Westbrook Properties, the firm behind the Crown master-planned community now under construction in Gaithersburg, is packing a massive amount of development into a 182-acre suitcase.
We learned Tuesday that Westbrook and JBG Rosenfeld Retail have now folded the familiar Ted’s Bulletin and the Chicago-based Old Town Pour House(90 taps of specialty craft brews) into the project — a transformation of the former Crown Farm.
Within the four planned neighborhoods of Crown, there will be 2,200 units of housing — multifamily, townhome and single-family detached — and 320,000 square feet of retail, 15 acres of open space and a 32-acre parcel set aside for a future high school. It’s a walkable space (I walked just about the whole thing Tuesday), on top of a future Corridor Cities Transitway station and within a mile and a half of the Shady Grove Metro.
“It truly is an infill project,” said Robert Zeiller, Westbrook’s executive vice president. “It is not sprawl. Perhaps it’s even the anti-sprawl. The idea is to park your car and it stays in the garage.”
Think Bethesda, mid-county. That’s certainly what Westbrook and its long list of partners are going for. And retailers and restaurants are falling into place.
JBGR, which heads up retail leasing for Crown, has signed Ted’s Bulletin to a 5,300-square-foot, standalone restaurant space adjacent to Crown Park (the park is expected to open in six to eight weeks). Old Town Pour House, a concept from the Chicago-based Bottleneck Management, will take the space formerly leased to La Tagliatella, also adjacent to the park.
“We do believe this will be the dining destination for the mid-Montgomery County area, much like Bethesda has been for the outskirts of D.C.,” said Krista Di Iaconi, principal with JBGR.
Roughly 75 percent of the Downtown Crown retail is leased, Iaconi said, and several stores are already open, including Harris Teeter, Verizon, Starbucks, LA Fitness, and Downtown Crown Beer and Wine. Wells Fargo opens next week. A slate of major restaurants will open by October, to include Ted’s Bulletin, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (possibly August), Coastal Flats, Smashburger and the Old Town Pour House.
On the residential front, The Bozzuto Group is leasing the first of two Cadence multifamily buildings in Downtown Crown, with 537 units between them. Three townhome builders are on site now at Crown West — Pulte Homes, KB Home and M/I Homes. Fifty townhomes have closed and another 120-plus are, or will soon be, under construction.
“When you’re establishing a place out of the box, it’s always going to be a challenge,” Zeiller said. “But the demand’s been great.”
Principal Kenneth Wormald said his 50-year-old, family-led firm endured a tough vetting process and multiple architectural presentations before earning the nod to build Crown’s initial single family inventory. The Wormald homes will sit on lots of varying size, some with three-car garages, elevators and geothermal heating and cooling.
“To their credit, they’re really trying to raise the bar with this community,” Wormald said of Westbrook.
Wormald, founded in Potomac by Robert Wormald, left Montgomery County in the mid-1980s for Frederick, what Ken Wormald deemed a “big mistake.” The firm entered the Frederick market to develop a 1,500-home project, Worman’s Mill, which was a big success. But now they’re back, with what Zeiller described as “innovative designs” to ensure that every home either fronts a park or a treed backyard.
Crown will feed off of the future Science City at Belward Farm and other nearby commercial centers to fill its residential units and to support its retailers, Zeiller said. In may be a repurposed farm, he said, but “in the spirit of the Science Center, we wanted it to be cutting edge.”
“We want to be where those people live,” Zeiller said.