New Neighborhood Rises Near Shady Grove Metro Station
First residents have moved into Westside and construction continues at Rockville site once home to county government warehouses
Construction along Crabbs Branch Way at the Westside at Shady Grove Metro project in Rockville
In the beginning, this dusty 45-acre construction site just north of the Shady Grove Metro station looked “like a Martian landscape,” said McLean Quinn, vice president of land acquisition and development for Bethesda-based developer EYA.
But over the last few months, EYA’s Westside at Shady Grove Metro project has taken shape. Three weeks ago, residents began moving into its first batch of completed townhomes on tree-lined streets complete with sidewalks.
While much work remains in the multiphase buildout, the new neighborhood on land formerly occupied by county government warehouses is sprouting up and boasts a powerful selling point.
“You’re not going to find this any other place, 45 acres on top of a Metro [station],” said EYA sales manager Adam Cetron. “It’s the biggest thing we have going for us.”
Once Montgomery County and Metro connect the neighborhood’s main road to the station area, a process Quinn said he expects to happen this summer, residents in Westside will have a six- to eight-minute walk to the Shady Grove Metro platform.
That means an entirely new transit-oriented neighborhood EYA thinks compares favorably to the nearby Crown Farm project in Gaithersburg, perhaps its strongest local competition.
A block of almost completed townhomes along the future Decker Place in the Westside project. Credit: Aaron Kraut
View toward the CSX rail tracks from completed townhomes (left) and the model neighborhood in EYA's on-site sales center (right)
The county likes the idea of the neighborhood, too. Its 2006 Shady Grove Sector Plan put the zoning in place for its Smart Growth Initiative, aimed at putting housing near the Shady Grove Metro station in place of the almost entirely auto-dependent government warehouses and maintenance yards that still exist across Crabbs Branch Way from Westside.
The Shady Grove Bus Depot, home to more than 400 county school buses, is set to make way for another 45 acres of residential development, plus an elementary school and soccer park from developers LCOR and NVR. As the county continues its increasingly challenging search for replacement bus depot sites, Quinn said Westside is moving forward smoothly.
The new neighborhood was home to the county’s former Department of Liquor Control warehouse, a food warehouse facility for Montgomery County Public Schools and a maintenance facility for Ride On buses. All have moved to new locations since construction at Westside started in spring 2015.
About 40 of the first 148 townhomes along the neighborhood’s first five blocks have been sold. The project will have a total of 407 townhomes once it’s finished. Construction on the first of four rental apartment buildings closer to the Metro station is set to finish in the spring or summer of 2017.
That building will have 333 units and the first half of 40,000 square feet of ground-floor retail leading into and out of the Metro station.
“Our goal was never to create a retail destination here,” Quinn said. “It was to create a neighborhood so you have everything you need on a daily basis to go out to eat, go to a coffee shop on your way to the Metro, pick up drycleaning—stuff that you really want easy access to.”
The project’s main interior road, Columbus Avenue, will lead to a community clubhouse with a pool, play area and outdoor barbecue space and a community garden with plots available to residents.
The first of four apartment buildings under construction at Westside, near the Metro station entrance (left) and an outdoor patio on one of the model townhome units (right)
The townhomes available now are priced between $604,000 and $849,900, with most featuring three bedrooms, three or four floors and dozens of options for floorplans, fixtures and other finishes.
Quinn said EYA has also taken some architectural risks with the project, including a new, much larger townhome model that’s 2,600 square feet.
The 22 units, which will have 3 bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms plus a two-car garage, will provide a ground-floor “multi-generational suite” for in-laws or older parents. They’ll also be strategically positioned at the corners of some townhome blocks to cover views of the alleyways used to access garages.
During a tour of the site Wednesday, Quinn pointed to the street widening work happening on Crabbs Branch Way, which the county will transform from a two-lane road to a four-lane boulevard with curbside parking and a median with trees and landscaping.
“We feel like the storytelling that we’ve had to do for this community is getting a lot easier,” Quinn said. “Now we’re a place. We’ve got blocks. You can walk out and see the streetscape. You can see the homes. You can see this building taking shape. We’ll soon have that sort of [Crabbs Branch] boulevard that will make this feel more like the neighborhood it’s becoming.”