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Benefits from the White Oak Area Development

The five major changes to the White Oak area (see separate fact sheet) will benefit people in different ways depending upon their situation. The benefits are:

  1. Jobs: The new development will add thousands of jobs with varying skill levels in different industries: education - both related to life science fields and also a new public elementary school; life science research; nurses, doctors and others in the new hospital; restaurant workers; hotel and conference center workers; retail workers; various public and civic personnel; and general office employees.
  2. Quality housing: Viva White Oak and Hillandale will provide town houses and condos at various prices.
  3. Amenities: A wider range of additional restaurants and entertainment for the entire eastern part of the county will be provided.
  4. Reduction of Road Congestion. The jobs will provide a destination so that fewer people need to drive south of New Hampshire Ave on US29. Also BRT will provide a viable alternative to driving by providing non-congested transit routes that speed past the congestion that remains for autos. BRT will reduce auto congestion but not eliminate it. Without these changes peak workday congestion is forecast to be 14 hours per work day by 2030.
  5. Lifestyle. Many young adults want to be able to live, work and play with no or limited need to drive. They will be able to take an elevator down from their condo to get their coffee or take a short walk to a range of retail stores and also walk or take transit to nearby jobs. Seniors will be able to use public transit that is handicapped accessible to reach retail and entertainment venues.
  6. Environment. The reduced driving and reduced idling from congestion will help reduce air and water pollution and also be one tool in addressing global warming.
  7. Taxes and Services. Businesses pay more in taxes than they receive in government services. The increased taxes from non-residential uses will help pay for services residents demand and/or help slow the rate of growth in taxes to residents. An economic study for the BRT network in 2015 included Viva White Oak, which accounted for 16% of the total development that could move forward with a BRT investment. The prorata share of that benefit translates to $1.4B in county taxes between 2016 and 2040. After paying for needed services, the county would achieve a benefit of $470M over that period. GLDC estimates that benefit after paying for services is $1.3B over the next 30 years.
  8. Community Stability. We want adult job training to be provided to allow existing low income residents to be able to advance into higher paying and more rewarding jobs in the area. This will help improve the economic balance in the area, which then is expected to lead to improved public safety and quality of education in our public schools. GLDC plans to provide some of this training.
  9. Improved Medical Care. The Adventist Hospital will be state of the art with emergency care, including helicopter landing pad. FDA and Adventist have entered into agreements to allow FDA doctors to use the hospital to maintain their clinical skills. They also have an agreement to use devices FDA is ready to approve in a clinical environment to ensure that they are designed in such a way it is easy for nurses/doctors to use and to minimize accidents. These agreements are expected to result in enhanced medical care for local residents and then those throughout the US and world.

Major Improvements for White Oak Area

The area is defined by the White Oak Science Gateway (WOSG) Master Plan, which was approved in July 2014. There are three major activity centers within the Master Plan area: White Oak Center, Hillandale and Life Sciences/FDA Village Center. There are five major changes either underway or coming to White Oak that will benefit everyone:

  1. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): FDA presently has approximately 8500 FDA employees at White Oak. These employees are housed in $1.4B worth of recently completed buildings on the Federal Research Center and in a leased building on Elton Rd. FDA requires additional space for the 3800 employees still housed at other sites and to accommodate increased staff needed to fulfill their new regulatory responsibilities. FDA is currently updating its master plan for its facility needs. It is clear that they need additional buildings, but the amount of floor space is not clear. They also need those buildings within 2-3 years. Congressional restrictions dictate that the new space be located on the Federal Research Center or contiguous to it.
  2. Washington Adventist Hospital. Adventist broke ground on March 7, 2016 for a $331M, 170 bed hospital and medical campus adjacent to the lake on 48 acres on Plum Orchard Road, in the Life Sciences area. It is set to open in early 2019. They will continue to have medical facilities, not a hospital, in Takoma Park.
  3. Viva White Oak (see diagram). The major development within the Life Sciences area is on 282 acres which can be accessed via either Cherry Hill Road at FDA Blvd or Industrial Blvd. The land is currently owned by Global LifeSci Development Corp (GLDC) and Montgomery County. There is a General Development Agreement (see separate fact sheet) that provides more business details that affects the build-out of this site. The plan is to create a new town center of mixed-use, transit-oriented development. It will have a wide range of uses including college level education, a new MCPS elementary school, life science research, restaurants, hotel and conference center, retail, various public and civic uses, and general offices. Office development is slow within the county, but Viva White Oak is expected to be an exception to that pattern, because of FDA. FDA regulates twenty-five cents of every dollar spent in the US. FDA has changed it regulatory approach to one of collaboration with industry as they develop new drugs and medical equipment. Accordingly it is expected that many companies from around the world will want a presence close to FDA to help expedite the approval process and attend conferences that occur at a rate of four per day.
  4. Hillandale: The Duffie Company is working to bring a new 100 room Hilton extended stay motel and conference center on Elton Road. They also have an agreement with the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) to rebuild and expand Holly Hall. They are working on plans to redevelop the Hillandale Shopping Center. It may contain retail on the ground floor and residences above.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). BRT public transit service will run on US29 from Silver Spring Metro to Burtonsville and local bus service in the area will be restructured and enhanced in the 2020 timeframe. Other BRT routes in the December 2013 Transit Master Plan for our area are New Hampshire Ave and Randolph Rd. Montgomery County has receive a $10M Tiger Grant from the US Department of Transportation to help build the US29 BRT. An equal matching amount is needed from county/state sources and MCDOT is in discussions for the state to cover at least part of those funds. Other funds are also needed The plan provides dedicated BRT lanes where possible – use the existing shoulder north of New Hampshire and to the south convert an existing lane where possible for BRT and HOV traffic. Detailed design studies are underway.