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Town Center Hotel, Residential and Retail Project Moving Forward

Montgomery County Executive Leggett announced a request for $4.16 million in aid from the county and City of Rockville to build the mixed-use project.

 

Montgomery County and Rockville officials on Monday announced a request for a $4.16 million economic development grant to support construction of two mixed-use high-rise towers featuring a hotel, residences and street level retail space in Rockville Town Center. 

The county aid to Reston, VA-based Duball LLC would help bring 485-multifamily homes, a 140-room Cambria Suites hotel and 40,000 square-feet of street level retail to what is now the Regal Cinemas parking lot at East Middle Lane and Monroe Street. The project’s cost is about $100 million.

“It is a project that I think is long overdue,” County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said.

The parking lot where the project is planned is across the street from the future Choice Hotels International headquarters in Rockville Metro Plaza II. That project, which broke ground last August, is rising above Middle Lane and Rockville Pike with the aid of a $2.8 million economic development grant from the county. Cambria Suites is a Choice Hotels brand that caters to frequent business travelers and weekend leisure travelers.

About $980,000 from the City of Rockville is included in the grant request, Leggett said.

“This is an exciting time for Rockville,” Leggett said. “It is an exciting time for Montgomery County. We are delighted to have Choice here and the expansion by its hotel and its headquarters. This will be a synergy of economic development tied to the ongoing development and the investment that the county and the city have made over the last few years.”

The project is expected to generate nearly $10.2 million in tax revenue for the county and nearly $3.8 million in revenue for the city over the next 15 years, Leggett said.

Choice will move from Silver Spring when their new headquarters is complete. The estimated move-in date is April.

“Retaining a major industry leader like Choice and its nearly 400 jobs was a top priority for me and our Department of Economic Development,” Leggett said.

“A hotel is an ideal use of this property,” said County Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg, who represents Rockville. “And it will be a real boost—not only to the economy in terms of jobs, but to helping sustain the success of Town Center by helping to have more people use the restaurants and go to the shops, as well as stay right here in the heart of Rockville.”

Leggett plans to submit the grant request this week to the Montgomery County Council, which must approve the request.

The grant would include conditions requiring that county vendors account for at least 20 percent of the project cost and that the hotel open by 2016, The Gazette reported. The grant could be converted to a loan if the conditions are not met, The Gazette reported.

Redevelopment of the property “has been much anticipated,” since the demolishment of the old Rockville Mall in the early 1990s, said Rockville City Councilwoman Bridget Donnell Newton. 

The Duball project “will bring more activity and customers to all of our downtown, helping local businesses and restaurants and continuing to adhere to the Town Center Master Plan goal of making Maryland Avenue the prominent retail and entertainment street in Rockville,” Newton said.

Duball representatives are scheduled to appear at the next Town Center Action Team meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 16 at City Hall. 

The city issued permits last week so that the project can begin “on or about Nov. 1,” said Duball President Marc Dubick. He called the county grant “vital for us.” 

The first phase will include about 263 residences, the hotel, and 17,000 square feet of street level retail plus public and private parking.

Forty of the residences will be moderately priced dwelling units with half of those initially marketed to residents 55 years old and older, Dubick said.

City council members said they are talking with developers about parking during the construction—a concern that residents who visit Town Center have raised. There are several public parking garages in Town Center, but the surface lot where the project will be developed is frequently near full with restaurant customers and moviegoers on evenings and weekends.

Developers “have worked it out so that there should be sufficient inventory of parking,” City Councilman John Hall said.

The project is required to have 120 spaces available during construction, Hall said. As many as 150 spaces could be available, he said.

When the two towers are complete, they are to include approximately 1,000 parking spaces.

The council also will be working with staff to ensure that construction traffic uses main roads such as Gude Drive and Maryland 355 rather than residential streets such as West Montgomery Avenue and Great Falls Road, Newton said.

Theresa Defino October 10, 2012 at 12:46 AM
I believe the TCAT meeting is a 7 pm, not 6:30. Also, re, "About $980,000 from the City of Rockville is included in the grant request, Leggett said." When was this discussed and/or voted on?
Joseph Jordan October 10, 2012 at 04:19 AM
It sounds like the request for the grant just surfaced, and I doubt the City has approved it yet. I hope it doesn't end up being done in closed sessions like the deal for Choice Hotels was. Those concessions and grants were worked out between the City and County in executive sessions. Taxpayers should know the details of any such deals. The Choice Hotels deal could be seen as competitive, so there might have been legal grounds to discuss the grants in closed session. That is not the case with this project.
Theresa Defino October 10, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Thanks for the info, Joe. The timing is another very odd feature of this request. This project was planned for years and is well underway. This grant "request" is not part of an enticement package. Who asks for and receives money when they're already here? Is this some new strategy? Also, no one just wakes up one day and says, "I think I'll ask for a $4 million grant from my local governments." Clearly this was a well-thought-out request that had to have been planned for quite some time. Why is it being sprung on us now this way? I haven't heard it mentioned at any public meetings, say, in the city manager's report...or a TCAT meeting... That old question--what do people know about this and how long have they known it? And yes, when does it go before the Rockville Council for an official vote? Or...does it?
MoCoRes October 10, 2012 at 06:59 PM
So let me get this straight. The county is poised to offer $4.16 million to fund a private development firm's project? Yet, they somehow can't find the money to fund fifth elementary school in the Richard Montgomery cluster to relieve overcrowding? I understand the long-term benefits (alleged). But if times are so tough that they have to delay construction of a new school, which is desparately needed today, then they shouldn't have the money to support this project. Odd priortities for a county that prides itself on education.
Theresa Defino October 10, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Actually, it appears this was approved by the previous council. I think the wording of this being a "request" is imprecise. http://rockville.patch.com/articles/council-agenda-pumphrey-parking-lot-hearing-budget-briefing A cost of $164,000 to fund an agreement with Duball Rockville LLC. This is the first of six installments under an agreement between the city, the county and Duball. It will support Duball’s construction of a 384,897-square-foot building in Town Center that includes a Cambria Suites Hotel, residences and street level retail space in Town Center, according to a Jan. 30 staff report. The $984,000 from the city will supplement $3.18 million from Montgomery County.

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