800 Units and Possibly Coliving + a Food Hall: The Pitch for a Prominent Wheaton Intersection

  • December 4th 2020

by Nena Perry-Brown

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"Wheaton Gateway" site. Click to enlarge.

New details are emerging for a multi-phase development slated for one of Wheaton's most prominent corners. 

The Duffie Companies, Willco, and the Housing Opportunities Commission are preparing to file a sketch plan application proposing three buildings on the 5.16-acre site on the west corner of University Boulevard W and Veirs Mill Road (map). Upon completion, the "Wheaton Gateway" development would have roughly 800 rental units and 75,000 square feet of commercial or retail space.

Site plan. Click to enlarge.

The first phase would be a C-shaped building delivering 325 units above 25,000 square feet of commercial space. While the developers have not yet determined the number of parking spaces, there will be both above- and below-grade parking throughout. The above-grade parking garage for the first phase would have decorative screening and would be configured to easily accommodate future adaptive reuse if needed.

Massing with phase one in foreground. Click to enlarge.

The second and third phases would replace the Lindsay Ford location (the Mattress Firm was razed a few months ago), and the latter would also have some townhouse-scale units facing East Avenue. Thirty percent of the residential units across the development will be moderately-priced dwelling units, and the project will also aim for Passive House certification. The development team is also in talks with Common to potentially provide a co-living component.

Massing with phase one in foreground; retail in orange, garage in gray. Click to enlarge.

A food hall may still be in the works for the ground floor of the first phase, although it is a bit early to confirm that.

"The retail sector right now is in significant flux, and if I said it was under strain, that would be an understatement," Shane Pollin of The Duffie Companies explained during a public meeting on the project on Thursday night. "Everybody knows that restaurants are having real challenges; all retail is having challenges. It's very possible that a use like a food hall that lowers the barrier to entry for restaurateurs to start into the restaurant business might just be what the doctor ordered, if you will, when folks come back and try to go into business."

Massing along Veirs Mill Road; click to enlarge.

The first phase will be accompanied by an interior street between Veirs Mill and East Avenue, which will provide a vehicular turn-around at the plaza. Because the grade changes significantly on the site, there will also be terraced stormwater management areas where the new street meets East Avenue, along with steps along the north end of the site that incorporate a runnel for bicyclists.

First phase massing with plaza, turnaround, and interior street. Click to enlarge.

The development will also include two-way bikeways along both University and Veirs Mill between the sidewalk and the streetscape trees. A bus-rapid transit stop is also expected to be installed on Veirs Mill toward the corner, and the development team may create a publicly-accessible "multi-age play area" across the street at Upton and East Avenues.

Aerial massing. Click to enlarge.

The development team is hoping to submit the sketch plan application to Montgomery County by the end of the year. More details are available here; in the meantime, the development team is planning to have a mural installed at the corner.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/800-apartments-and-an-adaptive-garage-proposed-for-one-of-wheatons-most-pro/17611.

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