Evan Goldman has been drawing, designing and building since he was a 5-year-old.
At 10, he was designing imaginary hotels. At 12, he was drawing to-scale maps of every state, planning hypothetical locations for roads and stores.
“My family jokes that my first word was ‘colonial,’” he said.
Goldman, now vice president of development for Federal Realty Investment Trust of Rockville, is in the midst of tackling his latest project, the redevelopment of Mid-Pike Plaza in North Bethesda, whose groundbreaking took place Monday. The 24-acre development, named Pike & Rose for its location at the intersection of Montrose Road and Rockville Pike, will be nine blocks of retail, office and residential space anchored by a high-end movie theater.
Goldman joined Federal Realty in 2008 from Holladay Corp. of Washington, D.C. Earlier, he was vice president of design for LeRoy Adventures and an associate for Tishman Speyer Properties. He also worked for BBG Architects after college.
It was at BBG, he said, that he had a “pivotal moment.” A client wanted to convert its office building into a Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and Goldman was one of the designers working on the project. He and the other designers spent six months planning the hotel design, only to have the client pull out.
“As an architect, you start living the project — breathing it, loving it — but you’re not in control,” Goldman said. “That’s when I knew I wanted to go into real estate development.”
Goldman had prepared for this change of heart: He couldn’t decide whether he wanted to focus on business or architecture in college, so he applied only to schools that offered both. He earned a bachelor’s in design and environmental analysis from Cornell University’s School of Human Ecology, and later a master’s of business administration in real estate and finance from the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania.
His studies serve him as a member of both the management committee and the advisory board of the Urban Land Institute in Washington.
Goldman said he worked closely with community leaders to plan Pike & Rose, conducting marketing surveys and meeting with area residents to hear their concerns about the project.
“He spent a lot of nights out, a lot of nights in people’s living rooms, getting to know the community,” said Don Briggs, Federal Realty’s senior vice president of development. “He’s very energetic about meeting people, and that was a major asset for this project.”
"He’s got the complete package," said Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda. "He has the complete set of skills I would want in a stakeholder: intelligence, integrity, good judgment and an understanding of the need for community involvement.”
Growing up in Rockland County, N.Y., just north of New York City, Goldman gained an understanding of urbanism that he’s tried to translate into his development projects. He won the 2012 Livable Communities Leadership Award for his transit-oriented development plan in North Bethesda’s White Flint, and he said he aims to make Pike & Rose pedestrian- and community-friendly, with plenty of outdoor spaces.
With three children of his own, he also takes families’ needs into account. He’s thinking of adding climbable art to the new development, like the “very successful” life-size chessboard in a Federal Realty development in California, he said.
“As I’m designing, I definitely think about what it’s like to go shopping, and how miserable it is when the kids have nothing to do,” he said.
Goldman has taught his children — Zoe, 6; Maya, 4; and Theo, 2 — a little bit about his work, but they’ve learned more by growing up in the Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington, D.C. There, they have “an incredibly diverse group of friends,” and they understand urbanism and community, he said.
He’s also influenced his wife, Amie: Since they married, Goldman said, she’s become a “complete urbanite” who’s enthusiastic about recycling and composting.
Federal Realty, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, took a hit during the Great Recession: Its profit plunged to $103.9 million in 2009 from $195.1 million in 2007, according to its regulatory filings. But it rebounded, at least somewhat, to a profit of $149.6 million last year. Its first-quarter profit this year was $44.1 million; at March 31, its assets totaled $3.67 billion.
Its resilience is due in large part to careful planning: It tends to focus on projects in affluent areas, and diversifies its tenants to avoid significant problems if a company goes bankrupt, Goldman said.
Still, plans change often during the development process to accommodate tenants’ needs, Goldman said.
“Every single second is ordered chaos,” he said. “This is not a job if you can’t deal with change.”
Goldman hopes to model Pike & Rose after the success of Federal Realty’s downtown Bethesda Row development.
“Before redevelopment, Bethesda was a sand-and-gravel pit,” Goldman said. “Now, everyone thinks of Barnes & Noble as the center of Bethesda. The redesign of Bethesda Row created a community.”
Through the extensive outreach during the planning of Pike & Rose, Goldman got to know that community, he said, and he plans to maintain a close relationship, as Federal Realty has earned the trust of local residents.
“Pike & Rose will take 10 to 15 years to build, in addition to the several years of planning,” he said. “You get very attached to the people in the area. I know their lives, I know their kids. They know my life and my kids. You get a real sense of community.”