Recap - The Office Market Assessment Report and Implications for Upcoming Master Plans

Posted Date: 
December 8, 2015

Guest Speaker: Gwen Wright, Director, Montgomery County Planning Department Development
Topic: The Office Market Assessment Report and Implications for Upcoming Master Plans

December 8, 2015 Recap  

The vice-chair of the Infrastructure and Land Use Committee, Gus Bauman of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., welcomed MCCC members and welcomed back to the Chamber the guest speaker, Gwen Wright, Director of the Montgomery County Planning Department

The Planning Department commissioned the study on the regional office market which was made available last summer. It has sparked a great deal of conversation and has direct impact on master plans that are currently underway.

As outlined in the power point presentation, the goals of the study were:

  • Analyze trends in depth
  • Quantify impacts, outlook – not just anecdotal
  • Identify best practices
  • Recommend tangible land use and related strategies

The combination of lower demand for office space post-recession (including leased space by the Federal government) and new space being added despite slowdown has contributed to rising vacancy. 

Today’s knowledge-workers – whatever their age – vote with their feet and want transit accessible, mixed used, sustainable buildings. Employers are looking for less space but space that is full of amenities.

A recent Urban Land Institute Technical Advisory Group met to discuss the Rock Spring master plan. They had four major conclusions. To be successful, the area must:

  • Have a Diversity of Uses
  • Be Accessible to Transit
  • Be Amenity Rich
  • Have a Unique Identity

All this input provides the Planning Department with important information as they prioritize development going forward.  Flexibility will be important in terms of zoning, the spaces themselves and the variety of uses.

Ms. Wright shared that the County Executive has embraced much of this information and has formed his own Office Vacancy Task Force which will be issuing a report soon.  There are also a few members of the County Council who understand the issue.

This will be important in the coming year as the Subdivision Staging Policy (previously known as the Growth Policy) gets updated.

Some of the issues, such as standing and entitlement, are actually Maryland state issues and we should look to the Montgomery County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly to work to update these regulations.

Ms. Wright distributed an infographic with key findings from the study.  For a copy of the infographic and the power point presentation, please contact Ilaya Hopkins at ihopkins@mcccmd.com. 

For upcoming MCCC Member Exchange Meetings, click here.

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