Monday, June 29, 2015
New renderings of future Wheaton apartment tower (Photos)
Montgomery County is redeveloping the lower portion of the parking lot as the new headquarters of the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and a town square.
Amenities in the residential building will include bicycle parking (and potentially a bicycle repair shop, if planners have their way), a Club Room, an L-shaped 5th floor courtyard terrace area, and a 3-story above-ground parking garage with 173 residential spaces. Garage access will be from a new private driveway at the northernmost end of the site. A rooftop garden and kitchen are planned, and a yoga studio is on planners' wish lists. There will also be a large County use space on the ground floor, which will also feature retail space on the west side of the building.
There are drawbacks. The project plan refers to a controversial extension of Ennalls Avenue to Georgia Avenue, as proposed in the Wheaton CBD sector plan. And extended absence of the existing Parking Lot 13 will also be a tremendous hardship to the businesses that surround it in the Wheaton Triangle.
Despite a Wheaton Sector Plan that was highly-favorable to developers, there has been little interest by the private sector in redeveloping Wheaton since it passed in 2011. The Wheaton Triangle public-private project has been touted by county officials as a potential catalyst for private sector action. Supporting longtime local businesses who depend on Lot 13 while developing it will be the critical challenge for the county.
The Planning Board is scheduled to take up the Sketch Plan for the project at its July 9 meeting. Planning staff is recommending approval of the plan, with conditions.
Images via Montgomery County Planning Department