Smart Growth advocates and supporters of dense, transit-based redevelopment of White Flint gathered in North Bethesda yesterday to mingle and discuss the large-scale changes coming to Rockville Pike in the next few decades.
In the crowd were neighbors, transit activists, developers, County Council members Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) and Hans Riemer (D-At large) and others from outside the White Flint area interested in the various projects that are estimated to bring 14,000 housing units and 13 million square feet of redevelopment around the White Flint Metro station.
Friends of White Flint’s Lindsay Hoffman described the event as a kick-off as sorts for a renewed push toward accomplishing the walkable, mixed-use town square communities that have become commonplace in planning circles and in the D.C. area.
The event was titled, “Can we make the suburbs hip? The future of White Flint,” an ode to the notion that urban centers are the future of development in Montgomery County.
“I really think that we are on the verge of a golden age in Montgomery County and it’s projects like this that are bringing that life,” Riemer told the gathering. “The region that we are in is a dynamic, growing, exciting region, one of the best destinations in the whole world, economically, culturally, socially. But we have to and we are positioning ourselves in that region to capture that future growth.”
Berliner said the development of White Flint, which includes mixed-use retail and residential projects at Mid-Pike Plaza, White Flint Mall, near the Metro station and other locations, shouldn’t be viewed as an indictment of the area’s established single family neighborhoods.
But he did say the county is depending on the change of thinking signaled by what’s going on in White Flint.
“I want you to know when I first used [the word hip] in talking about Montgomery County, people said, ‘I’m sorry, that’s not part of our lexicon,’” Berliner said. “I do want you to know that Montgomery County’s future in my judgement does in large part depend on being able to attract this kind of crowd, a young, energetic crowd.”