PPP Project Transforms Wheaton
Seeking to consolidate seven county agency offices and revitalize Wheaton’s downtown area, leaders of Montgomery County, MD saw an opportunity to redevelop an under-utilized property containing a small surface parking lot and dilapidated community center.
To capitalize on the site’s proximity to an existing Metro stop, the County pulled in a local developer to create a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). Together, the team devised a plan to transform the tired site into a 14-story office building with ground-floor retail, an underground parking garage, an urban park with an amphitheater and plaza, and enhanced pedestrian access to the Metro station.
As a PPP, the Wheaton Revitalization project required extensive coordination between many stakeholders, community members, and agency staff. In addition, the design team was held to a strict timeline to move seven county agencies, including the largest – the Maryland National Capital Park & Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) – to the new location. As part of the project, the M-NCPPC’s prior office space was turned over to the developer for a future residential project.
The site’s antiquated infrastructure triggered substantial off-site public water and sewer improvements, while a portion of the property encroached into environmentally sensitive areas. This led Bohler to organize extensive design and coordination meetings with the project team. Collaborating with multiple agencies throughout the process, the team devised a plan to remove old pipes, replace them with new water and sewer mains, and add more fire hydrants.
To keep the project moving forward, coordination was critical. Bohler navigated communication complexities, including:
Aligning PPP stakeholders: With multiple team members weighing in from each of the seven agencies, Bohler kept agency players, the developer, and all consultants on the same page by leading frequent coordination meetings throughout the entire process.
Extra scrutiny on the plans: Since the same agencies benefiting from the project were responsible for review and approval of plans, there was strategic focus on accuracy and adherence to protocol to minimize conflict of interest challenges. To accomplish nearly perfect plan sets, Bohler implemented its routine quality control (QC) process, which exceeds industry norms and includes kick-off and milestone meetings, three internal QC checkpoints, and principal-level involvement throughout the process.
Addressing community concerns: To ease neighbor concerns about potential construction disruption to local businesses, Bohler mobilized, speaking one-on-one with owners to create a positive response to the revitalization project throughout the community.
Staying on Track
Driven by a deadline for the agencies to vacate current spaces, the project team adhered to an aggressive schedule. During the design phase, Bohler engaged additional resources on the project to meet milestones and maintain momentum. Throughout construction and in daily construction administration coordination, Bohler remained accessible to meet on site and answer field questions.
Revitalizing a Community
While the project served to consolidate Montgomery County agencies and provide M-NCPPC with a new headquarters, the Wheaton Revitalization ultimately transformed the neighborhood. Bringing the community together with new retail options, an urban park, and outdoor music venue, the development also improved Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility and added approximately 300 public parking spaces.
Through upfront planning and effective coordination, what was once an old community center and parking lot is now a vibrant focal point for downtown Wheaton.
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