Updated plans for Wheaton redevelopment revealed -- Gazette.Net


Developers are moving forward with a revised design for downtown Wheaton that could have county staff moving into the regional services center building there by 2018.

Developers presented updated preliminary designs Dec. 11 for a new town square and Mid-County Regional Services Center in the Wheaton Triangle. The plans addressed residents’ concerns from meetings earlier this fall, and were received favorably by many at Wednesday’s meeting, according to meeting organizers.

“I’m actually really excited about [the plans] because I think they responded to a lot of the community’s concerns,” Ana Lopez van Balen, director of the Mid-County Regional Center, said.

Residents had complained that a past design of the services center building looked “like a downtown office building,” and a “glass box.” Developers StonebridgeCarras and Bozzuto responded with a style many agreed better matched Wheaton with walls that alternate between glass, aluminum surfaces, and fiber cement panels. Designs showed more variety in the surfaces with these different materials, as well as slight angles in the walls, and some surfaces protruding further than others. Siding also serves as a rain screen, which along with a green roof, on-site stormwater retention and treatment, and building systems efficiency, should earn the building LEED gold certification.

Developers also widened the sidewalks along Triangle Lane and proposed ideas for play areas. Many residents liked the idea of having a water feature — such as a fountain kids can play in.

The new design moved the hearing room to the second floor of the county building and the parking garage entrance to Grandview Avenue. Both of the changes will allow for more retail spaces on the ground floor of the building.

But some, like Danila Sheveiko, remained unsure of the plans. Sheveiko was skeptical that there is enough room for the green space shown along Reedie Drive and as part of the town square. He also wanted to see more greenery as part of the building.

“Wheaton needs an iconic building,” Sheveiko said, one that reflects the area’s aspirations. He didn’t think this fit the bill.

Al Roshdieh, deputy director of Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the project, said county staff and developers will draw out plans and begin contract negotiations in early 2014. The design phase will take about two years and the department expects to begin construction in 2016. They hope to finish construction in 2017 and begin moving county staff into the new building in 2018.

As for the green space that could be part of the town square, county staff and developers have been in conversations with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which owns the land, about using it as public green space.

“So far it’s moving in a favorable direction,” van Balen said.