Sixty-three acres off Perry Parkway in Gaithersburg could eventually become a sprawling town center, with 15-story skyscrapers for residences and offices and public plazas.
That is, if the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair moves.
Since 1949, the fair has drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors to the land at 16 Chestnut Street to see a cornucopia of farm animals and enjoy the midway’s attractions.
Montgomery County Agricultural Center, Inc., the nonprofit that owns and operates the fairgrounds, asked the mayor and city council Monday to rezone the land from industrial and light residential to mixed-use development.
While the agricultural center is not currently pursuing selling the land, it wants to do its due diligence by putting the land in the right perspective for the future, according to Marty Svrcek, executive director of the agricultural center.
If the property is rezoned it will become more valuable, for future financing and development, according to attorney Jim Clifford, who represented the agricultural center at the Monday work session.
In January, the grounds and buildings were assessed at $14.4 million, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.
Clifford presented to city officials a revised sketch plan for the site that included 1,100 to 1,350 residences and 800,000 to 1.15 million square feet of commercial space.
Revisions from when the plan was last presented to city officials in February 2011 include more defined neighborhoods, with an urban, commercial feel and taller buildings at the northern end, and a residential, historic feel at the southern end.
The changes reflect the vision that was created by residents in the Citizen’s Plan for Frederick Avenue, presented to city officials in July.
Richard Arkin, one of the residents who helped create the plan, said Monday it is striking how consistent the new sketch plan was with their plan.
“I’m really pretty excited about this approach, personally,” Arkin told city officials.
The public is invited to send city officials written comments about the rezoning until May 10. Elected officials will hold a policy discussion in June.
The agricultural center has been planning possible futures for the fairgrounds since 2006, after years of declining revenue and expensive upkeep of the barns and buildings on the land.
The fairgrounds’ current approach is to make improvements to the existing structures on the land, so that the fair can continue, Svrcek said Tuesday.