Crown Farm housing is going nowhere'
City officials say they haven't heard from developers for months
Chris Rossi/The Gazette
The billion-dollar proposal for the Crown Farm — Gaithersburg's largest planned housing project — has fallen silent, with a partnership of developers having dropped contact with city officials after pulling out of the region.
KB Home and Centex Homes, which teamed to form Crown Village LLC, tried to sell the 180-acre property this summer but offers came in at barely half the nearly $150 million they paid in 2006, according to city officials and the Montgomery Newsletter, a business publication.
There has been nearly no contact with the city for more than two months, officials said.
"It is officially going nowhere," said Gaithersburg Planning Director Greg Ossont. "The approvals are on paper, but it's not going anywhere."
The rolling farmland has been approved for 2,250 homes envisioned along the lines of the Kentlands and Lakelands communities.
KB Home, a Los Angeles-based developer, pulled out of the mid-Atlantic region earlier this year. A media representative for KB, one of the largest homebuilders in the nation, said she was unable to find someone who could discuss the Crown Farm project.
Centex did not respond to calls or e-mails.
The developers are obligated to complete the millions of dollars in transportation, school and recreation projects agreed upon in 2006 when the property was annexed into Gaithersburg.
KB and Centex gave the city $5 million for a proposed recreation center and $2 million to a farmland preservation fund. Another $1 million has been promised for a new upcounty senior center.
A 32-acre parcel will be dedicated as a school site once the first home lot is recorded. Developers are required to improve surrounding intersections — such as Fields, Diamondback and Muddy Branch roads and Great Seneca and Sam Eig highways — build a parking lot and pay $2 million for a shuttle service to the Shady Grove Metro station.
State transit officials have planned to shift the Corridor Cities Transitway, a planned 14-mile light rail or rapid-bus line connecting the Shady Grove Metro station with Clarksburg, to stop at Crown Farm.
A site plan for one of the neighborhood phases expires at the end of the month, a routine procedural issue that, if not renewed, could signal a significant departure from plans, Ossont said.
"They're still obligated to do everything that's in the annexation agreement. It has to be done. The agreement kicks in. At some point, something is going to be built there," said Assistant City Manager Fred Felton.
An additional 320,000 square feet of retail space have been approved, which is under contract with Finmarc, Inc.
Finmarc did not respond to phone calls and e-mails.