For commercial real estate purposes, you can call it the “Pike District.”
Call it White Flint, North Bethesda, Rockville or something else, and nobody will mind.
That was the conclusion presented Tuesday at a meeting of county government officials and White Flint residents, business owners and developers, perhaps ending years of back-and-forth over what to call the redeveloping, unincorporated area around the White Flint Metro station.
A group of developers known as the White Flint Partnership paid Bethesda-based real estate firm Streetsense to do a naming study.
On Tuesday, Streetsense presented results from a public charrette held in September at which about 65 attendees rated 10 possible names on a scale of -5 to 5.
Pike District was far and away the most popular choice, coming in at an average score of 2.13. Only two other names — “Market District” and “Rockline” — even had positive averages.
Streetsense creative director Gabby Rojchin and creative strategist Sarah Wright said many people conveyed that they already thought of the Rockville Pike commercial corridor as “The Pike.” Ken Hartman, who organizes the county’s White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee, said a survey done by his office came up with essentially the same answer.
While plans have been in the works for years to redevelop the corridor’s acres of strip shopping malls, residents and even some developers seemingly couldn’t agree on a single, unifying name that could serve branding purposes.
Earlier this year, as Hartman’s committee was getting ready to name its official website “Metro White Flint,” the debate reached a fever pitch.
Federal Realty’s Evan Goldman, the company’s point man on its mixed-use Pike & Rose project, suggested a name that dropped the White Flint moniker, with the idea that individual developments such as White Flint Mall could come up with their own, more specific labels.
After Streetsense presented the Pike District recommendation on Tuesday, Goldman again emphasized that the name is mainly for recruiting retailers from a developer’s standpoint. He pointed to the use of the “RB Corridor” in Rosslyn and Ballston in Arlington.
“The average resident would never call it that. They would call it the neighborhood they live in,” Goldman said. “The intent is not to change anybody’s address. The concept is really, from an economic development perspective, to create a name to allow the business community in the county to try to get the best retail tenants to consider this to be their home.”
In May, Goldman said that meant distancing the area from the White Flint label, despite its use on the Metro station and the 2010 county master plan that allowed the completed and planned redevelopment.
“People always ask me about when we’re going to tear down [White Flint] Mall,” Goldman said, referring to the Lerner Enterprises-owned property about half a mile south of Pike & Rose. “We can’t have a grand opening at Pike & Rose and have everyone go to the mall.”
Lerner Enterprises Vice President Ed de Avila told the Downtown Advisory Committee that the developer was completely on board with the Pike District idea.
“We’re really confident in the name that this will drive economic development results and really be a good model as we move forward,” de Avila said. “We look forward to working with the Council and the county to making this a reality.”
Goldman said the next step for the developers is to develop a Pike District logo early next year that would be shared with the Downtown Advisory Committee.
The committee, which is charged with creating a business improvement district-like organization for the area, would have to work out how to incorporate Pike District into its own marketing materials, website or even its name.
“There’s always going to be someone who’s not quite there, but whenever I go up to the Pike, that’s where I go,” Hartman said. “That’s where I tell my wife I’m heading. Up to the Pike to shop or to come to a meeting.”
The committee unanimously voted to endorse the name.