Meeting With Kimco Results in ‘Cautious Optimism’

DPZ and Michael Watkins Architect LLC created a street framework for Kentlands Market Square in 2016. Deep purple designates “A” street frontage, light purple designates “B” street frontage. Illustration | Michael Watkins Architect LLC

DPZ and Michael Watkins Architect LLC created a street framework for Kentlands Market Square in 2016. Deep purple designates “A” street frontage, light purple
designates “B” street frontage.
Illustration | Michael Watkins Architect LLC

Following the June 17 public hearing for a six-story multi-use building with structured parking proposed for Kentlands Market Square Block F, DPZ CoDesign/Kentlands town architect launched a petition seeking at least 150 signatures. The petition calls for design changes to Kimco Realty’s schematic development plan, SDP-8146-2019, that are supported by the Kentlands Citizens Assembly (KCA), the Lakelands Community Association (LCA), the Kentlands Historic Trust, the Kentlands Downtown Working Group and the Village at Kentland & Lakelands.

As of June 30, 340 had signed the petition. You can see the petition at www.change.org.

The six-story building will revitalize Block F, now a surface parking lot bounded by Kentlands Boulevard, Commerce Square Place, Center Point Way and a block of retail that includes Buca di Beppo and the U.S. Post Office. The building will include 245 residential apartments, consisting of 14 studios, 127 one-bedroom units, 96 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units in a six-story, three-elevator building. Fifteen percent or 37 units will be designated affordable housing. Ground-floor retail will occupy 12,150 square feet. A structured garage will offer 576 parking spaces—341 spaces will be for residential and 235 for retail.

A letter signed by the KCA, LCA, Kentlands Historic Trust, the Kentlands Downtown Working Group and the Village at  Kentlands & Lakelands that is now part of the city’s public record expressed general support for the building, as “it will boost our long-term economic and social viability.”

But at issue are the building’s unlined parking garage and its 40- to 50-foot service access and parking entries along Center Point Way that are not in keeping with a New Urbanist walkable community and don’t support three-sided architecture, as well as the building’s overall architecture with its undulating, vertically articulated façades and variety of materials.

The letter stressed that community support for the project would be contingent on detailed modifications.

On June 27, Caren Garfield, Kimco director of development for the Mid-Atlantic region, and Greg Reed, Kimco vice president of development, met with Marina Khoury, Kentlands town architect and DPZ partner, and Mike Weich, DPZ CoDesign senior project manager, to discuss design changes.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Khoury said.

“We’ve unofficially agreed on a compromise,” Weich said.

“That they are now exploring to see if they’re feasible,” Khoury added.

Per city procedure, building architecture can’t be considered until final site plan phase. Discussion instead touched on “A” and “B” street designations and the city’s 2008 master plan guidelines that “show a building with parking that’s lined on three sides,” Khoury said.

The city told Kimco to prioritize Kentlands Boulevard over Center Point Way, Khoury said, which is wrong for Kentlands Downtown. In fact, she said, city staff designated Center Point Way an “A” street until it reaches the movie theater; then it becomes a “B” street.

Khoury feels this is not good planning. Lakelands residents use Center Point Way to walk to Kentlands Market Square—and according to the approved Kentlands Market Square sketch plan, another six- or four-story multi-use building is envisioned for Block G or the surface parking lot on the other side of Center Point Way near Pacifica Café.

Khoury hopes that the city will either use the street framework created by DPZ and Michael Watkins Architect LLC in 2016 or come up with its own, “so we’re not always having a discussion of what’s an ‘A’ street and what’s a ‘B’ street.”

When asked for comment, Garfield said that due to the recent nature of Kimco’s meeting with DPZ CoDesign, “I am not yet in a position to provide additional feedback.”

Kimco should submit a revised plan to the city by Tuesday, July 16, Weich said. This will be posted to the city’s projects page, www.gaithersburgmd.gov/government/projects-in-the-city/kimco-market-square-block-f.

The Planning Commission record will remain open until 5 p.m. on July 31 with a recommendation to the Mayor and City Council tentatively scheduled for Aug. 7. The Mayor and City Council record will remain open until 5 p.m. on Aug. 14 with a policy discussion tentatively scheduled for Sept. 3.

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