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Planning Board OKs Preliminary Plans for Multi-Family Buildings in Milestone Office Park

The Montgomery County Planning Board approved the preliminary plans that would transform the existing Germantown office park into a mixed-use development by introducing up to 485 multi-family residential dwellings in three buildings and additional retail space.

The project, which was unanimously approved at the Planning Board meeting last Thursday, July 23, will be built on Milestone Center Drive, which is located just north of I-270 and west of Ridge Road in Germantown, between Ridge Road and Dorsey Mill Road. The office park is the current home of WeatherBug headquarters, and offices of URS and Digital Receiver Technology, among others.

The project, submitted by Frederick-based Matan Companies, under the applicant name W-M Milestone Holdings VII, LLC, calls for three seven-story buildings with 485 new dwelling units and 28,250 square-feet of retail space.

One building would be erected between two existing office buildings on Milestone Center Drive and would be comprised of approximately 171,560 square feet of residential space or 154 units and 8,250 square feet of street level retail, according to planning documents.

The other two seven-story buildings will be located at the western end of the complex and feature a pedestrian bridge on the second floor to allow residents to access the swimming pool located on the lot of the northern building. All the buildings are designed as “podium” style structures consisting of two-story bases with five stories above, according to documents filed with Planning Board.

One building will consist of 204,074 square feet of residential, or 192 units and 10,000 square feet of street level retail, while the other will be comprised of 156,051 square feet of residential or 139 units and 10,000 square feet of street-level retail.

To gain approval, the applicant must provide that12.5 percent of the residential units will be “moderately priced dwelling units.

The site is located along two of the proposed routes for the Corridor Cities Transitway, which the State of Maryland first proposed in 2012. The transitway is a 15-mile Bus Rapid Transit line that would run from Shady Grove Metro Station in Gaithersburg to Clarksburg, along a route that would run parallel to the proposed MD-355 Corridor BRT network. The CCT is not yet part of the County’s FY15 –FY20 Capital Improvements Program.

In April, the Planning Board received an initial briefing on a proposed new bridge over I-270, which would run just to the north of the proposed residential/retail project in Milestone Center Drive. The Dorsey Mill Road bridge, which has been part of the master plan for Germantown since 2009, will connect Century Boulevard on the west side of I-270 with Observation Drive on the east side.

The project also calls for the existing 63,000 square-foot plazas on the campus will be transformed from a formal space to an informal multi-use space. This centrally located space will include an interactive water fountain, a kiosk, seat walls, lawn areas and other features to create an attractive gathering space for the project. The reconfigured open space area will be framed by two existing buildings and one of new building which will have retail and restaurants at the street level, helping to activate the space during daytime and nighttime hours, according to Planning Board documents.

The project will require a reconstructing of Milestone Center Drive from Milestone Center Court to Dorsey Mill Road to improve the overall circulation and enhance pedestrian connections. Milestone Center Drive will be converted into four lanes with on-street parking, sidewalks, a landscaped median, pedestrian-orientated lighting and a proposed landscaped roundabout.

According to the plans, there is a bus stop in each direction on Milestone Center Drive that provides direct transit service to the site. As part of this application, the Matan Companies will work with Montgomery County Ride-On to upgrade the bus stops with shelters and move the stops as needed to provide to make the stops more convenient. A revised central open space also fronts onto Milestone Center Drive, a private road that runs through the middle of the site, and no buildings are more than 80 feet in height.

Patrick O'Neil, with a land use and zoning attorney at Lerch, Early & Brewer, spoke to the Planning Board on behalf of the Maten Companies, saying, “This is a sign of a commitment from Matan Companies to begin to transform office parks and properties in northern Montgomery County into vibrant 24/7 mixed-use communities. It is very exciting that they are doing so in a spot that was already a perfectly nice office park, but can be so more now with what they are proposing.”

Prior to approving the preliminary plan, Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson told the applicants, “If you guys deliver a project that looks like this when it is done, then you are welcome to do this in the southern part of Montgomery County, the eastern part, the western part, or the central part -- any part that you would like.”

Photo courtesy Montgomery County Planning Board and Matan Companies.