- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2006

Rockville is a gateway to international business. The city’s strategic location next to Washington provides businesses with access to federal agencies, international organizations and embassies.

The Montgomery County community has completed two of five major developments mixing residential, retail, entertainment and office space. Rockville occupies 13.03 square miles, and a major portion of the Interstate 270 corridor is within the city’s corporate limits, creating a residential community and an employment center where median home values have reached $403,488, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Home buyers will find a variety of housing styles, prices and neighborhoods from midrise condominiums to Victorian homes, from contemporary to traditional styles.

When one of Europe’s leading space, defense and transportation companies took on the task of searching nationwide for a suitable home for its U.S. subsidiary, Rockville landed the company.

“We are delighted to have located our offices in Rockville, along the high-tech corridor,” says Luis Mayo, CEO of the Madrid-based Grupo GMV. “We believe that this location makes good business sense and will allow for future growth of the company.”

Some 100 international companies are located in Montgomery County. For Rockville, the launching of new companies and the expansion of established businesses translates into an increased tax base and revenue.

The Maryland Municipal League reports that Rockville is the fifth largest city in Maryland and one of the state’s oldest, dating to Colonial America. Rockville was known as Hingerford’s Tavern, the name of its most familiar landmark.

When Montgomery County was formed by a division of Frederick County in 1776, Hingerford’s Tavern became the county seat and gradually became known as Montgomery Court House. In 1801, the Maryland General Assembly changed the name to Rockville because of its close proximity to Rock Creek.

Rockville remained small in its early years. By 1900, the population had risen to 1,110, and in 1940, the city limits were expanded and the population reached 2,047. During the next 40 years, Rockville grew quickly. By 1980, Rockville’s population was nearly 45,000.

Rockville’s historical and architectural value are nationally recognized: Its entire West Montgomery Avenue Historic District, the B&O; Railroad Station, Old St. Mary’s Church and cemetery, Wire Hardware Co., Dawson Farm and the Bringham-Brewer House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Even though Rockville borders the I-270 Technology Corridor, it has maintained its small-town charm with four historic districts, brick sidewalks, mature trees and a Victorian county seat.

Rockville is a diversified community with a variety of neighborhoods, cultural arts, retail areas and high-tech and bio-tech companies.

Rockville also hosts a vibrant community of international scientists working at federal laboratories, as well as officials from international organizations and embassies.

There are three institutions of higher learning within the I-270 corridor — the Montgomery campus of Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland at Shady Grove and Montgomery College.

Ten of Rockville’s largest private employers are situated along the I-270 corridor and provide more than 6,500 jobs.

Nine major shopping centers give Rockville residents big-city convenience. Two of the three largest shopping centers are in the Rockville Pike corridor at Congressional Plaza and Congressional North. The third largest is Fallsgrove Village Center in Rockville’s Town Center.

Rockville has 58 public parks, nine community recreation centers and a civic center park complex on 153 acres with a 500-seat F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater and RedGate Golf Course.

Montgomery County’s Department of Economic Development offers assistance to international companies wanting to locate in the county. They offer site and building assistance, professionals to offer financial incentives, expedition of the permit process, expertise in areas such as immigration, incorporation and relocation services, ongoing additional training and grants for exporting goods.

“The world lives in Montgomery County,” says Bernadette Musselwhite, business development specialist for Montgomery County’s Department of Economic Development (DED).

“DED provides information about international schools, community and cultural organizations to help relocated employees enjoy their new areas to the fullest,” she says.

Traveling around the I-270 corridor is possible without a car — there are six Metro stations and dozens of stops on the Ride-On bus line.

Three projects are under development in Rockville: the Preserve at Tower Oaks, Town Center and Twinbrook Commons.

The Preserve at Tower Oaks is an 84-acre office site. The first of several buildings, a seven-story office building with 178,000 square feet, is completed. A second office building, One Preserve Parkway, is planned. Also planned are a 300-room hotel, retail, entertainment and hiking and biking trails. The park can accommodate an additional 900,000 square feet.

Town Center is a redevelopment of the city’s central business district, a public/private partnership. The 15-acre area will include retail, restaurant, entertainment, residential, office space and Rockville Regional Library.

Twinbrook Commons is a live-work-play community planned for a 26-acre site adjacent to the Twinbrook Metro station. This transit-oriented Village Center will encompass a mix of uses, including multifamily residential, retail, restaurant and commercial-office.

With a focus on public transportation, the development will include upgrading of the Twinbrook Metro facilities and supporting pedestrian network.

Rockville’s King Farm, a national model for urban planning, provides space for living, working, shopping and recreation. The mixed-use community’s 430-acres consist of Irvington Centre, a 90-acre commercial centerpiece of King Farm, featuring several million square feet of office space, restaurants and other business support services.

It is an urban atmosphere in a suburban setting with easy access to I-270 and Shady Grove Metro station.

The Village Center offers 120,000 square feet of retail space in the heart of King Farm. The shopping center is within walking distance of King Farm’s residential and commercial developments.

King Farm’s two residential villages, Watkins Pond and Bailey’s Common, feature single-family homes, town houses, condominiums and luxury apartments in a neo-traditional design that won an award from the American Institute of Architects.

The residential communities are intertwined with natural areas, including a 12-acre park at the center of the Watkins Pond neighborhood.

Developed by the city of Rockville, the park features tennis and basketball courts, softball and soccer fields, playgrounds and picnic areas.

At King Farm Village Center, single-family homes sell from the low $400,000s; town homes start in the low $200,000s.

Fallsgrove is a 250-acre mixed-use neighborhood development. The Fallsgrove Village Center includes 136,000 square feet of retail space, restaurants and office space.

Surrounding the Village Center is a diverse mix of residential units, including single-family homes, town houses and low- and midrise multifamily residential buildings. The mixed-use community includes the Fallsgrove Village Office Center, a three-story office development with 75,000 square feet.

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