Construction begins on Olney retail center -- Gazette.Net


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Construction is underway on a new shopping center, a major piece in the redevelopment of the town center in Olney.

Paula and Danny Sayag’s project to build an 8,500 square-foot shopping center on Hillcrest Avenue in Olney is finally getting off the ground — literally.

The Sayegs, who have lived in the Olney-Brookeville community since 1989, began working on the project in 2005.

“It’s been a long haul,” said Paula Sayag. “In 2008, the recession hit, which threw businesses and threw banking, but we finally got back on track.”

Construction workers recently broke ground on the center that will consist of two buildings separated by a breezeway. Danny Sayag owns three salons — New Wave 11828 Rockville Pike in Rockville, New Wave at the Promenade at 5225 Pooks Hill Rd. in Bethesda, and Rainbow Salon at 11301 Rockville Pike in Kensington, as well U.S Beauty Supply Company.

He will open a new salon to occupy one of the buildings, and the other building, which is 4,500 square feet, could be leased by up to three different businesses.

“We’ve had a lot of interest, but our priority has been getting the permitting, banking and construction in order,” said Paula Sayag. “We know we can get those spots leased.”

The property, between the Olive childcare center and a private residence, falls under the Mixed-Use Town Center zoning implemented in the 2005 Olney Master Plan. This zoning encourages the redevelopment of the town center with a mix of development uses as a pedestrian-friendly focal point for Olney.

To help facilitate the redevelopment of the town center, the Master Plan established the Olney Town Center Advisory Committee. The committee is currently chaired by Helen Rosenheim and is made up of members from local civic organizations, homeowners associations, businesses and county agencies.

The Park and Planning Commission charged the committee with creating an illustrative concept plan, creating a concept for a civic center/town commons and reviewing development proposals for parcels within the town center before they are presented to the Montgomery County Planning Board.

The Sayag property is the first project the committee reviewed. They also worked with Safeway on their redevelopment project and are currently working with The Goddard School, an early childhood center to be built on Morningwood Drive near Georgia Avenue.

“We’ve worked with the Sayags for a number of years, and it has always been a good relationship,” said Rosenheim. “We were learning along with them.”

Paula Sayag said she agreed.

“They have been lovely and haven’t created any problems for us,” she said. “They kept in touch wanting to know what stage we were at, and were just happy that we proposed this development.”

Rosenheim said the concepts in the master plan were applied to the project.

As specified in the master plan, the two buildings will be close to the road with parking in the rear. The public-use space requirement will be met by installing a wider sidewalk in front and installing benches there and in the breezeway.

“We are excited that this project is moving ahead,” Rosenheim said. “In terms of the economy, this is a good thing and hopefully will spur other development.”

She said working with the Sayags, Safeway and The Goddard School has helped the committee to refine their process and will allow them to work even better with developers.

The new center, which has not yet been named, could be completed by the end of summer.

“This is a dream for Danny,” Paula Sayag said. “He’s always wanted to bring an upscale salon experience to Olney, and we are both excited to support the community.”

thogan@gazette.net