This past weekend I was home to see my family and noticed a remarkable change in Rockville Pike, Montgomery County's commercial corridor.
If you've lived in the DC area you've surely experienced 'the Pike', an eight lane sea of traffic, seemingly always packed to the brim. Lined with strip malls one after another on each side. Mix in a dying enclosed shopping mall, numerous big box retailers, and every type of restaurant you could desire and you've got the Pike. All in all it's a horrible road.
On a positive note major attempts to urbanize the area are underway. Several Metro stations already line the corridor, a master plan has been developed, and residential towers are slowly popping up. While these residential towers are largely very introverted, they are adding density to the area. Longterm plans call for surface parking to be reduced to 20 to 30 acres, down from more than 160 acres.
Still problems exist, mainly the street infrastructure and hostile walking environment. Future plans do include a redesign of the street, including narrowing the street, adding trees, and potentially additional bus rapid transit options. Low end estimates for this transformation start around 600 million dollars, none of it is expected to come from the federal government.
I'm not sure what can happen next. New developments are still in process, but infrastructure begets architecture. I imagine many other high population suburbs are struggling with this as well.
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
Links, in order by date. Oldest to new.
5/09 - Rockville Pike is Always Changing, and Always Useful
4/10 - NYT: Grand Makeover Is Set for Maryland Strip City
10/11 - Proposed Walmart undermines Rockville Pike redevelopment
10/11 - WP: For White Flint Developers, Time to Urbanize Rockville Pike is Now
10/11 - The Upsizing of White Flint