Wheaton Redevelopment Project Team to Host Community Workshop Nov. 17

Downtown Wheaton is about to undergo an exciting transformation and members of the local community are invited to help shape its future.

The downtown core area has been targeted for redevelopment by Montgomery County and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Through a solicitation process, the County and WMATA have selected a development team led by the B.F. Saul Company, which includes the architectural firm of Torti Gallas and Partners, Inc. and the civil engineering firm of Loiederman Soltesz Associates, Inc.  The team is starting to shape a vision for the mixed-used, transit-oriented development projects it will design and build on parcels of land on and adjacent to the Wheaton Metro Station.  Chesapeake Public Strategies, a local public affairs firm, will oversee the public engagement process.

Local residents and business leaders who want to learn about the team’s process for creating a project concept plan and who want to share their input are urged to attend an upcoming community workshop on Wednesday, Nov. 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Crossway Community, Inc, at 3015 Upton Drive, Kensington, MD 20895.

Workshop participants will be able to share their ideas for redevelopment of downtown Wheaton in small-group, breakout sessions on topics such as small business retention, uses of public space, and sustainable development.

To learn more about the County’s Wheaton redevelopment activities, please visit the Montgomery County website at

Costco is coming to Wheaton whether gas station is approved or not.  According to a report in this week’s Gazette Newspaper.

Costco has notified the county executives that they will come to Wheaton with or without the proposed gas station.  The request to fast track the gas station approval has been withdrawn and Costco has agreed to proceed with the longer approval process.  Approval for the store and the gas station will proceed separately.

This is great for Wheaton and Westfield Wheaton.  I think this store will bring much needed revenue to the area and of course JOBS.

The Montgomery County Planning Board approved the preliminary plan for an 18 story Safeway and apartment complex in downtown Wheaton, paving the way for construction to start by spring 2011.

The project slated for the 2 acre site at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Reedie Drive will include Safeway on the first floor, an underground parking garage and a 500 unit apartment complex above the store.

County planners and commissioners agreed that the Safeway project is key to revitalizing downtown Wheaton.  I couldn’t agree more.  This project will not only bring life to the downtown area, I think it will spur movement on additional projects that have been planned for Wheaton.

The developers will bring the finalized plans to the Planning Board within the next three months and hopefully will begin construction by the spring of 2011.

A majority of County Council members oppose a plan to speed up the process of bringing a Costco warehouse store and gas station to the Westfield Wheaton Shopping Center by skipping the normal zoning procedure.  What do you think?

I support the plans for Costco to open at Westfiled Wheaton Mall and reuse the long vacant Hecht’s space.  I believe this will be good for Wheaton and can also help with efforts to find developers needed to spur and continue Wheaton’s Redevelopment Plans.  But, I support the council’s opposition to fast tracking Costco.  The environmental impact of the proposed gas station should be studied thoroughly before any approvals are given.  I want to see Wheaton grow.  I want to see the redevlopment efforts succeed.   Wheaton has one of the largest business districts in the county and with successful redevelopment efforts, Wheaton can become a vibrant community with a healthy, walkable downtown business district.  Let’s make sure we do it right!

The County Council, which will have a public hearing 7:30 p.m. May 20 in the Stella B. Werner Council building’s seventh floor, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville. The public hearing was postponed this week from April 20 to May 20.

What’s your opinion?

Read the full article in the Gazette……..

The Safeway in Wheaton at Georgia Avenue and Reedie Drive has closed for redevelopment.  The store originally opened in 1951.  See the ad announcing the store opening from the Washington Post on July 10, 1951.

The original plans were for Safeway to move as part of the development of the mixed-use Avalon at Wheaton community at the corner of Blueridge and Georgia Avenue.

That was before Safeway began working with developer Patriot Realty.  Now, the Wheaton Safeway, a joint venture between Patriot and Safeway, will more than double its 23,000 s.f. store while remaining at the same 11201 Georgia Avenue spot and will include 57,500 s.f. of retail, 140 underground parking spaces for Safeway customers, upwards of 500 apartment units on top of that, and additional 411 residential parking spaces. The Wheaton store will resemble DC’s 14-story City Vista Safeway at 5th & K Streets NW.

The group is looking for approvals as soon as possible for their Safeway project and would like to be under construction within the next 18 months.  We can hope that approval comes quickly so we don’t have to look at the current site any longer than necessary.