of office buildings if built at the same scale as MedImmune. For comparison, that is equal to twenty-five Uptons buildings. Now if it took 17 years to build and lease 250,000 square feet, you can imagine how long it will take to build and lease six times that much space. In short, between the 21 acres for MedImmune and the 40 acres for future development, there is enough land directly across Great Seneca Highway for 2.25 million feet of office buildings, or thirty-seven (37) Uptons buildings. Bob listed a number of reasons why this site is unattractive for office use, and I'm happy to share those if anyone is interested, but the numbers really speak for themselves.
-- Andy Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 03, 2001.
I can understand how folks might object to this proposed complex because they don't like apartments, or more density, or feel that a office use is better for the community. But Joe says that more apartments will lower the value of our homes. Now, I've lived in Kentlands for almost 10 years, and based on what I've observed during that period, I'd have a hard time agreeing with him.
I would therefore be appreciative if he could provide for this group some basis or empirical evidence for his statement.
-- Bob Mauri (email@example.com), July 03, 2001.
I would just like to throw in the observation that one of my favorite places in the region is the stretch of Connecticut Avenue near the National Zoo, lined with one lovely apartment building after another. Every time I drive down there I feel a thrill. A project that is well built and good looking can improve the area. I like the density. And I dread having that spot empty much longer. A hotel would be a wonderful alternative but it sounds like isn't likely to happen soon. Elly Shaw-Belblidia
-- Elly Shaw-Belblidia (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 03, 2001.
I am a busy person, and quite frankly do not have a lot of time to spend sitting on a computer trying to write politically correct and reasonable answers to questions the vast majority of people already know the answers for. However, since you have asked a very pointed question, I will ask my real estate folks to gather the appropriate statistics (assuming the relevant data is readily available).
The reality is, however, that all you really need to do is read The Washington Post weekend real estate sections with average home prices by zip code, pick a few suburban zip codes a similar distance out from downtown, and compare it to what you already know about the average income and percentage of apartments in each of those areas.
In the interim, "Appraising the Single Family Residence", a text book published by the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers, makes for decent reading. The book describes 4 major "Neighborhood Analysis" factors "influencing value": "Social, Environmental, Governemntal and Economic". In the sections describing "Economic Analysis" of a neighborhood, the book highlights, among others, two points of particular interest. "Economic Profile of Residents" and "Use of Nearby Lots". While the book is as politically correct as possible in how it describes these points, the authors could not get around their primary analyses... 1) The value of a home is directly related to the wealth, income levels and stability (read "longevity") of the residences in surrounding homes. 2) The value of a home is directly related to the types of homes surrounding it.
At the risk of being non-politically correct, I am willing to go on record as saying that many, if not most, apartment residents tend to be renting their apartments instead of purchasing a home for one of two reasons: Either they do not desire to be "tied down long-term" or they simply can not afford to purchase a home. In either or both cases, the result is the same: By building 400 apartments, we will change the demographic profile of the Kentlands community. That change will include an increased percentage of both short-term residents and decrease in the average income/wealth of the communities residents. According to the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers, both of these things will reduce the value of existing homes in the neighborhood.
Again, at the risk of being politically incorrect, I would suggest you ask yourself questions like: Why did Natelli place townhomes around all the apartments and build the single family units on the other side of the virtual blockade created by the townhomes and condos? Why are the single family homes in Lakelands that are furthest from the apartments the most expensive? Why are houses in Old Farm more expensive than equivalent homes closer to Ridgepoint and the Buzzuto Apartments?
I am sorry if people find this line of reasoning offensive, however, I am a pragmatic business person. It doesn't matter what you live in now, townhome, condo, small single family or large, all of our property values will go down if 400 apartments are placed on the old Upton's building site, because it will lower the whole value of the Kentlands as a neighborhood.
Having first said I did not have the time to argue by email, and then having written a response anyway, I will offer this... if anyone really wants to talk like reasonable, intelligent people about options for development and potential impacts, I would be very happy to sneak out of work and join any one of you for lunch in Midtown, or even invite you to my office for a 'whiteboard discussion'. However, I really do not want to waste a lot of time going round and round by email arguing about very superficial and simplistic things like property values.
The real issue here is what is the best use for the land from the much broader perspective of creating a viable economic base for the entire Kentlands area. That discussion must include employment patterns, development patterns and how rezoning influences land-owner sales by changing potential land values, impacts that different types of development have on the tax base for the City of Gaithersburg, etc. If we are not careful, Montgomery County planners will make Northern Montgomery county the only place in the area where any trees are left, Southern Montgomery county the only place with a business- base that generates more taxes than it requires in services, and stick everyone in the middle (i.e. Gaitherburg) with a bunch of apartments that cost the city more to service than they generate in tax revenues. If that happens, Kentlands residents will be hosed no matter what happens within our hallowed little corner of the city.
JP and LKP
-- Joe Paiva (email@example.com), July 04, 2001.
My Old Friend Bob,
"I can understand how folks might object to this proposed complex because they don't like apartments, or more density,"—Bob, July 3, 2001
It's time for you to do some home work, ("I can understand"). Why don't you spend some time with the city manager and ask him what are the cost of services in the City of Gaithersburg and if apartments provide the kind of tax base that serves the city well. Maybe he can give you some explanations about the city housing policy re: apartments. We await your findings. Bob we just don't live in Kentlands, we live in the City of Gaithersburg.
I remain your good friend, Bill.
-- Bill Edens (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 05, 2001.
There is a severe lack of imagination in Gaithersburg if all we do is shoehorn 410 apartments into the old Upton's site. If apartments are needed to help the Kentlands retail then the city should be planning to put more of them into Quince Orchard Park and behind the Kentlands Market Square post office. However, what we do with the Upton's site involves more than Market Square retail.
I can envison a high school satellite or magnet campus on the site. According to the MCPS web site FY2001-FY2006 Master Plan data, Gaithersburg HS is 136 students over capacity and will stay overcrowded until 2010. Northwest HS is 53 students over capacity. Watkins Mill HS is 88 over and getting worse. A neighborhood high school of 200-250 students on the Upton's site would relieve the overcrowding at the high schools. We don't need to make every school a mega-monster school. Operating as a part of Quince Orchard HS the students would be able to participate in the main campus activities. A developer for the Parklands has suggested that they might be willing to build more classrooms at Northwest. Why not have them help convert the Upton's building instead?
The main problem may be a "can't do that" attitude. But if MCPS can't find a way to do it, what about charter schools or non-government schools?
We don't need to limit ourselves to schools. Another vision could put a business incubator on the site. Last year while working on a business plan for an information technology startup, I found out that the Montgomery County incubator is full. Can the city or the county help put a second incubator at the site?
What other visions are there: Data center, disaster recovery hot site, or recreational center? It's not surprising that developers think "Apartments Rule!" We need to help them to improve their thinking.
-- Rick Marvin (email@example.com), July 05, 2001.
While there may be problems with office space, there are also problems with apartment units. I think one theme we can discern from the postings so far is that the community would like to see a broad range of options at the site, not just one proposal for 350-400 aparments on the site. The options may include some aparments, but the scale of the apartment development, bigger than anything already in Kentlands or Lakelands, should give proponents pause.
Comparing the proposed development to apartments on Connecticut Ave is misleading. Those apartments are within walking distance to innumberable existing Metro stops, and have taken decades to develop into the lovely community they are now.
To hope that people from MedImmune would live in the apartments is misguided. The reasons people use to choose where to live cannot be reduced to just the proximity to work. While some will want to live near by, others will not, or won't want to rent, no matter how luxurious the apartment.
I really would like to see the developer show more creativity in the use of the site. What about mixing the uses of the space? I have heard some talk of small retail establishments in the 1st floor of the apartments. We already have small retail space in Market Square that is not leasing - why would additional small retail capacity work any better? Also, whenever the retail is mentioned, no mention is made as to the reduction in the number of aparment units.
-- David L. Friend (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 05, 2001.
Some reasons why small retail would work better than in Market Place are 1. They would be close to, and facing a heavily traveled road, 2. They would have easier access to the stores, 3. They would have dedicated parking in front of the stores.
I'm presuming that we would get something like a strip mall but with hundreds of apartments built above them. The reason developers build strip malls is that it's easier to make them work.
The other answers David has provided seem to be right on the spot. Besides, we'd be more likely to get 'big box' apartments like the ones on the bluff than anything resembling Conneticut Ave. apartments.
Bill, there is one service that apartments demand much more than houses, condos, or retail. That's police service. The last time I checked the Beacon Square apartments were the biggest generator in Kentlands for calls for the police.
There seems to be a fatalistic attitude in many of the responses to this thread, that the only alternatives are apartments or nothing. That's a false choice. In today's (6 July) Montgomery Gazette Business there is an article about the county's desire to build a second incubator for high tech startups. It says that there is an 18 month waiting list for the current hightech/biotech incubator. The county is looking at the east county area for a high tech only incubator. Has the developer talked to the county about turning the site into a biotech only incubator?
David is right, we need more creativity in the use of the site.
-- Rick Marvin (RickMarvin@aol.com), July 07, 2001.
The Beacon Square apartments are pretty upscale, so it's fascinating that they are generating proportionately more police calls than the rest of Kentlands.
One thing about luxury apartments is that if there aren't enough lessees, they can become non-luxury very quickly. If new luxury apartments come in and make it difficult to fill the Beacon Square units, those units will become a problem.
Is there anyone else on this web board who has been in Gaithersburg long enough to remember the Lee Street apartments early on?
-- Marion Perry (MHPerry@WordWorthWeb.com), July 07, 2001.
I've had several meetings with the developers, Mike Watkins, and a few residents of Copperfield Crossing I.
I'm in favor of residential development on this site for a number of reasons. It would improve the looks of Booth St. from Quince Orchard Road down to Kentlands Boulevard. I believe residential units, whether they are apartments, condos, or town houses would set the appropriate tone at that entrance of the Kentlands: residential units would prevent any unwelcome commercial development and, hopefully, cut down on truck traffic. A few small businesses, tucked in among residential development could be a really good ice cream parlor, a bike rental/sales store, perhaps an out of town newstand. The triangle of KCA-owned land could feature some sculpture, a flower garden, perhaps a fountain, thus creating a really pleasant recreational dimension to Booth Street, one that would encourage pedestrian, rather than car traffic.
I like the idea of a bed and breakfast in Kentlands, but I think another site would be better than this one. With the advent of the new research company in Quince Orchard Park along Great Seneca opposite the Kentlands, residential development at the Upton's site might attract many employees who could walk to work or use a company- provided shuttle. An overhead walkway over Great Seneca would almost be a necessity. The developers have planned a clubhouse and a pool for their residents' use to avoid overburdening Kentlands' facilities.
-- Nora H. Caplan (email@example.com), July 08, 2001.
I love the idea of a magnet school. It would not need to be a "full service school." The magnet could share use of Quince Orchard's cafeteria, gymnasium, music department, etc.
-- Lauren Paiva (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 09, 2001.
I was not surpised to see that there were no responses to Bob Mauri's request for empirical evidence that upscale apartments lower the value of other homes within a community - actually there were several responses, but not one of the responses provided the empirical evidence Joe requested. The reason is that the empirical evidence proves just the opposite.
In November, 2000, Delta Associates (a real estate research firm located in Alexandria employing members of the Amercian Institute of Real Estate Appraisers) conducted a research study to measure the impact of Class A apartments (exactly what is proposed on the Upton's site) on the value of adjacent townhouses. Specifically, Delta identified all Class A apartment projects in Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax County which were: 1) not more than 4 stories high; 2) operating since 1996; and 3) immediately adjacent to subdivisions of townhouses. Three projects met these criteria: Regent's Park in Vienna; Summit at Fair Lakes in Fairfax; and Harbour Park in Reston. Using tax maps, the addresses of all townhouses either adjacent to or proximate to each of the apartment projects were identified, yielding between 100 to 200 townhouses for each of the apartment projects. County tax records were then researched for the change in the assessed value of each townhouse from 1996 to 2000. A control group was then created by randomly selecting 12 townhouses from each of Fairfax County's 9 supervisor districts (108 townhouses in total), and then researching the same changes in assessed value from 1996 to 2000.
The results: --Property values for the control group of townhouses increased 1.1% --Property values for townhouses adjacent to or proximate to Class A apartments increased from 2.4% to 8.0%
The study's conclusion, and I quote: "The introduction of a Class A apartment property into a community does not have an adverse impact on property values of adjacent townhomes. In fact, the evidence suggests that a Class A apartment property may improve the value of adjacent townhouse properties."
This is not at all surprising when you consider that the building we propose will be elegantly designed of natural materials; will be extensively landscaped with pocket parks and public amenities (sculpture, fountain, etc.), will greatly improve the look of Booth Street with a small amount of streetfront retail, and unlike virtually any building in Kentlands, will have its parking hidden from view.
If one of the keepers of this site will tell me how, I would be happy to post a copy of the research report on site, including the Appendix setting forth in detail the assesment changes for each of the hundreds of townhouses researched.
Bob, your instincts were right all along.
-- Andy Brown (email@example.com), July 13, 2001.
In regards to the cited study, I would point out why that particular study may be an inappropriate comparison to the Upton's site. First, Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax counties are not necessarily similar to Gaithersburg. Second, the subdivisions reviewed were of townhouses, and not single family or even mixed used developments.
I would be interested to know if the townhomes reviewed that contributed to higher property values were in areas of high appreciation of value for all homes, not just those next to "upscale" apartment units. If there is an apprciable increase in one area, it may offset negligible or negative effects in other areas.
I would also note that just three projects were listed in the study, and individual characteristics of just those three may not be equivalent to the situation here.
I've also seen discussions of having a walkway connect one side of Great Seneca to the other, in order to allow employees at MedImmune or another business in Quince Orchard Park, live in the apartment units proposed. Is the developer willing to assit in the funding of this walkway for the purpose of assisting their future residents to cross an increasingly dangerous road to get to work?
Unfortunately, I think there are many issues involved in this project that one small study of property values in booming NoVa cannot answer.
-David L. Friend
-- David L. Friend (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 13, 2001.
Can anyone provide an update on the status of this (or other) proposal (s)? Per the June 20 posting by Jennifer Russel, Director Planning and Code Administration - City of Gaithersburg, there were no submissions as of that date. Has anything changed since then? Is this matter on the agenda of any upcoming City meetings?
-- Brian Grant (email@example.com), July 16, 2001.
I talked to Tony Tomasello last week about the site. Tony had no notice of any submission at that time, nor did he know if the developer was now the owner, a contract buyer, or just floating a test balloon. It was also unclear what properties were involved; just the Upton's site or both Upton's and Boston Market.
-- Rick Marvin (RickMarvin@aol.com), July 16, 2001.
Andy Brown e-mailed me and asked about sending the study by post since he hasn't a scanner. At that point, I mentioned to him what I neglected through oversight to mention on my posting that before I post it, I have to have permission from the copyright holder. Andy Brown has been in correspondence with the office from which the study has come asking for permission to post it at Word Worth. I presume that as soon as he gets that, he will mail it to me, and I will post it.
I will also post any other relevant information, provided that it doesn't run into too many pages [but the sender will have to obtain permission and send a copy along]. Joe Paiva's information is about as empirical as one is likely to get, so I'd be glad to post that, or portions of it, but since it's in a published book, permission may not be forthcoming.
-- Marion Perry (MHPerry@WordWorthWeb.com), July 25, 2001.
This is a most interesting discussion. Having not contributed for a long while, I am happy to see such a lively debate. I'd like to ad my two cents, but I need more information. Could someone please expand on the hotel idea? I'm not sure I understand what the problem is. In the meantime, I don't think another apartment complex, at any scale, is the right answer.
-- Robin Caldwell (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 26, 2001.
The hotel idea is a great one. I agree that a hotel could be a good fit there. Probably less tax revenue for the city, less amenities for the community, but a good fit.
To get it financed and built you are going to need at least a $25-$30 million construction loan (for a 200 room mid-level brand). Think you will qualify for a construction loan? Do you have at least 10% cash to put down?
I wonder if the local Gaithersburg banks will lend you that kind of money given the hotel markets regionally and nationally are in a downturn and you have no hotel construction building experience -- not likely.
Ultimately, it goes back to the waiting game issue. No viable hotel proposals have been proposed to my knowledge. There is a viable residential proposal on the table right now which could fit in effectively with the neighborhood, add a significant amount of money to the city's pockets, improve the existing retail in Kentlands, and add some amenities to the neighborhood.
There are no other viable proposals on the table right now. The waiting game is usually a long one and what usually ends up happening is you grab in desparation (sp?) near the end of the game and you end up with a bad proposal -- Kmart, Dress Barn, Upton's.
-- Austin Decker (email@example.com), July 26, 2001.
Office is the only option in your opinion?
Should a hotel be considered if such a proposal surfaces?
The upscale apartment proposal is the only one on the table right now. Are you aware of any others?
-- Austin Decker (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 26, 2001.
Austin, If you have followed this debate the only use I have ever opposed is a 400-unit apartment house. As for an upscale apartment house on the table, I will hope there will be enough citizens' opposition to kill it at city hall or before. A hotel would be great. Many citizens have had some terrific ideas, other citizens, many still my friends will support the developer, and that's ok, because after it is over most of us will remain friends (win, lose, or draw). A good debate makes a strong community. We have a real strong community in Gaithersburg. At the moment I know of no other proposals.
-- Bill Edens (email@example.com), July 26, 2001.
Hey Guys, Now that a few of us in Gaithersburg and more specifically the Kentlands have weighed in about what to do with the Uptons' site on this web site, what about the rest of our neighbors? I would sure like to see some articles and discussions in other more public fora making more citizens aware of the debate and increasing the visibility on this issue. Also when does the city expect this issue to come up for discussion? Why don't we have some meetings among ourselves without the "developers" to discuss a community strategy. I would like to see us (Kentland and Lakelands) go before the City Council with a unified position regarding what we would like to see and what we would not like to see on the corner of the Uptons site. Let's start to get organized and prepare to do battle! Bill, as a concerned citizen, property owner and businessperson you should not have to stand alone on this issue. Regards to All
-- Lloyd S. Kaufman (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 27, 2001.
I wanted to let everyone know that yesterday we filed an application to Amend the Schematic Development Plan for the Upton's site to allow 350 luxury apartment units and about 3,000 square feet of streetfront retail space on the ground floor. 3,000 sf of retail space is roughly 2 stores, each about the size of a Starbucks. The retail will front on Booth Street and will open onto the triangular "park" owned by the K.C.A. which we are offering to improve with hardscape (brick pavers, planters, etc.), landscaping, outdoor furniture, and a fountain or other amenity. The application contains a site plan and architectural elevations which we plan to present at additional informational meetings; in the meantime, I believe that the application may be viewed at City Hall. We are very proud of the design that Mike Watkins has created and think you will be as well.
Some time ago on this discussion board I asked for some background on the creation of the City's housing policy and whether the City had had negative experiences with the type of luxury housing that we are proposing here. The response I received stated that once we submitted our plan we would find out what the City Council's rationale for the policy was, but no specific objections to luxury apartments were given. So the question remains unanswered, what exactly is wrong with a use that: 1) Beautifies Booth Street and eliminates the eyesore of the vacant Upton's; 2) Generates much, much less traffic than either retail or office use; 3) Is an economic win for both the City and the County in that it generates a fiscal surplus of $1,075,000 in revenues over expenses each year (this figure came from the suggestion on the Blackboard "Why don't you spend some time with the city manager and ask him and what are the cost of services in the City of Gaithersburg and if apartments is the kind of tax base that serves the city well"); 4) Is a model of New Urbanism and Smart Growth (striking architecture by Duany Plater-Zyberk, the creator of New Urbanism; hidden parking; walkability to retail and other services; proximity to public transportation, etc.); and 5) Will attract well-educated, affluent professionals and empty-nesters - exactly the type of people who are your neighbors now.
-- Andy Brown (email@example.com), August 01, 2001.
I think Mr. Brown has answered the original question at the beginning of this thread quite well. As a resident of this area, I feel we do need more density in Kentlands, I would want to live on Booth Street with the added residential traffic, and I feel the City's housing policy is being met with this proposal.
-- Clark Wagner (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 06, 2001.
Andy, can you explain where you got the $1,075,000 surplus figure. Some back of the envelope figures show revenues much less than that even before expenses.
Cost 1 Bozzuto luxury apartment: $135,000 (Washington Post 6/26) Markup 50% $ 67,500 (WAG) Property value one apartment $202,500 Value 350 apartments $70,875,000
Property tax $0.212 per $100 value $150,255 (100% assessment)
Household income per apartment $ 75,000 (MoCo 2000 median) MoCo income tax 75K@0.029 $ 2,175 Total MoCo income tax $761,250
Gaithersburg's share MoCo tax @50% $380,625 (WAG)
Total revenue to Gaithersburg ****$530,880****
Expenses to Gaithersburg $???,???
-- Rick Marvin (RickMarvin@aol.com), August 07, 2001.
I asked Michael Berney to delete this so I could re-post it. Thanks Michael. It was originally posted on July 24th. The original text follows:
Wanted to input some thoughts since I just saw a presentation for the Upton's site.
I think S. Salzberg makes a good point about the underutilization of the Upton's site. It is currently an unused parking lot and a vacant building. I think the issue would be quite different if it was a wooded lot or an undisturbed piece of land.
A number of retail developers have passed on the site because of the poor performance/saturation of the current retail in Kentlands. In addition to having Target and other retailers one of the reasons why the Rio (Washingtonian Center) is doing ok is because of the "critical mass" of residents that already existed in the surrounding neighborhoods before the retail was developed and because it is somewhat of a destination area as someone already mentioned.
As Bill Edens likely knows from his experience in the commercial real estate business, when lots/sites get a reputation as not performing, such as the Uptons site has, it becomes increasingly difficult to get viable proposals to redevelop them. The same thing happened at Rio many years ago, but it was then redeveloped after some "critical mass" had built up and is performing better now as a result.
It is my opinion that the Rio (Washingtonian Center) could benefit from additional office space closer to the retail core. I think whoever made the point about Quadrangle's experience with the Quince Orchard Park office space was important as it relates to the viability of the Upton's site as an office project. I think that area already has/will in in the near future have a "critical mass" of office space with the addition of MedImmune and the likely influx of other tenants as a result.
Regarding demographics of people likely to rent at a "luxury" apartment project at that location, the rents for apartments could range from a low of $1200/mo for a ground floor one bedroom apartment to over $2000/mo. for a select number of units. The weighted average rent would probably be somewhere between $1350-$1500/mo per unit including all amenities and depending on the mix of units. The larger property management companies usually have strict tenant qualifications in place such as credit checks and criminal checks.
One standard for qualification to live in a top tier apartment community is that your yearly income has to be greater than 40 times the monthly rent. For example if the monthly rent of the apartment you wanted to rent was $1200 then your yearly income would have to be a minimum of $48,000. One of the main reasons why people move out of "luxury" rental communities is to purchase a home.
In any case, this was the first time I visited this bulletin board and the discussion was quite interesting to read. Hope you can get all of the concessions you want/that I've seen mentioned here (i.e. parks, art in public places, better connections to the existing retail centers of Kentlands, Great Seneca pedestrian overpass) out of the owners of the property if this moves forward.
The writer is on the City of Gaithersburg Economic Development Committee but the opinions expressed above are his personal opinions.
-- Austin Decker (email@example.com), August 07, 2001.
In response to Rick Marvin's request, below is a summary of the fiscal benefits and costs to the City of Gaithersburg and Montgomery County from the conversion of the vacant Upton's into 350 luxury apartments:
The largest source of revenues is the annual real estate taxes paid by the owners of the property. These are based upon the assessed valuation of the property. The current assessment of the Upton’s store is approximately $7.54 million, which generates $91,607 in annual real estate taxes (at the current tax rate of $1.215 per $100 of assessed valuation and excluding solid waste fees). The estimated cost to construct 350 apartments is approximately $60 million ($170,000 per unit); however, we will assume a more conservative tax assessment of $50 million which will generate about $607,500 in annual real estate taxes, or over 6.5 times the amount generated by the Uptons. The City of Gaithersburg receives 21% of this amount, or $127,575 while the County receives the remaining $479,925.
Another source of revenues are the share of Personal Income Taxes paid by the residents of the apartments to the State of Maryland, Montgomery County, and the City of Gaithersburg. Montgomery County receives approximately 3% of each resident’s taxable income, and the City of Gaithersburg receives 17% of this amount. The City of Gaithersburg Office of Economic & Community Development has provided a formula to calculate this amount based upon the average household income of the new residents. Mathematically, they indicate that the City receives .51% of 75% of the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of each and every household, while Montgomery County receives 2.49% of 75% of the AGI of each household. Based upon the $85,000 projected average annual household income of the residents, we calculate this to be about $556,000 per year to Montgomery County and $114,000 per year to the City of Gaithersburg.
Another source of revenue, although it only occurs once, is the building permit and plan check fees paid to the City of Gaithersburg to construct the building. Based upon fees published by The City of Gaithersburg these fees will total $565,200.
To summarize, the revenues break down as follows:
City of Gaithersburg Montgomery County
Building Permit/Plan Check Fee $ 565,200
Annual Real Estate Tax $ 127,575 $ 479,925 Annual Pers Income Tax $ 114,000 $ 556,000 TOTAL ANNUAL REVENUE $ 241,575 $ 1,035,925
The annual costs generated by this project are additional demands upon schools, police, fire, and roads, with the greatest expenditure by far being schools. The school cost per pupil is $8,175 (source=Montgomery County Public School System). Meanwhile, utilizing student generation rates from the Board of Education, the 350 apartments are expected to generate 10 school-aged children (these are luxury units populated primarily by retired “empty-nesters” and dual income couples without children). The highest cost is therefore the $81,750 in annual school costs. The costs of police service and public safety are $100 per resident (source=City of Gaithersburg), totaling $56,000 for the 350 units; while fire service provided by Montgomery County costs $115 per person or $64,400 for the 350 units (source=FY 2001 Fire and Rescue Budget). All the roads within the apartment complex are privately maintained, so there is no additional road costs.
To summarize, the costs break down as follows:
City of Gaithersburg Montgomery County
Annual School Costs $ -0- $ 81,750 Annual Police Costs $ 56,000 $ -0- Annual Fire Costs $ -0- $ 64,400 Annual Road Costs $ -0- $ -0- TOTAL ANNUAL COSTS $ 56,000 $ 146,150
City of Gaithersburg Montgomery County
TOTAL ANNUAL FISCAL SURPLUS $ 185,575 $ 889,775
This analysis shows that the development of 350 luxury apartment units upon the vacant Upton’s site generates a fiscal surplus of $1,075,350 for the City of Gaithersburg and Montgomery County.
By way of comparison, the Upton's store at the height of its productivity (or any other retail use for that matter) generated only $91,607 in revenues ($19,237 to the City and $72,370 to the County) before the costs of police and fire service. This is one-twelfth of the revenues to the City and one-fourteenth the revenues to the County of our proposal.
-- Andy Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 08, 2001.
I see that the Blackboard made absolute hash out of the tables I attached with my last posting. If there is a way to reformat so that the tables show up, please let me know. Hopefully the text will be clear.
-- Andy Brown (email@example.com), August 08, 2001.
Andy, Do you have a timetable from the city to bring this plan forward? If so can you share it with us?
-- Bill Edens (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 08, 2001.
[Note: The body of this anonymous message has been deleted. Please note the policy for this community forum: click here.]
-- Your Opponent(s) (email@example.com), August 08, 2001.
You continue to use Gestappo tactics against me and others in an attempt to distract from the real issues.
To the anonymous poster,
Criticizing someone for spelling mistakes in an online/bulletin board format is unrelated to the issues at hand. Spelling and grammar errors in this format happen all the time.
Enough with the meaningless and distracting personal attacks from both of you against others in the community.
-- Austin Decker (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 09, 2001.
I go away for 2 weeks and come back to this.
First of all, the ad hominem attacks must stop. Please remember, all posters - except anonymous ones - have the interests of the community at heart, even if we disagree with them. It is appropriate to point out where a poster may have other motives as well as those of the community, but some of the comments are really off base.
As to the anonymous poster, we should all ignore his/her postings and not respond to them. No constructive discussion has been contributed by this poster, and the effect of the postings has been to do nothing but distract us from an attempt to discuss the issues. If this poster does not want to attach his/her name to the postings, we cannot determine the source of those postings - possible biases, background, and even if the poster is a member of the community. I know these postings have been brought to the attention of the moderator of the site, and hope there is some action taken so the discussion can stay on the issues. (or as near as possible considering the shots Mr. Edens and Mr. Decker take at each other - but at least they do advance the discussion.)
I want to thank Andy Brown for giving us some numbers to chew over, look at, and consider. I think some of the information may be based on assumptions that may not apply - for example the prices of the units are around those of Bethesda, but the site has no Metro, not nearly the amount of activity that Bethesda has, and no mature employment base as Bethesda has. The income level of proposed residents, $85,000, may turn out to be overly optimistic.
I would also like to know what the status of the application is with the City for the rezoning of the property. I would like know so that I, along with all other posters, may be able to contribute to the decisions made by the City.
Best regards to all, David L. Friend
-- David L. Friend (email@example.com), August 09, 2001.
I have not made any negative personal attacks against Mr. Edens or anyone else in this discussion and I am distrubed by your comments that lump me in with Mr. Edens.
-- Austin Decker (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 09, 2001.
Michael and myself; and I am assuming others in this forum are actively pursuing the anonymous poster and I think we will be able to find out who it is in the near future.
-- Austin Decker (email@example.com), August 09, 2001.
Mr. Decker, I apologize - after rereading your postings along with those of Mr. Edens, I realize I may have overstated the amount of barbs thrown by either of you. I was merely trying to distinguish both of your postings, which have been contentious, with those of the anonymous poster. I do belive that the postings both you and Mr. Edens have been very constructive to the discussion, as I stated in my posting of earlier today. Please accept my apologies, I do not want to implicate that either your or Mr. Edens have been making the types of personal attacks the anonymous poster has made. Sincerely, David L. Friend
-- David L. Friend (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 09, 2001.
Andy, Thanks for the numbers. I've noticed that there are a lot of errors that result in significantly lower benefits and higher expenses to the city.
............................................Corrected.........Developer........... Annual City Property Tax.......$106,000..........$127,575............ Annual City Income Tax.........$100,046..........$114,000............ Annual Police Costs..,,.........($ 65,800)........($ 56,000)
TOTAL ANNUAL REVENUE...$140,246..........$185,575
The developer overstates the annual benefit to the city by 32.32%.
1. The city property tax revenue is overstated by 20.3%
Developer's figures equate to a $0.255/$100 city tax rate. The city's rate is only $0.212/$100. The property tax revenue for the city on $50M is $106,000, not $127,575.
2. The city income tax revenue is overstated by 8.8%
The local 2000 income tax rate is 2.9%, not 3.0%, and the developer used the household Total Income to compute the tax, not the Adjusted Gross Income. The latest available (1998) Montgomery AGI is 9.0% less than total income. The city income tax revenue on 350 households is $100,046, not $114,000.
3. The city police and public safety expense is understated by 17.5%
The 2000 cencus renter household size in Gaithersburg City is 2.42. Even if we figure 35 units (10%) w/ 3 people, 238 (68%) w/ 2 people and 77 (22%) w/ 1 person that is an average of 1.88. Developer's figures use 1.6. Expenses would be $65,800 at 1.88 people/unit, not$56,000 at 1.6.
I have no information on the one-time permit/planning fee.
-- Rick Marvin (RickMarvin@aol.com), August 10, 2001.
Thank you Mr. Marvin, for doing a bit more with the numbers. The more acutal information we can get, the better.
David L. Friend
-- David L. Friend (email@example.com), August 10, 2001.
1. The formulas you contest for calculating the City's share of annual real estate (21% of County Tax) and personal property (.51% of 75% of AGI) came directly out of a meeting with the Assistant City Manager held on June 7.
2. The average resident count of 1.6 per unit is based upon the 4,573 units that Archstone owns in Northern Virginia and Suburban Maryland. I think you will agree that the average renter household size in Gaithersburg City has very little to do with luxury apartments renting for $1,400 to over $2,000 per month populated primarily by dual-income professionals with no children and retired seniors.
However you dissect it, the point remains: Our proposal generates a much higher fiscal benefit for the City and County than its use as retail or office use. Even using your numbers (which I believe understate our revenues), our proposal generates over 7 times the City's revenues from retail/office, and over 12 times the County's revenues from retail/office. (Since all of our children attend schools run by Montgomery County, the fiscal health of the County will be important to you as well as the fiscal health of the City).
I am not arguing that a decision should be made to change the use from retail/office to residential on fiscal benefits alone - I believe that there are many other tangible benefits which have been well articulated on this Blackboard. However, the suggestion that some have made here that this proposal doesn't serve the City well economically is obviously way off base.
-- Andy Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 10, 2001.
Here's something to think about. What follows below is the text of an email that Dick Arkin sent me concerning an alternative use for the Upton's site. He also read Mr. Ehat's full letter (that you will see below) at the recent Mayor and City Council meeting, so it is in the public record.
Duck pins, Henry?
Below is a copy of the proposal from JBG Rosenfeld Retail Properties of Bethesda, who have contacted me as part of an effort to determine how the Kentlands public would react to a development proposal for the Upton's site, should the Archstone project not be approved. I have put this proposal on the record, so it is public.
I will write a story based on this proposal for the upcoming Town Crier.
You will also be interested in knowing that the KCA is planning to schedule a faciliated informational and discussion forum on the Archstone proposal for sometime in November.
If the Archstone deal fails, the owners of the property could put this project in with a simple use permit (no change in zoning, SPD, or site plan approval is required). The City could not legally deny a change in use that is otherwise consistent with the existing SDP and site plan approval.
JBG Rosenfeld Retail Properties, a Bethesda developer, is interested in determining how the community would react to a development proposal for the Upton's site, should the Archstone project not be approved. Grant Ehat, a principal of the firm, would be interested in seeing responses to this proposal.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
JBG Rosenfeld RETAIL PROPERTIES
Montgomery County has a large and rapidly growing Asian-American population which is underserved by traditional retailers. In fact, according to recent U.S. Census data, the Asian-American population has grown from 0.8% of the Montgomery County population in 1960 to over 11% in 2000 -- almost 100,000 residents! These residents have tremendous buying power and their retail needs are simply not being addressed by the typical grocery or drug store anchored neighborhood shopping center.
Patterned after the highly successful Eden Center in Seven Corners, VA, which commands some of the highest retail rents in the Washington Metropolitan area, as well as locations in Fredericksburg, VA and Germantown, MD, Kentlands Center will contain both retail and entertainment elements under a single roof.
Approximately one-half of the building will be dedicated to entertainment space featuring high-quality oak billiard tables, duckpin bowling, and a pub with inlaid dance floor. The balance of the building will be subdivided into twenty-five to thirty individual retail shops specifically targeted to the Asian-American shopper. For example, stores selling Asian foodstuffs, beauty supplies, cellular phones, gifts, jewelry, videos, and convenience items would be complemented by services including a hair and nail salon, financial services, video rental, dry cleaning, and others.
Overall, the Kentlands Center will be a dynamic 24/7 retail and entertainment hub attracting patrons and shoppers from both the local and regional market.
-- Grant Ehat, Principal
-- Bob Mauri (email@example.com), October 27, 2001.
I'm sure the new developers mean well, but frankly the new proposal for a mixture of restaurant, bowling alley, bar, and various shops sounds terrible compared to the Archstone proposal for high-end apartments. I sincerely hope the Archstone proposal goes through. They're going to do numerous things to improve the facade on Booth St., make a park, etc etc - all things that will not happen if the property is re-developed as retail again.
-- Steven Salzberg (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 27, 2001.
Michael asked me to contribute.
Enclosed malls / shopping centers are a thing of the past.
Gaithersburg has already learned this from its experiences with the old Rio complex.
To stir the rumor mill, I have also heard that there is a proposal for an office project for the Upton's site if the Archstone deal falls through.
However, if properly phased / timed to eliminate the impact on already overcrowded schools and roads, the Archstone proposal is still the best. And if Andy and Archstone are willing to work with and add value to the community by contributing items -- some of which are mentioned above (pedestrian overpass, parks, etc.).
-- Austin Decker (email@example.com), October 28, 2001.
Based on the continued comments, as well as the presentation at the Gaithersburg Council meeting, one thing is continuing to trouble me. Namely, the improvements cited to the Booth streetscape. While the proposals of parks, space for KCA, additional retail and offices, as well as other community amenities would definitely create a lovely landscape, we must remember that there are numerous property owners of these parcels.
Are these landowners on board? Not just receptive, but actively seeking to make the cited improvements? Is the developer, presenting this wonderful vision willing to forward some money to make the ideas they presented to improve Booth Street a reality? If they are not, these additional improvements should NOT be part of the debate/proposal that we discuss.
I am happy that the developer is willing to seek community input, and to stay for the long haul. But the other proposals, in the current ecomonic climate, seem to be scare tactics; proposals that would not go anywhere but would produce some forward momentum on the current proposal.
Thanks for all the information. Keep on talking!
-- David L. Friend (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 29, 2001.
Thanks to those who voted in the recent election. I think some important issues were raised.
To those who are interested: the back pedaling by the mayor and city council has alredy begun on the moratorium issue.
The mayor and city council all promised in the weeks leading up to the election that there would no new residential construction until the school overcrowding issues were addressed in the Gaithersburg and Q.O. clusters.
Recommendations released last week for the 2003 capital budget by Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jerry D. Weast would delay several school projects in the Gaithersburg area in both the Quince Orchard and Gaithersburg clusters.
This means that at least one, and likely many, of the schools in both clusters will not receive relieve from already overcrowded conditions until 2005 at the earliest.
That means that no new residential construction will be approved by the Gaithersburg City Council or supported by the Mayor of Gaithersburg for completion over the next four years.
My assumptions in this simple analysis are based on promises made by all of the elected officials in the City of Gaithersburg in the weeks leading up to the recent election.
Check out the article in the weekend Gaithersburg Gazette below to see why I say there is back pedaling going on.
-- Austin A. Decker (email@example.com), November 10, 2001.
The one above is not working. Try this one below to see the article.
-- Austin A. Decker (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 11, 2001.
The actual announcement of the moritorium by the council and mayor stated that the hold on new residential developments in Gaithersburg was to be in place until the conclusion of a master plan review. This would be several months, not several years. One of the factors for this decision was a need for clairfication of the plans of the MCPS regarding school capacities, as well as future construction plans. The moritorium itself was not tied directly to the construction of new schools or capacity. I'd hardly call this "backpedaling," it's consistent with the announced moritorium.
What is important, and we must participate in, is the upcoming master plan review process - which will have a bigger and longer lasting impact on all kinds of development than any short-term moritorium on residential construction.
-- David L. Friend (email@example.com), November 12, 2001.
The forum in putting a blank near the end of the Gazette URL
i.e. "79268- 1.html"
you need to take the blank out
-- Rick Marvin (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 12, 2001.
I wanted to check exactly what Henry and John said on 15 October when they announced they support the moritorium, so I went to the Gaithersburg/TV site on the city web to look at the video.
Guess what? The video isn't there. It has the video from 8 October and it has the video from 22 October, but not the 15th. Why is this not a surprise?
I think I've located a copy of the 15th, so if the city has lost its video it can still post the copy so everyone can check the words used.
-- Rick Marvin (email@example.com), November 12, 2001.
There has clearly been back pedaling.
It is unfortunate if you do not understand this.
With the excecption of newly elected John S. all of the now in place council members and mayor said there would be no new residential construction until school overcrowding was addressed. These statements were made at either candidates forums, in newspaper articles, in letters to the editor from the mayor and council, or at council meetings before the election.
There is a residential project slated for a hearing on the Nov. 19th.
If that gets approved before the master plan process is completed will you continue to deny that there is back pedaling?
-- Austin Decker (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 12, 2001.
I should have asked you if you think back pedaling is in effect if any residential project is approved before the master plan process is completed -- not just the project slated for the 19th.
I still believe back pedaling is in effect already -- but your comments on the above question will help me understand your p.o.v.
-- Austin Decker (email@example.com), November 12, 2001.
Austin, I think the statements about school overcrowding were meant as illustrative of one of the factors that need to be considered. School overcrowding, however, is an issue that the City cannot have complete control over, as the decisions of the school board may undermine even the most carefully planned development. I do have to say that some of the comments of council members in the latest article in the Gazette (Nov. 14th) are troubling. What is more important, however, are the actions - taken at public hearings where residents can present their opinions. David Friend
-- David L. Friend (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 15, 2001.
A front-page article, "Opinions Differ on Housing Halt," in this week's Gaithersburg Gazette (January 30, 2002) reports that "most Kentlands residents" support the Archstone Communities' plans for building 350 "luxury apartments" on the former Upton's site. I am curious how the paper arrived at that conclusion, as I am not aware of their having conducted any poll here on the issue. Does anyone know what method the Gazette used to assess public opinion in Kentlands on the Archstone/Upton's matter?
-- Mary N. Macdonald (email@example.com), January 31, 2002.
I doubt whether the Gazette based this statement on any poll. It probaby would have been more accurate for the paper to say that there was "strong" or "substantial" support for the project in Kentlands, and base this on the fact that the Kentlands Citizens Assembly voted to endorse the project (and even on Chairman Clyde Horton's appearance at the City's Dec. 17th hearing to testify in favor of Uptons).
In our brief history, it is unprecedented for the Citizens Assembly to endorse a development project. Indeed, sentiment in the community has been in the opposite direction; remember the vigorous opposition to Wal-Mart and McDonald's?
A good question for this forum to examine is how the project gained such support in Kentlands. In part, it's because the gentlemen in the Uptons group put together a financially viable package that is compatible with Kentlands' needs and values. It's also because the City Council's rough treatment of the Uptons group last October really backfired, and was the catalyst for some folks to become strong advocates and activists (e.g., letters to the Town Crier, meetings, and testimony at City Hall).
Stay tuned, because this one is not over.
By the way, I think that Councilman John Schlichting acted courageously in his lone vote against the necessity for a residential development deferment. Thank goodness, we have a new, independent voice on the Council.
-- Bob Mauri (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 31, 2002.
Mary: Thank you for pointing out that what is stated in the press is has not necessarily been researched. However, I think it points to a disturbing trend in the discussions in the Kentlands. More and more I believe that residents are voicing opinions on "What is best for Kentlands". While this should be an imporant consideration for the City and other leaders, they also have a responsibility to the rest of the City. I find it troubling that the residents of Kentlands somtimes forget that they are residents of the City of Gaithersburg as well. Gaithersburg's housing stock is already sufficiently full of apartment units, no matter how those are classified by a developer. In the best interest of Gaithersburg, for reasons repeatedly stated in this forum, we should ask for a reduction in the number of apartment units proposed. Too often, I find that there is a sentiment that Kentlands is a separate community from the rest of the City. We are a part of that City and cannot ignore that our wishes for our community might conflict or need to consider issues outside the boundary of Kentlands. I believe this also contributed to the collapse of the proposed plaza between the Art Barn and the Mansion (City properties to be enjoyed by all, by the way). Again, thank you Mary for posting a dissenting view.
-- David L. Friend (email@example.com), February 01, 2002.
Mary, I wondered how the Gazette came to that conclusion also. I, for one, have never been a huge supporter of more high density apartments in Kentlands or Gaithersburg for that matter.
Not to open a can of worms..... I sure wish we were able to get Target and Barnes and Noble to come here! WalMart may not be my personal favorite store, but it certainly would have brought foot traffic to our town center. Let's hope we don't lose K Mart. Again, not my favorite store but a necessary one!
-- Lauren Paiva (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 01, 2002.
Lots of mine fields here. I'll step in just a few.
1) Bob, I do not agree that "the Kentlands Citizens Assembly voted to endorse the [Archstone] project." Rather, as Dick Arkin reported in his "President's Notebook" in last January's Town Crier, our Board of Trustees has endorsed this proposal. There is a distinction between the Citizens Assembly and our Board of Trustees, as defined in our charter, and we should not lose sight of that fact.
2) David, I agree with your comments about residents of Kentlands sometimes being too narrowly focused on what they think is "best for Kentlands" and considering us a community apart from Gaithersburg. It is a baffling phenomenon, given the city's critical role (and the considerable political risk to elected city officials at the time) in bringing Kentlands into existence.
3) Enticements offered to gain support for the Archstone project are compatible with very parochial interests in Kentlands (see, e.g., "Q & A Regarding the Archstone Proposal" in the December, 2001 Town Crier). This has left me with a question. Is it the proposal for 350 "luxury apartments" per se, or the enticements package, that is perceived by some to make the project so "right for Kentlands"?
I have no idea whether or not there should be apartments at the Upton's site, or, if there should be, how many would be appropriate. One thing I do think, though, is that, as proposed, the units seem small for the rents being suggested. Well, that is the way of it now, isn't it? Perhaps (and this is going to make me real popular here), if people had never started to think of the house they live in as a vehicle for making a killing in real estate - if a house were just a home - we would not even be having this discussion. Think about it.
-- Mary N. Macdonald (email@example.com), February 03, 2002.
Hi Mary - David - everyone,
It's been a while since I've posted in this forum, but I felt a strong need to weigh in on the Upton's site and the Gazette article on the same subject. I too wondered out loud how the Gazette surmised that a majority of Kentlands residents support the Archstone proposal. Other than the board and a handful of vocal citizens, I haven't heard any strong opinions in favor of this project at all.
Personally, I think Archstones contention that the project would bring no new traffic to the area is ridiculous. 350-some-odd units and no new traffic? Traffic is traffic no matter what kind of a formula you use to present your case.
Turn Uptons into a city community center. There isn't one in our area and it would be a great use of space. If that doesn't work, then put in a park - that's right- open space. Kentlands is dense enough and the city desperately needs to stop residential building until the roads and schools can handle the enormous congestion.
Nice to see you all again.
-- Robin Caldwell (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 04, 2002.
Kentlands' residents support for the Archstone project has been demonstrated time and again. Through petitions, testimony at public hearings, and most recently at a KCA sponsored forum on the Uptons' site, sentiment has been overwhemingly in favor of this plan. While others in the community can confirm this support, I do wish to respond to the recent posting which suggested that Archstone contends that the project "would bring no new traffic to the area". This is what we have said:
Currently the 60,000 square foot Uptons building is vacant; it generates not a single auto trip. However, when the building was used as a retail store, and if another retail use were to occupy the building, the traffic would return to a significant level. In fact, a 60,000 square foot retail use (such as the Fresh Fields once approved for the site) will generate several times more traffic than 350 apartments. This makes perfect sense - residents typically leave in the morning and return in the evening, perhaps going out again for dinner or to shop, so each resident averages perhaps 4 trips per day (some more, some less). A 60,000 square foot retail building has hundreds of people shopping in the store at any one time, and they come and go regularly throughout the day. This is even more pronounced on weekends. If formulas are unconvincing, one need only sit for a few moments at the entrance to the Giant Food Center at Kentlands Square, and then again at the entrance to the Beacon Place Apartments to see this firsthand.
-- Andy Brown (email@example.com), February 04, 2002.
Andy, As noted, residents at proposed apartments leave in the morning and return in the evening - exactly the times at which roads in this area experience the most congestion. Adding 350-700 more vehilces to Great Seneca and Quince Orchard during the rush hours is exactly the kind of impacts the City has been trying to address with a residential development moritorium.
-- David L. Friend (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 04, 2002.
FYI #1...There is no residential development moratorium in the city of Gaithersburg.
The original idea of a moratorium...which was my idea...never happened.
Before the election the mayor and council talked about a moratorium.
Heres how that original idea has detroriated since then.
Residential moratorium...Residential time-out...Residential deferral...Excemptions from the Residential deferral
To summarize, we have come full circle.
FYI #2--Michael Subin (County Council Person) is proposing a residential moratorium tied to school capacity in the Gaithersburg cluster (Those schools feeding into G.H.S.). It will be interesting to see how much political mileage he can get out of that. Probably alot...based on other recent elections. Hopefully, he is a good steward of the process, sets some real goals, and makes it work.
Austin A. Decker
-- Austin Decker (email@example.com), February 12, 2002.
Has anyone heard of a rumor that the Montgomery County Police are thinking of using the Upton space as a county detention center? It was further rumored that the site behind the new Long and Foster building and Lowes was to be used for a new hotel. Any word on these new developments?
-- Stephen White (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 15, 2002.
There is a public hearing on the following hotel proposal on 2/19/02:
JOINT - SDP-02-001 - Application Requests Approval of a Schematic Development Plan (SDP), Known as Kentlands Midtown, Section 3, Lot 1, in the Kentlands Midtown Development in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The Plan Includes a Proposed Change of Use From Retail to Hotel on 3.4 Acres (or 148,104 square feet) of Land, Incorporating a Three-Story 113 Unit, 45,870 Square Foot Hotel. The 3.4 Acre Parcel is North of Kentlands Boulevard, in the Midtown Section of the Kentlands Development in the Mixed Use Development (MXD) Zone (Extended Stay America)
No idea about a detention center.
-- Austin Decker (email@example.com), February 15, 2002.
Read the current Town Crier. Dick Arkin writes about the police station idea. I guess that those of us who supported the only financially viable and compatible proposal--the 350 apartments (which have now been revised down to 316; again, read the Town Crier)--will now have to back the police station. If we don't, we may again be characterized in this forum as ungrateful folks who put the interests of Kentlands above those of the City.
-- Bob Mauri (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 15, 2002.
I assume Bob Mauri's joking in his comments about backing the police station. I was horrified to read in the Town Crier that the police may use this site as an impound lot (with high barbed-wire fences, all-night security, bright lights, etc) plus a jail! For those who continue to insist on commercial development and oppose the Archstone proposal, I hope they will back off. The two alternatives - an Asian mini-mall and this police station - will do much more to lower the quality of life (and property values) in the Kentlands than the Archstone project. The Archstone project is the only one that even remotely fits into the overall design of the Kentlands. The residents will walk to shopping, parking is hidden away rather than exposed in multi-acre open lots, and the facade they've designed is beautiful. I encourage those who wish to voice an opinion to come to the clubhouse Feb 28 for another meeting about this proposal. Every meeting to date has made it clear that there is overwhelming support from Kentlands residents for the Archstone plan. If a jail and police impound lot takes over the Upton's site, it will be an unmitigated disaster for our community.
-- Steven Salzberg, Ph.D. (email@example.com), February 16, 2002.
Ok people, take another look at the blurb in the Town Crier. There is no impound lot, there is no detention center, there is no barbed wire. I work directly across the street from the 1st District Police HQ in SW D.C. There are none of these things. There isn't even a fence. However, the Kentlands Clubhouse has a 10' fence.
Let's take a realistic look at this: $8.7 Million, starting in 2007, six years from now? The county can't find $7 Million for the Lakelands Middle School. This is just another mind game and it's not a coincidence that it comes up just as another apartment proposal is coming up.
The best use is still the West Side Rec Center. Why not offer the owner a swap of the city property in the Technology Park for the Upton property. The land values are about the same. What's a rec center doing in a technology park anyway? It's a case where everyone wins. Upton's (or whomever) gets a property that doesn't have the access limitations of the Upton's site, and the city and Kentlands get a rec/aquatic center accessible to everyone. And Kentlands property values will improve due to the proximity of recreation and technology businesses. Apartments will do absolutely nothing to improve property values.
Guys, let's go for the win/win solution.
-- Rick Marvin (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 18, 2002.
Rick, thank you for pointing out some of the flagrant discrepancies between the description posted here for what a district police headquarters might involve and Dick Arkin's blurb on this matter in the Town Crier.
There is something in a couple of the more recent postings that really bothers me, and that is the knee-jerk, negative reaction to the mere thought of a police station's being located in Kentlands. There was a time when the police were welcomed into communities and made a part of them. I would hope that, if we ever should be presented with the possibility of the Sixth District Police Headquarters' locating somewhere in Kentlands, we would at least wait to hear the facts, before passing judgment.
-- Mary N. Macdonald (email@example.com), February 18, 2002.
Maybe it would help if we quote exactly what Dick Arken wrote in the Town Crier:
"The project, which will cover about 4 1/2 acres, is likely to include a large fenced and lighted parking area for emergency vehicles. The proposed two-story 27,700 square foot police station and jail building would house police operations, investigative units and administrative offices, as well as several small prisoner holding areas."
-- Bob Mauri (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 18, 2002.
Well, from an economic perspective it would only make sense to use the land for something that would add value to the area -- a new store or an apartment complex would do the trick. While the police are a welcome sign in any community we must not lose sight of the fact that a police station can also have a negative impact on our property values; perhaps a small annex, but not a full police station! That combined with an extended stay hotel will bring us much closer to the disasters found in Montgomery Village -- and quite frankly, I don’t want the Kentlands/Lakelands to become the next Montgomery Village!!! I don't know why anyone would want to build a hotel in the Kentlands...there does not appear to be that many nearby businesses that can use the facilities and RIO is just a mile or two away. If a hotel must be built, I think it is our civic duty to insure that it is designed to reflect the community -- similar to a B&B or even the new Long & Foster building!!! If you ask me, however, it will most likely fail – and then what?
-- Stephen White (email@example.com), February 18, 2002.
Concerning the "Police Station," note that Dick Arkin's article says that "the former Upton's site is among those being considered by the Montgomery County Police Department as a possible location for" a Police site.
My understanding is that a committee was authorized to locate all possible sites where a Police facility could be built, and that there are many sites listed. Also, that no action or recommendations have been made yet as to site selection.
I spoke with a Gaithersburg city official today who informed me that the word he had received is that the county was looking toward the Eastern side of Gaithersburg and Montgomery Village area for a site.
I intend to await further factual information before forming my own opinion about this.
-- Harvey Kaye (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 19, 2002.
Regarding the meeting on the 28th - have the develpoiers changed the proposal from what was originally submitted or is it just a restatement of those plans? I'd just like to know a bit more about the meeting before deciding whether to attend or not. Thanks.
Also, if things go forward re: the proposal for a police substation, check out the Mont. Co. police facility on Research Boulevard as a starting point. I would imagine the substation would be smaller, but have similar equipment, parking, etc. Likewise, I'd wait until the process goes further along before discussing it.
-- David L. Friend (email@example.com), February 19, 2002.
An eastern Gaithersburg or MV location for a the distrist 6 police HQ would certainly make a lot more sense. The Upton's site is right on the edge of the district boundary. If you'd like to see district boundaries go to
-- Rick Marvin (RickMarvin@aol.com), February 19, 2002.
I am confused by Rick Marvin's reference to a "West Side Rec Center" and the "Technology Park." Is this the same piece of land off Route 28 near the eastern entrance to the GE building where the City intents to build an Aquatic Center in a few years? Also, Rick, how did you determine that the "land values are about the same?"
-- BoB Mauri (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 19, 2002.
Bob, The West Side Rec Center and the Aquatic Park are the thing. The name was changed a year or so ago. The property that contains the GE building is the GE Technology Park. The Rec Center/Aquatic Park property is the same parcel of land on at the GE entrance off Rte 28 and is part of the GE Technology Park.
The land values are from the State Department of Assessments and Taxation, based on the reported sales price.
The value for the Rec Center/Aquatic Park land was $2.1 Million as of January 00.
The value for the Upton's land was $2.0 Million as of January 00. The value of the building on the Upton's site was not counted. Since the developer wants to tear it down it would have a negative value to him, however it would have a positive value to the city (think win/win)
I'm sending you a copy of the SDAT data.
You can check the Upton's data at distric 09 account 03069352
The city property is at distric 09 account 03346081
-- Rick Marvin (email@example.com), February 20, 2002.
With the exception of a few, I am suprised that more people were not interested/concerned about the hotel development mentioned in other postings above.
The extended stay america brand is a low/mid level brand. I agree that a hotel would be a nice addition, but not this one.
I am suprised by the lack of interest in discussing this hotel developer. This hotel could cause more negative impact on property values than the Upton's apartment complex. Only a few people showed up to the public hearing on Feb. 19th for the initial hotel hearing.
Let's not forget that a Studio Plus (same hotel company as E.S.A) extended stay hotel on the other side of Gaithersburg had a crystal meth drug lab broken up in recent years. Cheap rates and stoves attract this kind of clientele.
I agree with the Montgomery Village comparisons. The worst could be next. I recall 20 years that the lakefront and other homes in MV were quite desirable, not so anymore. Still nice houses, but people know it is a detoriating neighborhood.
The real problem in Montgomery Village now is Section 8 housing. Montgomery County is renting out and/or buying TH's/Houses/Condos in MV from owners and putting section 8 tenants in there. They have been doing this at a growing rate over the past 10 years. The Section 8 housing is spreading like the plague in MV.
Austin A. Decker
-- Austin A Decker (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 24, 2002.
Presumably, the market that the proposed hotel would attract would be business people (remember, we are close to NIST, the proposed Medimmune complex across Great Seneca, and other biotech companies).
Some have even suggested that out of town visitors involved with games at the Germantown soccerplex might stay there on week-ends. Austin's alarmist comments about the proposed hotel remind me of those people a few years ago who were upset to learn that a K Mart was coming to Kentlands, and not the upscale regional mall that the local economy could no longer support. There were dire predictions of undesirables flocking to Kentlands and doing vulgar things like changing their car oil in the parking lot.
And now, several years later, folks are keeping their fingers crossed that this K Mart unit is not shut down as part of the Chapter 11 restructuring.
As for the comments on the deterioration of Montgomery Village, maybe I missed something in this discussion, but what is the connection between life over here and their problems?
-- R. Mauri (email@example.com), February 26, 2002.
The hotel discussion should be moved to another topic, maybe the Development of Kentlands Commercial Areas thread.
-- Rick Marvin (RickMarvin@aol.com), February 27, 2002.