2021 | Development

Gaithersburg approves preliminary plan for former Leidos campus

Development includes two buildings, fast-food restaurant, gas station

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The Gaithersburg City Council approved a schematic development plan for the former Leidos campus at 700 N. Frederick Ave. on Monday. Matan Companies aims to develop the space into a mixed use property.

Photo from planning documents

The Gaithersburg City Council on Monday approved a preliminary site plan for the former Leidos campus at 700 N. Frederick Ave.

The development plan includes two mixed-use buildings, a gas station and a fast-food restaurant, among other features. It totals 461,100 square feet.

Frederick-based Matan Companies bought the Leidos campus more than two years ago, with the initial goal of developing it into a mixed-use property.

Matan filed a sketch plan in August 2019 for multiple buildings and multiple uses, but filed a new sketch plan in May 2020 for “one or more uses” after Amazon said it might be interested in building a distribution center there.

Amazon later announced it was no longer interested in locating on the site, forcing Matan to revert to its original sketch plan for multiple buildings and multiple uses.

Key features in the schematic development plan approved Monday include:

  • Two “flex buildings” at the center of the property that could have commercial and industrial uses along with office space. Each building has 225,000 square feet of gross floor area, city planner Caroline Seiden said.
  • A total of 16.76 acres of green space throughout the campus
  • A fast-food restaurant with a drive-through on one lot
  • A gas station with a car wash on another lot
  • Solar-panel electric vehicle charging stations
  • An increased tree canopy
  • A “cool roof” designed to reflect sunlight

Seiden said each of the two flex buildings would be about 50 feet tall, and could include up to 25,000 square feet of mezzanine space, allowing “enhanced architectural design.”

Although there is one schematic development plan, it will be implemented over multiple final site plans, and the first will include the two flex buildings, Seiden said.

Some council members had questioned the warehouse-like design of the flex buildings during a December hearing, but Matan has revised its design for the buildings to be a masonry aesthetic, Seiden said.

Council members were receptive to the schematic plan for the campus on Monday.

Council Member Laurie-Anne Sayles asked if there is more specific information about what the flex buildings will be used for. Seiden replied that the buildings will be constructed without the tenants having been determined.

“My understanding is they don’t know who those tenants are. There may be some that are distribution warehouse uses, there may be biotech uses, there might be offices. It could be any number of different tenants,” she said.

Matan said in December that it plans to market the property to biotech companies.

Sayles also asked whether trees would be removed from the site. Seiden replied that nine trees would be removed, some of which are not in good shape. More than 200 new trees will be planted, Seiden said.

Council Member Robert Wu said he hoped to see additional green space. Council Members Ryan Spiegel and Neil Harris said they weren’t thrilled about some of the retail uses on the property, but were willing to accept the plan.

“I don’t love the retail design of what looks like a gas station and a drive-through fast-food restaurant on North Frederick, but I understand why the applicant has gone in that direction,” Harris said.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com