Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Demolition of The Ambassador to begin this month in Wheaton

Two long-stalled Wheaton development projects have become one big project, which is being branded as "Wheaton Gateway." Montgomery County's Housing Opportunities Commission had delayed an earlier plan to redevelop the site of The Ambassador apartments (formerly a Best Western hotel) at 2715 University Boulevard West for several years. Lindsay Ford, located adjacent to The Ambassador site on Veirs Mill Road had indicated about two years ago that it was seeking to relocate, freeing up its even-larger property for redevelopment. Now the two sites are being assembled for one project by developers Ralph J. Duffie, Willco and the HOC.

To clear the way, demolition of the vacant Ambassador will begin this month, according to the development team. Interior demolition will begin first. Next month, the building's exterior will start to come down.

The news indicates the ice-cold Wheaton development market may at least be reaching a tepid temperature. However, this is one of only two projects to be proposed since the Council passed the Wheaton sector plan earlier this decade, and both have required a government entity partner, in this case the HOC (the Lot 13 project is being built by Montgomery County itself as a government office building).  But no private developer has proposed a truly-new project despite acres upon acres of available land.

It's certainly positive that a larger lot is being assembled here, which should allow for a much-more successful project scale. I'm sorry to see the venerable hotel go, but its curtain call allowed it to perform a final public service, by exposing that the County's affordable housing "crisis" may have been overstated. It turns out that the HOC not only didn't need the 162 apartments in the Ambassador, but had so many vacant units in its other properties, that it was able to relocate the entire population of the Ambassador to other sites very quickly.

Combined with the affordable Halpine View declaring it has many vacant units for which there is - according to the owners - no demand, this should give pause to the County Council's radical plan to destroy existing single-family home neighborhoods by allowing multifamily development within them. Turns out, at this former Best Western, there really was "room at the inn."

22 comments:

  1. "radical plan to destroy existing single-family home neighborhoods"

    Fuck you.

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    1. I'm surprised he didn't mention the cartel tbh

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    2. 2:26: Slow day at the Council Building?

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  2. "However, this is one of only two projects to be proposed since the Council passed the Wheaton sector plan earlier this decade"

    ?? The George...AVA Wheaton...

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    1. 3:36: Those were in the works prior to the rezoning.

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  3. I'm surprised Mr. "Lifelong Resident of Montgomery County" didn't remember what this site was before it was a Best Western hotel and a Redskins memorabilia shop.

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    1. 9:28: Being a lifelong resident doesn't mean you are 100 years old.

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    2. Well, you're half that number, and this building was in its original use during your lifetime.

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    3. 12:31: I'm not half that number, as you know from running all those background checks on me, creep. This building has always been a hotel in my lifetime, Saul Alinsky.

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    4. Stop crying Robert. No you aren’t 100 years old. Maybe not even 50 but close enough. Can you get off the damn spectrum for even one second?

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    5. 9:48: Why don't you stop crying, "ya big baby?" I know it hurts that I scooped everyone on this huge story, but get over it and pick up Hans Riemer's dry cleaning, Boy Friday.

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    6. Did I say "it wasn't a hotel" (or motel)? No, I didn't. So...what was the original brand under which it operated? It had that name for at least the first 10-15 years of your miserable life, Mr. Lifelong (except for being born in Virginia) Montgomery County resident.

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    7. It's really funny how Robbie the Spectrum Boy whines that "the MoCo Cartel blocked the local media from covering my campaign", but when residents actually read his campaign statements, right away he accuses them of "doing background checks on me, creep".

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    8. 9:56: I've never published my birth date, place of birth, address or any other such information in any official campaign materials released by me. You and the Gazette doxxed me after acquiring that information under the deception that it would only be used by reporters as background.

      9:53: Howard Johnson. Their coffee ice cream was the best. Few Bethesda residents are born in Bethesda because there are no public maternity wards in Bethesda hospitals.

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  4. 11:32AM Agreed. I read a tremendous article in the Post this morning. The first thing I thought was: in what hospital was the journalist delivered in?

    In all seriousness, get out of your crawl space and talk to real life people in Bethesda who can inform you about the fact that there isn't a maternity ward anywhere in Bethesda.

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    1. 2:47pm Dyer is a life long resident. What has that made you so mad all these years?

      Dyer knows MoCo like none other as a life long resident. Just a fact.

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  5. Great story Dyer, and you are absolutely right the county has purposely been restricting real development in Wheaton. For a little background on those who just want to defend the ridiculous policies of the mafia that is running the county into the ground just look at this article from over 7 years ago ( http://www.justupthepike.com/2012/01/lenny-greenberg-dreaming-of-wheaton.html?m=1 ). I don't know whats worse, the biggest owner in Wheaton crying for the ability to develop or the fact so little has changed since that article came out.

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  6. Wait, what is your proof ? If there is no need for affordable housing why so many homeless all over? The Ambassador had vacant units because the leasing office was told to NOT rent apts to slowly empty it out for redevelopment.

    Where is teh Lindsay Ford moving to?
    Halpine View has vacancies because Grady Management wont get rid of teh bed bug and rodent infestation!

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    1. 6:07: The Ambassador also had similar pest problems, but people still lived there. I'm not endorsing substandard conditions, but people live in such conditions in every urban area including D.C. to avoid being out on the street as the alternative. So there should be a waiting list for both the Ambassador and Halpine View, not vacancies.

      I think the Ambassador clearing out occurred more quickly than would have been possible merely by not renting when existing leases ran out. They were all full not long ago. In fact, the original - more humane - plan was to build a new tower next to it, and then move the existing tenants into the new building before demolishing the Ambassador.

      I agree there are many homeless, more than the County wants to admit, which is why we should be asking how there can be so many vacant apartments.

      Lindsay Ford was going to Aspen Hill, but not anymore, so I have no idea where - if anywhere - they plan to relocate at this point. Hoping to learn more soon. The PR firm for the developer did not respond to inquiries I made regarding the project.

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    2. Just to clarify, the reason I am certain the Ambassador residents were relocated to other HOC properties that had vacant units is that HOC themselves stated this to be the case last year.

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  7. Halpine View has vacancies because people DO NOT want to live there. The rental office treat you with disregard if you are not Latin. The apts are old with plastic formica countertops, old fixtures, old stoves, and VERMIN: ROACHES AND MICE.

    The South Asians and East Asians who live there do so because that is where NIH places them.

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    1. Well, we're theoretically talking about people who would otherwise be homeless, so I doubt they can be picky about old appliances. If the NIH employees - who are usually very intelligent people - are willing to stay at Halpine View, what is keeping poorer people from leasing there?

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