Monday, October 20, 2008

what's up the pike: belt-tightening edition

North Bethesda Center, one of several new developments along the Other Pike.

- The Post has a two-part series on plans to redevelop Rockville Pike from a wonderland of strip malls into a string of urban centers that would rival Downtown Bethesda. In White Flint, where two large, mixed-use projects are already under construction, County planners envision 500-foot-tall buildings rising along the Other Pike. Councilmember Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring) says that East County residents shouldn't have to pay for the road and school improvements that the new development will demand when there are roads and schools to be built over here.

Should East County taxpayers pony up? Does a rising tide in Rockville lift ships in Silver Spring - or does it further exaggerate the divide between east and west? Hey, readers, I'm gonna cop out and ask: what do you think?

- Financing concerns have forced General Growth Properties to scrap a skating rink, a health club and actual brick on some buildings from their plans to redevelop the failed Laurel Mall. While "newly reconfigured" proposals for the mall - now called Laurel Commons - have already been approved, the city and Prince George's County have failed to deliver tax breaks which would have helped pay for some of the deleted features in the $450 million project. Boasting a sixteen-screen movie theatre, new high-end shops and an outdoor plaza, Laurel Commons was set to be finished in time for next Christmas, though it's now several mponths behind schedule.

- Commuter bus routes serving East County seem to be doing well enough that the Maryland Transit Administration's not going to cut them in a new round of budget-minded service changes. The 929 bus - which travels from Columbia to the District with stops in Burtonsville and Silver Spring - will only lose mid-day service, but the similarly-routed 915 will be unchanged. Meanwhile, four lines serving Baltimore's suburbs and two lines that feed into Metro stations in Prince George's County may go on the chopping block. The MTA will hold public hearings throughout the month of November to discuss the proposed changes, which are outlined on their website.


Mortis Olaf said...

The way I see it, if they're going to do all that in West County, east county should at least get some of the same treatment. Didn't post something about New Hampshire Ave being redeveloped in that fashion (sans the 500 foot tall buildings)?

Unknown said...

The only reason why this plan is on Rockville Pike is because of the Red Line. Notice how the County first focused on Bethesda, then on Downtown Silver Spring, then on downtown Rockville, while next up is Wheaton. This project is the next step to fill out the land around the Metro stations in the County with Transit Oriented Development. I presume that Glenmont will get similar treatment down the line.

I think that east county residents shouldn't be too concerned. Residents in the western half of the county already subsidize our services. We're all in this together and in the long run, having walkable urban places around all of our Metro stations will be good for everyone.

Thomas Hardman said...

As has been suggested loudly at every one of "Ike" Leggett's "town council" meetings since he took office, it does indeed seem that the East County is to be let to slide -- outside of DTSS -- and West County is to be given the world on a silver platter, probably with a nice side order of duck in plum sauce and some nice old cold champagne of a preferred vintage.

I guess we had all better get used to being from the wrong side of the tracks, the tracks being defined as the western leg of the Red Line.