This story was corrected on March 21, 2012. An explanation follows the story.
The developer of a planned high-rise apartment building is concerned an alternative plan for redevelopment in Wheaton’s Central Business District could weaken the impact of the project.
On March 12, the Planning, Housing and Economic Development committee recommended downsizing County Executive Isiah Leggett’s proposed Wheaton redevelopment project. Under Leggett’s plan, the county would devote part of its $42 million subsidy to building a platform above the bus bays. Developer B.F. Saul would build a hotel and multiple office buildings with retail on top of it, followed by more office, residential and a town square development on Lot 13.
The PHED committee endorsed a new proposal that would include no county funding for development on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority bus bays. It would put $55 million toward building county-owned office buildings and a town square on Lot 13.
“I think the success of the redevelopment of downtown Wheaton is dependent on the redevelopment of the current bus lot,” said Mark Rivers, senior vice president of Los Angeles-based Lowe Enterprises.
Lowe Enterprises bought the five-story Computer Building on Georgia Avenue across from the bus bays in September with the intention of converting it into a 14-story, 200-unit apartment building that would serve as a compliment to the county’s project. Lowe has submitted its sketch plan application to the county, Rivers said.
“It certainly affects our thinking. I would remain concerned about how the redevelopment of the bus lot gets accomplished,” Rivers said. “I just don’t see what the plan is if those funds are redirected.”
PHED committee members George Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park and Mark Elrich (D-At large) of Takoma Park argued Leggett’s project was too risky without the guarantee that the bus platform office buildings would be leased. They, along with PHED committee Chair Nancy Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park, agreed the smaller-scale project still would address the need for workers in Wheaton during the day while providing the downtown area with a central destination.
Washington Property Company Senior Vice President Daryl South said the competing proposals will have no influence on his company’s plans to start construction on 221 apartments on the site of the First Baptist Church of Wheaton by the end of 2012.
“Either of the two plans being considered by the county will bring new jobs, so either option is a big plus for downtown,” South said.
The County Council was scheduled to discuss the Wheaton Redevelopment Project on Tuesday, but that work session was delayed.
email@example.comThis story was corrected to amend the number of units planned for the Lowe Enterprises development.