Orchard Pond to get luxury high-rise
Redevelopment would be at 11-acre parcel on Quince Orchard and Clopper roads
A luxury apartment building planned for the corner of Quince Orchard and Clopper roads in Gaithersburg marks the start of redevelopment of the largest multi-family apartment complex in the city.
The new building at the Jefferson at Orchard Pond complex, formerly known as the Orchard Pond Apartments, would be next to the proposed Corridor Cities Transitway in its current alignment, said Eliza Voight, a Gaithersburg city planner. Developers are seeking rezoning of the area to allow both commercial and retail development.
Gaithersburg's mayor, council and Planning Commission will hear project plans and proposed rezoning at two public hearings set for Jan. 4. Residents are invited to testify.
"It's Smart Growth," said Voight. "It's redevelopment of an existing older structure, roads and proposed transit."
The Jefferson at Orchard Pond sits on 43 acres bordered by Clopper, Quince Orchard and Metropolitan Grove roads. It includes five three-story garden apartment buildings with a total of 747 apartments. In March 2008, the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission gave up rights of first refusal to buy and renovate the complex, citing affordability.
JPI Development Services LP of Irving, Texas, bought the property for $108 million with plans to redevelop more than 100 units and agreed in a rental agreement with Montgomery County to set aside 74 units for those making less than 60 percent of the area median income and 56 units for families earning less than 80 percent of the area's median income until 2015, when JPI could raise eligibility for the 74 units by 5 percent.
Now the developer, reorganized as the McLean, Va.-based Jefferson Apartment Group, plans to tear down an existing building with approximately 150 apartments on an 11-acre corner at Quince Orchard and Clopper roads and bordered by Firstfield Road and in its place build a five-story building with 410 apartments and garage parking.
"The area, generally, it's got a lot of possibilities," said Gaithersburg Planning and Code Administration Director Greg Ossont, who said that the Maryland Transit Authority recently met with city officials and said a CCT station is planned at the corner, right next to where the new building would sit.
Jefferson Apartment Group is seeking to rezone its entire 43-plus-acre parcel from medium-density residential to commercial use, opening up "a wide arrangement of opportunities," Voight said. Ossont pointed out the property's location catty corner to the National Institutes of Standards and Technology and close proximity to the future Watkins Mill Town Center. The back of the property is also in close walking distance to an existing MARC station, Metropolitan Grove Court, Ossont said.
Early design plans show the new building would face Firstfield Road, and residential units would wrap around a multi-story garage, Ossont said. Some parking would face Quince Orchard Road, helping to absorb noise from the future CCT, said Voight.
The new building, which will increase density, would bring more apartments allocated for affordable housing than the city's current rental agreement, Ossont said. City law requires that all redevelopment in Gaithersburg set aside 15 percent of rental units in this case, about 62 apartments for moderately priced dwelling units.
Greg Lamb, executive vice-president of the Jefferson Apartment Group, did not return calls for comment on future market rents for the new building.
Construction will not begin until 2011, developers said. Displacement is certain for some residents.
A Dec. 10 memorandum from Greystar Management Services to tenants of Buildings 867-891 says that as plans are refined, management will communicate the redevelopment schedule and any relocation rights.
At least one third of the 43-acre parcel commonly known as Orchard Pond is protected land, including stream valley buffers used for stormwater management, city planners said. City leaders are expected to decide whether to approve the concept plans and rezoning in March.