The former Giant Food site, a long-abandoned eyesore in Rockville Town Center, could be transformed into a vibrant mix of shopping, offices and apartments under a plan the Rockville Planning Commission is scheduled to consider Wednesday night.
Chevy Chase-based JBG Companies is proposing to demolish the Giant building as early as spring, making way for a two-story office-retail building at 275 N. Washington St. The building would include a new home for the Bank of America branch presently located at 255 N. Washington St.
The commission also will consider JBG’s proposal to divide the 3.14-acre site into two parcels. The parcel along North Washington Street would be home to the 25,100-square-foot office-retail building, with the bank, retail and/or a restaurant on the ground floor, 13,600 square feet of office space on the second floor and underground parking for 48 vehicles—a portion of the parking required for the project.
Construction would begin in summer, developers told residents at a Dec. 6 Rockville Community Coalition meeting, Rockville resident Max van Balgooy wrote on his “Max for Rockville” blog.
“The second lot is planned for luxury senior housing and will be sold to another company who has expertise in the these projects, and will require city approval,” van Balgooy wrote.
In 2008, the Planning Commission approved plans for Bank of America to install a trailer on the site to act as a temporary branch until the permanent branch could open.
With the economic recession transforming or killing some prospective projects, Town Center redevelopment was on hold for several years.
Now, with Reston, VA-based Duball LLC breaking ground in November on a hotel, residential and retail project across East Middle Lane from the future Choice Hotels International headquarters in Rockville Metro Plaza II, the downtown district’s long-awaited rebirth is on again.
The building at 275 North Washington Street would be a first step toward the second phase of Town Center redevelopment, creating a needed complement to the Rockville Town Square retail, restaurant and residential district.
The project would be “a catalyst” for new residential projects, public spaces, street-level retail, wide sidewalks and road connections, JBG said in a news release.
“We are fortunate to have strong support from neighbors and businesses alike who have long been asking for renewed vigor in this part of downtown Rockville,” Anthony Greenberg, JBG’s vice president of development said in the release. “Redeveloping this property is an excellent opportunity to add to the vitality of the city’s downtown and we believe we have the right concept for this site.”
Several of the nine conditions of project approval recommended by city staff concern utility easements and future road rights-of-way to better tie the property in with already-developed sections of Town Center.
“Master planner Cooper Carry and a renowned landscape architecture firm will take a holistic approach to the entire property to ensure it links to neighboring communities and fits within the fabric of Rockville,” JBG said in the news release.
JBG plans to work with the city to extend Maryland Avenue through the property, linking the new development just north of Beall Avenue to Town Square, Greenberg said. A park area and new street-level retail would border the Maryland Avenue extension, he said.
A new east-west road would bisect the property, "creating a more pedestrian-friendly grid of streets and wider sidewalks," the release said.
Residents have asked questions about traffic, parking, green space and building height, as well as how the project will tie in with Town Square, van Balgooy wrote in November.
“Residents and businesses are anxious to learn about this project because as the first project in Town Center II, it sets the pace for the rest of the development,” he wrote.
Read more Rockville Patch coverage of Rockville Town Center redevelopment: