Planning Board Offers Positive Response to Idea of Putting Housing on Westfield Montgomery Site

Shopping center owners asked for change that could help them build multi-family housing


Published:

Via Westfield Montgomery

Montgomery County planners are receptive to a proposed zoning code change that could enable Westfield Montgomery mall owners to build homes on their property.

Though owners of the Bethesda mall haven’t submitted any project proposals, they have talked about building multifamily housing near the corner of Westlake Terrace and Westlake Drive, a Montgomery County Planning Department staff member said Thursday.

The change under consideration by the Planning Board would clarify that housing is allowed in the regional shopping center overlay zone, which covers Westfield Montgomery mall and Westfield Wheaton in Silver Spring. While the underlying zoning that falls over these two sites already permits housing, a second zoning layer that applies to the areas doesn’t specifically allow it, according to planning staff. The proposed amendment would clarify that apartment or condo buildings of up to 150 feet tall would be permitted.

The possibility of homes at shopping center sites came up at Thursday’s board meeting during a discussion of the Rock Springs Master Plan, a long-range growth document for the 535-acre area that includes Westfield Montgomery. 

“I think it would be wonderful, in fact, fantastic if they would build residential on this site. Or in Wheaton, for that matter,” board Chairman Casey Anderson said.

However, he wanted to get away from the classic model of a “big, indoor mall in the middle of a sea of parking” and asked staff to consider some plan language steering Westfield developers away from that approach.

The board will review a final draft of the Rock Springs plan March 30.

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