It may have looked like a normal Gaithersburg City Council work session. City officials and residents gathered as usual at city hall. But their meeting room was a bus and their agenda was a look into the future -- to a time when developers envision a community park, a new school, homes, boutiques and fine dining along Sam Eig Highway and Fields Road, opposite Washingtonian Center and Rio.
About 30 people—including Mayor Sidney A. Katz and City Council members Jud Ashman, Cathy Drzyzgula, Michael A. Sesma and Ryan Spiegel—Monday took a guided bus tour of the progress on Gaithersburg's Crown Development.
Karl Alt, director of development for Sunbrook Partners Inc. (the master developer of Crown), served as the group's tour guide, highlighting six key locations, or neighborhoods, on the property:
- Downtown Crown, which will serve as the commercial core of the community.
- Crown West, residential neighborhood.
- Crown East, residential neighborhood.
- Crown Central, residential/mixed use neighborhood.
- "Neighborhood 4", unnamed and home of community park.
- "Neighborhood 6", unnamed and home of a future high school.
"Everyone always sees Crown at the 100-foot level," Alt said. "You don't really get to see what 180 acres looks like from the ground."
Downtown Crown will feature 260,000 square feet of commercial retail space, according to Krista Di Iaconi of JBG Rosenfeld Retail. JGBR and the Bozzuto Group acquired 20 acres of land from Sunbrook Partners for $28 million last week.
A Harris Teeter and LA Fitness—along Sam Eig Highway—will account for approximately 90,000 square feet (34.6 percent) of Downtown Crown's retail space, with another 40,000 square feet in lease negotiations with multiple restaurants, Di Iaconi said, including sit-down, fine dining as well as fast, casual.
Di Iaconi is also in progress of recruiting multiple fashion retailers for Downtown Crown.
"Downtown Crown is a size that presents itself to, we don’t like to use the term 'lifestyle retail' anymore, but to a true mix of retail including your everyday services you need such as your grocery store, drycleaner, etc., but also fashion, boutiques and gift stores," she said.
JGBR should be able to make an announcement regarding the restaurants in four weeks and the fashion retailers by the end of 2012, Di Iaconi said.
The Crown West neighborhood, located along Fields Road and Decoverly Drive, will feature 339 townhomes and 59 single-family homes, Alt said, serving as the primary residential area of Crown Farm. Additional multi-family homes are set to be built along Diamondback Drive.
See above images for additional information about each of the tour's six stops on Crown Farm, including in the tour map.
Many of those future residents won't have to travel far to find work, Alt said.
"[One] thing that's great about Crown Farm is its proximity to Science City (Johns Hopkins University's proposed campus on Belward Farm) and Johns Hopkins University [Montgomery County Campus]," Alt said. "We see that as a great asset, with thousands of jobs for residents."
According to Rob Robinson of the Gaithersburg Planning Department, everything planned by JBGR and Bozzuto, with the exception of Harris Teeter and one additional stand-alone site, has final site plan approval and can go to building permits.
Model homes are expected to be completed by the end of 2012 and lots will go on sale immediately after, Alt said. A goal of having the homes built by January or February of 2014 has been set along with the development's grand opening in spring 2014, according to Di Iaconi.
Related Coverage: Report: Crown Farm Site Sold for $28M (July 18, 2012)