Excerpted from ‘The emergence of modern Kentlands’ by Richard L. Arkin
Joseph Alfandre & the Kentlands Vision
The modern history of Kentlands begins with the 1988 sale of 352 acres of the old Kentlands Farm from the Kentlands Foundation Trust and Helen Danger Kent to Great Seneca Limited Partnership, a division of Joseph Alfandre & Co.
The price Alfandre paid has never been clear. The sum has been variously reported as low as $41 million and as high as $64 million, although the latter figure may have included development costs. The land cost clearly reflected the overheated real estate market of the mid- 1980’s, however, as well as Kentlands’ unique location as one of the last remaining large pieces of undeveloped land in the Rockville-Gaithersburg area of Montgomery County. Chevy Chase Savings & Loan Corporation, the centerpiece entity of the Chevy Chase magnate B. Francis Saul’s financial empire, financed the purchase.
Alfandre quickly sold — for $17 million — a portion of the site adjacent to the future Great Seneca highway (then under construction) to midwestern shopping center magnate Mel Simon for development a modern (and rather conventional) regional mall. Alfandre’s initial thought was to develop the rest of the former Kentlands Farm along somewhat conventional suburban lines, but with the architecturally pure house types he was known for building, most recently in his Washingtonian Woods subdivision.
But Alfandre became increasingly captivated with the beauty and order of the rather formal old Kentlands Farm complex and his sense of what could be accomplished began to evolve. Perhaps, he thought, the farm complex buildings could become the heart of a neighborhood more reminiscent of old-time country villages.
Alfandre met with land planners Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, then best known for their recently completed project at Seaside on the Florida panhandle, a neo-traditional resort village. After trips with Duany to a number of U.S. and European traditional towns, Alfandre became convinced that a neotraditional town could work at Kentlands. He hired Duany’s firm, DPZ, to create a vision, the Kentlands Vision, of a new-old community — a neo-traditional neighborhood — at Kentlands.
The Kentlands Charrette
In June 1988, Alfandre, City officials, scores of planners and other professionals, the public, and Duany and his wife and partner Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk (DPZ), held a week-long planning ‘charrette’ at the old Kentlands Barn. The result was the Kentlands Plan, a detailed scheme for developing Kentlands as a new, mixed use, economically and physically varied old-town neighborhood in Gaithersburg.
City approvals were quick to follow and Alfandre formalized the community in December 1988 by creating the Kentlands Citizens Assembly. At that time, he appointed five developer members as its officers and trustees. DPZ maintained a presence in a converted farm building as the Kentlands ‘Community Architect’ to oversee development.
The following May, to generate interest in the project, Alfandre transformed the area near the Kentlands Mansion by pitching a giant tent on Kent’s former Hidden Garden (now the Kentlands Green in the Old Farm District) for the Kentlands Festival of the Arts. (In September 1991, the arts and charitable character of the community was reflected once again when a bevy of artists and interior decorators transformed the old mansion into the Kentlands Designer Showcase as a fundraising exercise to benefit the National Symphony Orchestra.) An Old Farm Charrette in mid-1989 proposed using the mansion, barn, and other buildings to create an arts campus for Gaithersburg in Kentlands, a vision that is slowly being realized.
Construction at Kentlands Begins
A formal groundbreaking ceremony was held in October 1989 and the new Kentlands neo-traditional neighborhood was on its way.
A flurry of activity took place in 1990. The elementary school (called Kentlands Elementary School by everybody who was involved with the project) was at Duany’s insistence and Alfandre’s expense, been redesigned and built as a two-story school with a columned entrance. The school was completed in September and the first class of children entered. But the name Kentlands Elementary School did not fit in with the current naming requirements of the Montgomery County Board of Education. Over the passionate opposition of Gaithersburg’s Mayor and City Council, the school was named Rachel Carson Elementary (a Silver Spring, Maryland conservationist).
The old main entrance lane from Darnestown Road was closed for most of 1989 and much of 1990 to facilitate reconstruction of Inspiration Dam. As a result, the main entryway became the Osage Orange Allée, a tree-lined country lane that connected Quince Orchard Road (Maryland Route 124) with the newly opened Information Center in the Kentlands Barn. The old Kentlands Gatehouse that had guarded the entrance way was demolished for construction of Kent Oaks Way, but the demolition was carefully documented and a replica Kentlands Gatehouse was completed a few months later.
The Kentlands Information Center was opened in the old Kentlands Barn in mid 1990, with individual sales offices for the original builders (Rocky Gorge, Fairfield Homes, Joseph Alfandre & Co., and Mitchell & Best) opening up in the Carriage House (a converted garage next to the barn) or in sales trailers.
The first model homes were opened on Beckwith Street by Rocky Gorge in mid 1990. One of these included a small carriage house accessory apartment over the garage, a singular neo-traditional success in Kentlands. In August 1990, Joseph Alfandre and Company announced it would begin sales of its long-anticipated Old Farm District homes, starting off the sales process with a land-rush in which nearly two dozen future residents camped out all night to assure their place in line for sales the next day. This was the last land rush in Montgomery County, however, because the economic slowdown was rapidly turning into a major recession for real estate market and sales slowed visibly.
Residents Move In & Hard Times Approach
The first residents of the new Kentlands moved into Rocky Gorge homes in the Gatehouse District early in 1991, but a real estate slowdown was already under way. One aspect of the slowdown was a sharp recession in office construction that resulted from changes a few years earlier in the tax laws. Another was a collapse in the development of retail space and a virtual shutdown in mall development throughout the nation precipitated by a series of leveraged consolidations of department stores. One casualty was the Simon development operation, which pulled out of Kentlands as part of a financial restructuring.
By midsummer, the Resolution Trust Corporation, a Federal supervisory agency that had been set up to bail out financial institutions, had begun poking around the B.F. Saul operation, suggesting it was overextended. Alfandre’s home-building subsidiary began building its Old Farm houses and infrastructure construction continued, but by the end of the summer, it was apparent that Alfandre was in deep trouble.
The Alfandre Era Ends
In October 1991, after extended negotiations, Joseph Alfandre & Co. and Great Seneca Limited Partnership gave the project back to the bank, executing a deed in lieu of foreclosure to Chevy Chase’s newly created wholly owned subsidiary Great Seneca Development Corporation, Inc. (GSDC) Alfandre stayed on as a consultant for more than a year, but effective control of the project shifted to GSDC, its president Guy E. ‘Jeff’ Campbell, and a team of developers brought in to complete the community.
The neo-traditional flavor of the project was already assured, at least in part, by the zoning, subdivision, and planning approvals that were already completed or under way. In addition, the dozens of homeowners and home purchasers already committed to the neo-traditional ‘Kentlands Vision’ became a powerful lobbying force keeping city officials focused on completion of the project essentially according to plan. Kentlands residents became familiar faces at City Hall, poking through the files, speaking up at meetings, and lobbying individual staff members, commissioners, and council members.
Construction resumed after a halt of a couple of months and the first Old Farm residents soon moved in. The pace of construction slowly picked up. Though some two dozen residential builders have come and gone in Kentlands over the years, progress has continued at a steady pace.
Despite its problems, Kentlands was beginning to attract national — and then international — attention. ‘Time’ magazine featured Kentlands in a mid-year article, then named the community as the ‘Best of 1991’ in its year-end issue. Other articles about Kentlands appeared in books, magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals and Kentlands received the first of its many awards.
A New Economic Engine
According to Alfandre, the enclosed mall had been envisioned as being the economic ‘engine’ that would drive Kentlands development. The mall’s disappearance left Kentlands with no money generator. GSDC responded by converting part of the mall property to residential, eventually persuading the Bozzuto Corporation, a residential developer, to build the Beacon Place rental apartments and the Copperfield condominiums on part of the mall property. (Copperfield II was built later on a parcel across Kentlands Boulevard.)
In December 1991, GSDC brought in Guy Beatty and Robert ‘Chip’ Burton of the Beatty Companies, a Virginia-based retail development and management concern, to develop a conventional strip shopping center. Citizen reaction was mixed, at best. While many of the proposed uses (a grocery store, a hardware store, a bookstore, restaurants, dry cleaners, etc.) were desirable, others (Kmart in particular) were deemed less desirable by a number of residents and the conventional retail strip mall form was very unpopular.
Pressure from the public at Kentlands, city officials, and Mike Watkins (who had become DPZ’s Kentlands community architect and later built and lives in Kentlands first live-work building) forced Beatty and GSDC to rethink their plans.
The ‘Beatty Open Center’ was reshaped into a rectangular form around a T-shaped parking plaza crisscrossed by a full street grid. All utilities were to be buried in the drive lanes to facilitate future infill development. The large, rectangular parking plazas would be visible from Great Seneca Highway (which had opened in 1989), but not from Longdraft Road (now Kentlands Boulevard), or the residences of Booth Street.
At one corner, the rectangular shopping center buildings were necked down to a traffic circle intended to connect the center with the future Midtown. Liner buildings were proposed to face the boulevard and hide the back walls of some shopping center buildings.
Even though agreement had not been reached on many details, the city Planning Commission approved the project. A number of details remained unsatisfactory to Kentlands residents who also believed there were procedural defects in the approval process. A group of citizens filed a petition with the City Board of Appeals, bringing construction to a halt.
After successful negotiations in which the developer made several major concessions, the citizens withdrew their petition and the project was allowed to move forward. It has the first of many successful major citizen-led campaigns that have served to keep the Kentlands project on track.
The Postal Service Takes On Kentlands – & Loses
Another fight — this time with the U.S. Postal Service — emerged with postal officials suddenly reneged on their earlier commitment ‘alley delivery’ of mail for townhouses and single-family homes. Alley delivery, which had begun when the first Kentlanders moved in, meant delivery by Jeep to individual alley mailboxes for single-family homes and to small common mailboxes housed in quaint structures with wood siding and cedar shake shingle gabled roofs for townhouses. (Apartment and condominium mail was received in lobby mailboxes.)
Alley delivery to homes addressed to different streets proved confusing, so the post office, which had discontinued house-to-house delivery in new neighborhoods in the 1970’s, announced a change of mind: alley mail service would be discontinued in favor of curbside rural mail boxes for single family homes and large curbside gang boxes for townhouses.
Residents balked. Curbside delivery was impractical on streets lined with parked cars and ugly gang mailboxes were unacceptable.
Residents quickly organized and discovered a regulatory provision requiring service once established in a neighborhood, to continue and be extended as new residents move in. The regulation was quickly invoked, while a forgotten companion provision was also uncovered that that permitted postal carriers to deliver to mailboxes mounted adjacent to the sidewalk. Finally, after intervention by U.S. Representative Connie Morella, sidewalk mail delivery was established for all alley-loaded single-family homes and townhouses (except for a few that retained the alley delivery option).
This was, according to the postal service, the first use in the nation of the sidewalk mail delivery option. Kentlands — with Lakelands, who piggybacked onto Kentlands success — one of the few new neighborhoods in the country to have neighborhood postal workers on foot personally deliver the mail from house to house.
In 1992, concerned residents and contract purchasers formed Kentlands first civic organization, the Ad Hoc Kentlands Committee. The group, co-chaired by Bill Edens and Richard Arkin, met in residents’ homes and communicated through door-to door flier distributions. The Committee began regular publication of a newsletter in 1993, first as the monthly Kentlands Update, then as an expanded newsletter called the Kentlands Watch.
The organization of the independent committee prodded the developer to bring citizen representation to the existing Assembly operation. Citizens elected Geri Edens as their first elected of the KCA Board of Trustees in October 1992 and also elected members of a Kentlands Citizens Liaison Committee, which was established by the developer and formalized in an Administrative Resolution to give each district a voice in Kentlands administration. Arkin was elected as that group’s first chairman.
By the end of 1992, the developer-controlled Assembly began production of its own newsletter, the Kentlands Times. The Kentlands Times and the Kentlands Watch were merged into the Kentlands Town Crier at the end of 1993, and the newsletter was converted into a half-tabloid monthly newspaper in 1996. It now averages 24-36 pages and circulates widely throughout Kentlands and the surrounding area.
The Community Turns an Economic Corner
By 1993, the community was beginning to pick up speed once again. New builders entered the community, building commenced in the Middle Lake and Upper Lake Districts, and new condominium projects were proposed and built.
Beatty’s Kentlands Square Shopping Center opened in the fall. The Kentlands Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) opened its Georgian revival church in 1993.
In the fall of 1993, the community celebrated itself at its first Kentlands Oktoberfest, a huge fair on the Village Green and blocked off streets of the Old Farm District. The Assembly and the City now sponsor the Oktoberfest, which attracts thousands of visitors each year.
The New England-style Kentlands Clubhouse opened the following year. While the jewel-like Clubhouse was smaller than originally planned, citizen pressure and intervention by the County Health Department meant that the swimming pools and locker rooms were built large enough to accommodate the entire community (except for the Beacon Place rental apartment project, which opened in 1994 with its own recreation facility). A professional recreation director was engaged to organize a full range of activities (athletic, social, and musical) for the community.
The Kentlands Community Foundation
Kentlands Founder Joseph Alfandre had envisioned establishment of a new Kentlands Foundation. It was to be an arts, cultural, educational, and charitable organization that would enrich life in Kentlands and allow its citizens to reach their ‘full potential.’
Alfandre included provisions the Kentlands Founding Documents requiring purchasers to make a fixed contribution to a Titleholders Initial Contribution (TIC) Fund, which was dedicated to the social and cultural betterment of the community. The documents also encouraged the creation of a new Kentlands Foundation.
In 1993, a small group of citizens came together to set up this group and formally organized the Kentlands Community Foundation. It was created as a tax-exempt non-profit organization with an independent board of directors and the Assembly provided the foundation with nearly $120,000 (over several years) in initial funding from the TIC Fund.
The Kentlands Community Foundation now operates out of the Kentlands Carriage House (purchased by the Assembly from GSDC in 1999) and sponsors lectures, a concert series, social programs, charitable campaigns, house tours, and an annual 5K run fundraiser that is accompanied by a Market Street festival.
Wal-Mart Invades – & Retreats
While residential development continued successfully in 1994 and the city opened the Kentlands Mansion as an art gallery, museum, music performance space, and venue for parties and business meetings, 1994 turned out to be a year of turmoil.
Early 1994, GSDC revealed that several months earlier, it had sold 26.5 acres of the community to Wal-Mart for development of a huge superstore and was proposing to build a drive-through McDonald’s on a 3.5 acre lot adjacent to the Wal-Mart parcel. The proposed Wal-Mart would have been a 160,000 square-foot single-story warehouse store with an adjacent automobile service center.
The Wal-Mart store, which would have been some 550 feet long and more than 300 feet deep, was proposed for the high bluff overlooking Lake Varuna and was to be surrounded by nearly 20 acres of parking. The complex would have covered what is now all of the eastern section of Kentlands (including nearly all of the present-day Market Square commercial district and the entire Kentlands Bluff residential district). The Wal-Mart complex would have started at the proposed NGS Boulevard (approximately where the drive lane from Mattress Discounters to Michael’s currently exists) to Lake Varuna.
By the time the Wal-Mart plan was filed with the city in May, community activists had already organized the Citizens Alliance for Planning Excellence, an umbrella group that drew members from Kentlands and surrounding communities in and around Gaithersburg. CAPE, which Richard Arkin chaired, formed an alliance with local unions and business organizations, raised funds, organized petition drives and letter writing campaigns, distributed anti-Wal-Mart buttons, picketed, spoke at civic and governmental meetings, and lobbied city officials.
After a long, hot summer and fall, the Wal-Mart proposal slowly went dormant, with the company finally pulling out of Kentlands entirely in October 1995. Wal-Mart flirted briefly with the Hazel-Peterson group, then developing the Rio/Washingtonian project, but finally abandoned Gaithersburg entirely at the end of the year in favor of building in Germantown’s Milestone automobile-oriented big-box retail project.
Gas, Food, & Wash
While the community was being convulsed by the Wal-Mart controversy, GSDC made another proposal. This time, they suggested development of a gas station, convenience store, and fast food complex for the parcel across Kentlands Boulevard.
GSDC brought in Mobil Oil Corp. to build the gas station/convenience store/carwash complex. At the same time, the developer proposed a ‘fast-food park’ for the rest of that tract. The ‘fast-food park’ was to include several drive-through fast-food restaurants surrounding a central ‘park-like’ eating area. It was to be, as one developer representative said, ‘just like a turnpike rest-stop.’
The fast-food park proposal collapsed in the face of community opposition, but the Mobil complex was approved and was completed the following year.
A separate 1995 proposal for a drive-through McDonald’s on Kentlands Boulevard also attracted considerable attention in the community. Although McDonald’s pledged to build a restaurant that would fit in with the Kentlands architectural style, the drive-through fast-food concept proved highly unpopular and the proposal was defeated in mid-year.
CocoWalk for Kentlands
In mid-1994, the Beatty companies came forward with a coordinated proposal for Midtown that would have included townhouses, condominiums, and a two-story retail/entertainment complex patterned after the Coco Walk entertainment center in the Coconut Grove section of Miami.
The heavily detailed proposal received mixed reviews from the community, but the design and detailing were generally conceded to be quite good. City officials eventually approved the project, but financing and suitable tenants could not be arranged and the proposal eventually collapsed.
Booth Street & Kentlands Boulevard
In early 1994, the American Retail Group proposed construction of an Upton’s Department Store on Booth Street. After considerable input from the community and city staff, the Upton’s project was approved (along with a non-drive-through Boston Chicken restaurant on an adjacent parcel, with another restaurant site next to it that eventually became the Hunter’s Inn).
Upton’s opened later that year and the popular mid-priced soft goods store remained one of the highest volume stores in the Upton’s chain until the entire chain was abruptly closed down by ARG in early 2000.
A separate proposal for pedestrian-oriented shops on Kentlands Boulevard and Booth Street emerged in 1995. After a series of designs and redesigns, the Boulevard Shops opened for business in 1997. An O’Donnell’s seafood restaurant (designed in traditional seashore architecture) opened on Kentlands Boulevard in 1997 and expanded in 1999.
The Moratorium & a New Charrette
In late 1995, with the Wal-Mart proposal dead, Midtown foundering (with additional proposals, including one for a Midtown ‘power center,’ floated and sunk), the Boulevard strip development pattern in question, and additional proposals on the horizon, word was received that Colony Capital and the Natelli Communities had purchased the bulk of the National Geographic parcel. The Mayor and Council responded by imposing a moratorium on development in Kentlands so that a single coordinated plan could be developed for the remainder of Kentlands and for NGS.
In March 1996, DPZ and the City organized a week-long Midtown/NGS charrette. The charrette, held at the Izaak Walton League headquarters and the DPZ offices in Old Farm, brought together planners, economists, architects, engineers, developers, and lots of citizens. The results were reported to a gathering of nearly 500 in the National Geographic Society auditorium.
The new plan consisted of four parts with a focus on a new Market Square. They were:
(1) The all-commercial Market Square almost entirely in Kentlands (a few Natelli acres were later incorporated into the Kentlands Market Square) to be developed by the Beatty companies, with a Market Street spine road, a plaza, and a major cross street.
(2) The Kentlands Midtown immediately west of Market Square, consisting of townhouses, single-family ‘cottages,’ and live-work buildings (retail and office on the first and second floors, with residential above) along a Main Street going through the new Natelli/NGS project and connecting with Darnestown Road.
(3) A residential development adjacent to Market Square in Kentlands Bluff consisting of elevator condominium apartments, stacked-unit townhouses, and townhouse offices; and
(4) Lakelands (named after a residential community Otis Beall Kent once proposed for construction on part of his Kentlands Farm), an extension of Kentlands with the same street grid and development standards (but with loosened architectural and materials codes) on the Natelli-owned/NGS tract. Lakelands, like its sister community Kentlands, was focused on Market Square. It is tied to Kentlands not only by Market Square and a common history, designer and development scheme, but by a shared Main Street and a bevy of street connections through Old Farm, Midtown, Market Square, and Kentlands Bluff. One part of Lakelands immediately east of Gatehouse was later annexed to Kentlands as the Lakeside at Kentlands District and a tiny piece of Midtown (roughly two live-work units) may be annexed to Lakelands to ease some management issues.
The Final Phase Begins
City approvals for Midtown, Market Square, Kentlands Bluff, and Lakelands rapidly followed and construction began within the year. The first Midtown homes were occupied in 1998 (including the first residents of the Gardens at Kentlands senior living project), residents began moving into Kentlands Bluff in 1999, and the first live-works and Lakeside homes were occupied in 2000.
Beatty briefly floated proposals to anchor the new Market Square with innovative, traditionally designed two-story Kohl’s and Target Department stores (withstructured parking), but these ideas ran into some citizen opposition. Kohl’s and Target were also being courted by H-P, who had brought in Chip Burton, formerly with the Beatty Companies, to develop Rio/Washingtonian, a few miles away from Kentlands, as a neo-traditional town center. The result was that the two department stores fled to Rio, along with Barnes & Noble, where they anchor that highly successful and award-winning New Urbanist complex.
With structured parking and major anchor tenants no longer an option, the traditionally-designed Market Square was developed on a more modest village scale around Market Street, the plaza, and the cross street. A Zany Brainy toy store was the first major Market Square tenant to open. The art deco Kentlands Stadium 8 Cinema, centerpiece of Market Square, opened in 1998. The art deco Star Diner and an adjacent skating rink opened about a year later, and other restaurants, coffee and dessert shops, and specialty stores have followed.
Buca di Beppo, an outrageously designed Italian theme restaurant, opened in 2001, as did the new Kentlands Station, Gaithersburg, MD Post Office. A new Fresh Fields Whole Foods Market and café is scheduled to open in September 2001.
The year 2001 also saw businesses and residents moving into the live-work buildings on Main Street. That year, the Main Street Pavilion, a city park in the middle of Midtown, was completed and began to serve as a locale for farmers’ markets, antique shows, and concerts.
A new office building is currently nearing completion on Kentlands Boulevard, with approvals under way for another.
As of mid-2001, Lakelands, which is organized as a separate community, is nearly 40 percent complete, with construction under way on the remaining acreage. Lakelands has its own general store (owned and operated by Kentlands residents) and plans are underway for a lakeside restaurant, a major park, a county middle school, and a synagogue.
A Self -Governing Kentlands Begins Capital Improvements
Throughout most of its history, the developer maintained tight control over Kentlands governance. The first seat on the five-member Board of Trustees was yielded to a citizen in October 1992. In October 1994, the developer yielded a second seat. But even as Kentlands threw is huge 10th anniversary celebration in 1998, the developer still maintained control.
The first citizen-elected president took office in January 2000, and the developer finally gave up its Board majority in June 2000. Since June 2000, the President and Board of Trustees have all been elected by citizens. The current President is Richard Arkin and the current Board of Trustees consists of Chairman Barbara Moidel, Clyde Horton, Mike Janus, Patrick Malone, and Richard Nakles.
The Assembly’s budget currently exceeds of $1.2 million and the Assembly reserves are approximately $1 million. The first major capital improvement, installation of swimming pool lighting and construction of a poolside pavilion was completed in 2001 at a cost of nearly $500,000. Renovation of the carriage house for use as an archive, office, and meeting space is currently under way and plans are being developed for additional capital projects.
With only a tiny handful of lots still undeveloped, Kentlands today consists of approximately 1,800 homes in the sub-neighborhoods or Districts of Gatehouse, Old Farm, Upper Lake, Middle Lake, Lower Lake, Tschiffely Square, Upper Hill, Middle and Lower Hill, Midtown, Lakeside, and Kentlands Bluff.
The residential units include single family homes (some with ‘carriage house’ accessory apartments), ‘urban cottages’ (smaller single family homes), townhouses, garage townhouses, rental apartments, and condominium units. The rental projects include Beacon Place Apartments and the Gardens at Kentlands senior apartments. The condominium associations are Kentlands Ridge, Kentlands View, Copperfield Crossing, Copperfield Crossing II, The Kentlands Condominium (stacked townhouses on Kentlands Bluff), the six separately organized Chevy Chase street apartment condominiums and the apartments in the live-work buildings on Main Street and in Old Farm).
Kentlands is also the home to some 1 million square feet of office and commercial development, with more planned for Kentlands, for Lakelands, and for Edison Park.
The City is now completing the Gaithersburg Center for the Arts in the Kentlands Barn, the second phase (the first being Kentlands Mansion) of a multi-phase and (hopefully) multi-building cultural arts campus in Kentlands. The city also expects the Main Street connection to Darnestown Road (which is itself being widened to a four-lane boulevard) to be complete later this year.
The State, City, and county are also planning for construction of the Corridor Cities Transit way, a light-rail (trolley car) or possibly busway line that will connect the area to the Shady Grove Metro station. A slight route modification is now being considered that would bring the light rail line into Kentlands on the median strip of Kentlands Boulevard. Such a connection would provide easy access on foot for nearly all who live and work in the Gaithersburg’s Neo-traditional Quarter.
One certain sign of Kentlands maturity is that the community is now dealing with its first redevelopment and infill development issues. The former MJ Designs store, which closed when that chain went bankrupt, is now being redeveloped for Fresh Fields Whole Foods Market. O’Donnell’s recently received approval for a new infill building that would house its wholesale and retail bakery and fish mongering businesses. Plans have also recently been submitted for redevelopment of the abandoned Upton’s Department Store.
The success of Kentlands can be seen in its clubs and organizations, active street life, intense internal politics, well-read newspaper, active recreation program, strong amateur athletic teams, and in the intense loyalty it seems to generate. Kentlands has the look and feel of a real place, too, with its annual July 4th parade, carnival and hilltop picnic; Memorial Day barbecue; Labor Day Bash; Holiday party; Oktoberfest; bi-weekly lawn concerts; performances and concerts at the Mansion; and its general hustle and bustle.
It is truly an incredible place. Just ask anyone who lives here.