- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2007

Germantown‘s downtown would become more of a town center linking transit, entertainment, housing and business under a proposal Montgomery County urban planners presented at a public meeting this week.

Montgomery County is amending its 20-year plan for Germantown to control sprawl, or the tendency of the community to spread out in a haphazard way.

“The theme here is to provide mixed-use centers within walking distance of transit,” said Brooke Farquhar, park planner for Montgomery County.

The meeting at the Upcounty Services Center in Germantown Tuesday drew more than 30 city officials, developers and concerned citizens.

Many of them asked about schedules for completing the proposals and how housing density would change.

A plan developed by the county in 1989 has been guiding development until now.

“Now we’re updating it,” said Valerie Berton, spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Planning Board.

The ‘89 plan covered 11,000 acres that included downtown Germantown and surrounding residential areas. The new amendments would focus on the roughly 2,000 acres of the city center, but not change residential planning.

“We feel that the majority of Germantown is residential in character and doesn’t need a second look for the next 10-plus years,” said Sue Edwards, I-270 Corridor team leader for the Montgomery County Planning Department. “The areas we want to concentrate on are the town center and the areas along I-270 and Maryland 355.”

Unlike the original 1989 plan, the new proposals would concentrate development around public transit stations and the existing Maryland Commuter Rail station.

The county would use zoning codes to make it easier for developers to build housing and offices near transit stations.

Other proposals would mix housing, offices, retail and entertainment in the downtown area to a greater degree than the 1989 master plan. The county also would try to link bike paths, walkways and parks.

The Montgomery County Planning Board is to consider the proposals next month.

Lockheed Martin plans to hold its opening ceremony tomorrow for a new building in Chantilly for 600 employees.

The building, called Stonegate II, is the second of three buildings developer Opus East is building for Lockheed at 15052 Conference Center Drive. They are being used for government contract work.

The 145,300-square-foot building includes a 220-seat auditorium and conference facilities. It is part of the Westfields Corporate Center, which Lockheed Martin describes as the heart of its Chantilly operations.

Boston Properties said it sold the three-building Democracy Center complex in Bethesda to investors represented by Prudential Real Estate Investors.

The 20-year-old office complex covers 688,493-square-feet of space along Interstate 270. Its current tenants come from the hospitality, financial services and real estate industries. The new owners do not plan to change the use of the buildings.

Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail. tramstack@washingtontimes.com.

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