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One Main Street Initiative is up and running into the new year

Solid committee of volunteers formed and a set of world-class advisers engaged

Photo by Rob Garretson

The Board of Trustees of the Kentlands Citizens Assembly (KCA) reached out to the Board of Kentlands Community Foundation (KCF) in early 2017 with a request. The mandate was to develop compelling proposals for a project which would enrich the community while staying true to our New Urbanist principles. The funding was to come from a portion of the accumulated surplus in the Titleholders Initial Contribution Fund (TIC). The KCF Board got to work in strategy sessions early in the year. The outcome was the birth of the One Main Street Initiative (OMSI).

The One Main Street Committee was formed as a program under the KCF umbrella, led and staffed by community volunteers. The KCA Board approved funding for the OMSI at its October meeting. While Kentlands/Lakelands has served as a New Urbanism model to the world, over time the heart of the community, Main Street, has struggled. The vision of the OMSI is to enable Main Street to be the social and cultural hub of our community, leading to enhanced quality of life for our residents and healthy property values, while remaining a timeless model of New Urbanism.

Residents have repeatedly voiced a desire to have and enjoy a vibrant downtown. While Main Street is our focus, we will strive to partner with Kimco and BF Saul to bring about a cohesive Downtown Kentlands. In order to achieve our goals, the OMSI committee identified the need for professional expertise to achieve effective engagement with stakeholders, build collaboration and consensus, determine market potential and desired mix and ultimately deliver a strategic and actionable plan for a vital retail district.

Following funding approval, the OMSI Committee solicited and reviewed several proposals from qualified consulting firms, both local and international. The Committee ultimately retained Rich Bradley, of The Urban Partnership, as Strategic Advisor. Bradley previously created and managed the Downtown DC Business Improvement District for 20 years, as well as serving as President of the International Downtown Association for 10 years. In that capacity he traveled to more than 100 cities, helping them to improve the vitality of their commercial districts. He currently serves as an advisor to business improvement districts in DC and Maryland.

We have also engaged the international advisory firm of Live Work Learn Play (LWLP), a leading North American expert in the development of mixed-use projects and the revitalization of neighborhoods to create well-conceived towns and cities. LWLP maintains offices in Montreal, Toronto and Nashville. The project will kick off in mid-December and be completed in 4 to 5 months, with LWLP taking the project management lead to deliver the strategic vision, positioning, programming and stakeholder engagement to ensure that the ultimate strategic activation and ‘place-making’ strategy is aligned with the goals and values of our community.

Rich Bradley and LWLP report to the OMSI Committee. The Committee is comprised of Kentlands and Lakelands residents with a wide variety of skill sets and includes Neil Burka (Federal Realty/Property Manager Bethesda Row), Chandra Wright (owner of SVN/Wright Realty, Commercial Brokerage), Mary Ann Pettorini (Branding & Marketing Advisory), John Schlichting (Director of Planning, City of Gaithersburg), Jodi Rapaport (owner of My Big Finds & liaison to the Downtown Kentlands Working Group), Joe Allen (City of Gaithersburg Transportation Committee), Maura Winkworth (Attorney), Ruthzaly Weich (Board Chair KCF/New Urbanist planner) and Mariann Zylstra (outgoing KCF Director/Finance & Administration).

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