Tuesday, January 11, 2011

selling apartments with traffic, or the challenge of white flint

North Bethesda Market in White Flint is the newest and tallest apartment building in Montgomery County, rising nearly 300 feet over Rockville Pike. It'll eventually anchor a high-end retail complex of the same name that the developers compare to "traditional urban marketplaces", complete with "tree-canopied private streets" and a "plaza for outdoor activities." Until that happens, however, leasing agents have to rent apartments based on what White Flint is like today.

The building's website includes this time-lapse video of Rockville Pike at night, as seen from the top floor. It's mean to suggest urban vitality, but instead you just see lots and lots of headlights and taillights. Nobody should be surprised that there are lots of people driving on Rockville Pike, whose malls draw shoppers from throughout the region, most of whom arrive by car. But a video that looks like it was taken the day before Christmas sends the wrong message to potential renters who may want MoCo's answer to Dupont Circle. There's something missing.

Compare that video to this time-lapse footage of D.C. at night, featuring scenes in Georgetown and near McPherson Square. What's the difference? There are people on the street, which does much, much more to suggest the kind of lifestyle that planners and developers are striving to create in White Flint. But had the filmmaker at North Bethesda Market put their camera on the sidewalk instead of the roof, they still wouldn't have gotten images like this. At least, not until there's enough stuff and enough activity in the area to get people walking around.

With monthly rents starting at $1,500 for a studio apartment, North Bethesda Market has to draw tenants who can afford to live anywhere in Greater Washington. Selling an urban lifestyle is tough when the building's location doesn't yet compare to great urban neighborhoods in the region that are already hopping. A video of cars and traffic may have to suffice for now, but hopefully we'll see actual people on Rockville Pike soon.


hockeypunk said...

still a pretty cool video

Patrick said...

I wish White Flint the best of luck and hope it becomes a hotspot of urban vitality. But I agree with everything you said. It's not like that right now, and they aren't selling the place well.

I'd much rather live in Silver Spring or Bethesda or Alexandria or Arlington or DC. And for $1,500 a month for a studio, I could have my pick. Honestly, I would live anywhere North of Bethesda (outside of Rockville Townsquare) unless I had a job up there.

I'm quite curious to see how many people bite at these prices.

~Patrick Thornton

jag2923 said...

Agreed. I'll be rooting for White Flint...but not moving there anytime soon.