+ Who is Regency Centers?
Regency Centers is the preeminent national owner, operator, and developer of shopping centers located in affluent areas. We have deep, local roots, owning 36 other nearby shopping centers in the Washington Metropolitan Area. In fact, much of the company’s Tysons-based team and their families live and work within the Bethesda area.
Our portfolio includes thriving properties merchandised with highly productive grocers, restaurants, service providers, and best-in-class retailers that connect to their neighborhoods, communities, and customers. Operating as a fully integrated real estate company, Regency Centers is listed on the NYSE and is a qualified real estate investment trust (REIT) that is self-administered, self-managed, and an S&P 500 Index member.
+ Why did Regency Centers purchase this property?
Regency Centers acquired the Westwood Shopping Center as part of its merger with Equity One. Now part of Regency’s portfolio, we believe this property represents an exciting opportunity to energize an underutilized retail destination that has not been renovated since it was first developed more than 50 years ago. We have taken the time to carefully consider the feedback shared so far, and are working to ensure the redevelopment plans are thoughtful and ultimately beneficial to the community. We want to create something truly wonderful, and we believe our vision for redevelopment will better serve the surrounding community for generations to come.
We are confident we can achieve these outcomes because our company creates unique spaces that meet three key goals:
- Placemaking: Creating distinct spaces that reflect what makes the surrounding areas special
- Connecting: Engaging with local communities through special events and charitable initiatives
- Dynamic retail: We blend best-in-class local merchants with top national retailers to create successful projects that meet each community’s unique needs
+ Were other nearby properties included in this transaction as well?
As part of the Equity One acquisition in 2017, Regency Centers acquired a portfolio of nearby properties. In Bethesda, these include Westwood Shopping Center, Westwood Center II, Bowlmor Lanes, two Westbard Avenue Citgo gas stations, and the former Manor Care site.
+ Will the redevelopment change the character of the existing shopping center?
The development plans will transform the shopping center, making it a more visually appealing and convenient destination for community residents to visit, shop, dine and enjoy. Our plans aim to preserve the very best of what the property has to offer – a convenient, connected location providing essential neighborhood services – while revitalizing the property with something fresh, new and modern. We see the redevelopment of the Westwood Shopping Center as a reimagining of the original neighborhood center constructed more than half a century ago. We understand the property is an important place that provides for the surrounding community’s most essential needs and services, and the tenant mix will certainly reflect this. In addition to creating more places to live, our plans also create a new place where the community can gather, with more dining options, more activities and more open space.
+ How are these plans different from what was proposed by Equity One?
Regency assembled a new design team to reimagine the Westwood plans from the ground-up, implementing years of community feedback, while also considering Regency Centers’ corporate goals.
The revised plans focus on creating an updated neighborhood gathering place designed first and foremost for the local community, emphasizing essential community services rather than regional “big-box” retail. In Westwood I, we eliminated over 300,000 square feet of retail replacing it with approx. 180 low-rise apartments, significantly reducing traffic impacts. The most popular residential elements of the previous plans have been retained, including plans for all-new townhomes.
+ Is anything different about these plans from what was proposed at the January public meeting?
While slight modifications have been made to the plans, they are substantially similar to those presented to the community at an open house and pre-submission meeting on January 31, 2018.
+ Will there be any changes or upgrades to the Westwood Center II building or other parcels?
Regarding plans for Westwood Center II, feedback from community members on the previous plan for the property was largely positive, and these plans will remain mostly unchanged. However, any redevelopment of Westwood Center II will likely occur in a future phase and will require a separate site plan approval process.
+ Will rezoning be required for Westwood I?
The zoning of Westwood I is CRT 2.0 C 0.75 R 1.25 H 60, which was established by the Westbard Sector Plan. Thus, Regency Centers will not require rezoning. Likewise, the other properties included in the preliminary plan are similar CRT zones, which means they will also not require rezoning.
+ What is the status of the litigation surrounding the project?
The Declaratory Judgement action challenging the validity of the 2016 Westbard Sector Plan was dismissed by the Montgomery County Circuit Court on March 14, 2018. Petitioners have appealed the Circuit Court’s decision to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, and a hearing is anticipated in April 2019. The aforementioned action does not challenge the zoning for Regency’s properties, so the plans will remain unchanged regardless of the litigation’s outcome.
+ What is Regency’s position toward the alleged cemetery site in the area?
Regency Centers recognizes and respects the sensitivity of this issue for many in the community. Prior to Equity One’s merger with Regency Centers, the Housing Opportunities Commission had exercised its right to purchase its leased property, including the subject parcel (Parcel 175). Regency Centers no longer owns the property. To our knowledge, the HOC has no imminent redevelopment plans for its parcel.
+ What are the next steps in the development process?
Regency Centers is continuing to work through comments received from Park and Planning Staff and various County agencies regarding the applications. Once all of the comments have been addressed, the applications will go before the Montgomery County Planning Board for a public hearing, which we currently expect will be in December 2018. After approval, Regency Centers will proceed to certified sets, record plat and building permits.
+ What is the best estimate for when development will begin?
Following approval of the preliminary and site plan, certified site plan, record plat, and issuance of all necessary permits, we anticipate a late 2019 groundbreaking.
+ What types of retail can be expected at the shopping center?
Our retail plans include a brand new 65,000 square foot Giant grocery store, along with a mix of restaurants and shops offering a variety of goods and community services. Regency Centers values a diverse, vibrant retail mix with a balance of national, regional, and local shops and restaurants. Our plan focuses on creating an updated neighborhood center and we hope to feature many of the same merchants already enjoyed by the community. No traditional “big-box” retail is included in our proposal, ensuring the Westwood Shopping Center will remain as relevant as it always has been to nearby residents.
+ Will the grocery store and other businesses be closed at any point?
Redevelopment will be strategically phased, ensuring every effort is made to minimize merchant closures during construction. For example, the new Giant grocery store will be constructed alongside the existing grocery store, allowing the new store to open soon after the existing store closes. For other merchants, a brief period of closure is likely, though our plans dramatically reduce this time from the previously proposed plans. More details about closures will be provided at a later date.
+ What will happen to the current businesses at the Westwood Shopping Center?
Some merchants have indicated they would like to remain at the center after redevelopment to continue serving the community. Regency Centers is actively working with each of the current merchants to assess their needs.
+ Is there an opportunity to provide input about what the community wants and needs?
Yes. Regency Centers owns, operates, and develops some of the most successful retail centers in the strongest U.S. markets because we always work closely with our neighbors in local communities to understand their unique needs and wants. We care deeply about the opinions of nearby residents, and we welcome your feedback here.
+ Will residential development be part of the shopping center redevelopment?
Yes. Our plans call for a “human scale” residential building featuring ground floor retail and only 3 floors of residential above, keeping the density and height within the allowable limits. And as previously planned, EYA, our townhome development partner, will build about 72 townhomes on the west side of the shopping center property. All height measurements are dictated by County requirements.
+ Will there be any affordable housing (MPDUs), and how much?
Yes. In accordance with Montgomery County Code requirements, 12.5% of all housing will be classified as Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDUs).
+ Will housing be part of any of the other parcels?
Yes. In addition to residential development at the shopping center, we are evaluating options for the other parcels, as well. The former Manor Care site may include new townhomes, and we are considering senior housing on the site of Westwood Center II. These plans are still to be determined and would occur in a future phase of development under a separate site plan.
Traffic, Transit & Parking
+ How much parking will there be for the shopping center and will there be a charge for parking?
Ample parking is included in the redevelopment plans in accordance with code requirements, and based on community feedback, all retail parking will be located above ground. All retail parking will be free and open to the public for the foreseeable future (residential parking will likely be reserved). These plans have not yet been finalized and more information will be provided at a later date.
+ Will there be a shuttle to Metro?
We understand that many in the Westbard community would like to see increased access to public transit. As more development in the area occurs, there may be opportunities to partner with other developers on a shuttle to Metro.
+ Will new traffic signals be installed?
Yes. a traffic analysis has been completed and at least two signals are expected to be warranted along Westbard.
+ Is the road realignment of Westbard Avenue at Ridgefield Road still a possibility?
Yes. The road realignment is shown in the Westbard Sector Plan. The timing and funding process of the realignment will be determined as part of the application process.
+ How will traffic be affected surrounding the project?
A traffic study evaluating the local road capacity’s ability to handle the proposed development was included in the application submission materials. The analysis shows that the traffic expected to be generated by the proposed development can be sufficiently accommodated on the local road network.
Open Space & Environmental Considerations
+ How much open and green space is proposed in the revised plans?
We heard public feedback about prioritizing open and green spaces throughout the redevelopment areas. The dedication of land for Springfield Neighborhood Park and the Willett Branch stream, the creation of a forest conservation area on the Manor Care property, and the development of a large, half-acre central green on the Westwood Shopping Center property are all included in the revised plans.
The central green has been improved from a design standpoint and increased in size to approximately half an acre, which we feel is large enough to satisfy most uses, but also maintains the “human scale” that is so important to creating a vibrant, walkable place. We also believe this will be a welcome change for the property, as the existing Westwood Shopping Center currently provides no open and green space whatsoever.
To ensure the central green remains an inviting, easy and safe walkway between the two buildings, the street will be designed primarily with pedestrians in mind. Drivers will be prompted to slow down, and during occasional special events the road will be closed to vehicles and exclusive to pedestrians.
+ Do your plans include improvements to the Willett Branch stream?
The plans currently anticipate the dedication of land to assist in the creation of the Willett Branch greenway envisioned by the Westbard Sector Plan. Whether an additional monetary contribution and/or direct improvements within the greenway will also be included, and, if so, to what degree, will be worked out as part of the entitlement process.
+ Will the development be certified LEED?
LEED certification is anticipated, but the classification is still to be determined. Regency Centers achieved its goal to develop at least $250 million in LEED-certified projects by the end of 2017, and the company continues this trend with its current developments.
+ What environmental practices are being incorporated into the redevelopment?
Regency Centers is committed to employing all environmental best practices. The proposed redevelopment will include the incorporation of modern stormwater management features, including green roofs, and will significantly increase tree canopy, on the property. These measures will greatly improve the environmental conditions on the current site. You can learn more about Regency Centers’ environmental strategies and initiatives here.
+ How will the community stay informed throughout the process?
To ensure you receive the latest information throughout the development process, the community is invited to sign up to receive email updates, which we will use to notify you of the status and progress of the redevelopment plans, public meetings, and opportunities to learn more about the process.
Those that are interested may also track the project’s progress with the Montgomery County Planning Department.