Montgomery council passes Glenmont plan that emphasizes walkable development -- Gazette.Net


Officials are hopeful that a plan passed by the County Council will help revitalize the Glenmont area into a community where residents and shoppers can walk to public areas and take advantage of nearby mass transit.

The council approved the Glenmont Sector Plan on Tuesday, which addresses an roughly 700-acre area based around the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Randolph Road.

“I feel like now we can say that Glenmont is poised to present opportunities,” Council President Nancy Navarro (D-Dist.4) of Silver Spring said Tuesday.

The plan envisions a neighborhood centered on the Glenmont Shopping Center at the corner of Georgia and Randolph, as well as the Metro station that sits at the eastern end of Metro’s Red Line.

Glenmont hasn’t seen the types of enhancements that could take advantage of the Metro station there, Navarro said.

“The Glenmont of the future will be a walkable, diverse, and sustainable community with services and amenities primarily for the local residents and workers,” according to the plan’s introduction.

Much of the plan hinges on redevelopment of the shopping center, was well as the integration of some commercial properties into the Privacy World at Glenmont Metrocentre garden apartment community.

Along with adding some retail spaces, the community will likely add some owner-occupied units but will remain mostly rental properties, Property Manager Gregory Eisenstadt said Tuesday.

He said he hopes the redevelopment of Privacy World will lead to similar results in the shopping center.

Mike Fisher, who owns properties in the shopping center including ones that house a Pizza Hut and a Motor Vehicle Administration Express office, said the approval was “great news” that would give owners in the shopping center more flexibility to redevelop their properties in ways that will allow for a mix of residential and retail uses.

“It’s just a parking lot right now,” Fisher said.

When the sector plan was being developed, the main priority was to redevelop the shopping center, he said.

“It is the heart of Glenmont, and as goes the shopping center, so goes Glenmont,” Fisher said.

State Sen. Roger Manno said the redevelopment will help create a roughly 260-acre area of walkable development based around transit “where there’s essentially suburban blight right now.”

Manno (D-Dist. 19) of Silver Spring said he wants to make sure that the redevelopment of Privacy World doesn’t lead to the loss of any affordable housing.

The county and state were able to work together to create an enterprise zone around the area that provides tax credits for economic development in distressed areas, Manno said.

Residents of Glenmont and surrounding areas want a location where they can meet and that has restaurants and shops, similar to areas in Rockville or Bethesda, Manno said.

“Right now, what you have is an enormous concrete slab,” Manno said.

Along with the enterprise zone, a $58 million project to make two eastbound and two westbound lanes of Randolph Road travel beneath Georgia Avenue is also planned.

That work, which is expected to help ease traffic concerns at the heavily congested intersection, is projected to start in 2014.

There’s also a new environmentally friendly parking garage in Glenmont, Manno said.

But despite the various projects, he said, the crucial factor in Glenmont’s revitalization will be whether landowners and the private sector can come together and create a successful situation that will bring small businesses.

“All we can do is make it attractive for them,” Manno said.