WHEATON – Montgomery County officials confirmed that seven agencies will move to downtown Wheaton to be a part of the new headquarters building being built on Reedie Drive when it opens in the summer of 2020.
Uniting all agencies together will make the new Wheaton location a “one-stop-shop” for residents looking to contact multiple departments, Judie Lai, architect and project manager for Wheaton Headquarters, said.
The local agencies include both the Montgomery County Planning Board and Department, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Office of Community Use of Public Facilities and the Mid-County Regional Services Center/Urban District, Permitting Services, Recreation and Health, and Human Services.
“We are excited about our upcoming move to the neighborhood and proud of the work that went into making sure this building would set a new standard for excellence in the design of public facilities in Montgomery County,” said Montgomery Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson.
They will be housed inside the 14-story structure that sits adjacent to the Wheaton Metro Station and is a block from Georgia Avenue.
The construction and management are currently under the control of the County’s Department of Transportation. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), a state agency whose current headquarters is on 8787 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring, will own the Wheaton facility once the $152 million is completed.
“You can predict good things are going to happen once it is open,” Lai said. “We hope to have up to 1,000 people in the building and this will add another high-rise building in the Wheaton area beside the Safeway building…I am sure the area will be different and changed in a good way.”
According to Lai, HHS and Recreation were added to the plans because they do not own their own properties.
Instead, they rent out office space in 255 Rockville Pike. Instead of renewing the lease, then-County Executive Ike Leggett proposed moving them over as part of the proposed headquarters site during the planning stages, increasing the height of the building, Lai said.
Despite the change, the building is still on schedule for its 2020 opening date, officials said.
“It is very promising,” Lai said. “So far the project is on schedule and if you drive by, you can already see the second-floor slab is almost complete.”
“Wheaton is already a great place,” Leggett said in a statement. “This exciting project will make it even better.”
The addition of more agencies into the plan did not cause any major alterations to the design features in according to Senior Urban Designer Paul Mortensen. The process started back in 2017 and includes 11,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor on the east side of the building and a landscaped plaza and town square facing the front of the headquarters.
The 308,000 square-foot office building will become of the first government buildings in the state to be LEED Platinum-certified for its green features, including geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, roof gardens, electricity generation and gray water reuse. The interior will receive efficient lighting and daylight through the clear windows. A key feature is the main staircase as it will be a uniting point for access with all the agencies.
“The central stairs that go up the entire height of the building was based on the idea to create an element that connects all the agencies and allows interaction between all the different groups,” Mortensen said.
Once the project is complete and county workers are settled into their new home, Mortensen hopes that the residents will enjoy the new additions created by this project. Whether it is using the plaza, town square or the headquarters itself, it is a building that can service more than county employees, Mortensen said.
“We hope it stays very open and it can be used day and night,” Mortensen said. “We think it is a people’s building; we have visions of the large lobby hosting periodic art shows or people can possibly lease out the lobby for receptions or the greatest fantasy even allowing a civic wedding to happen because there will be a lot of light in there…We hope that the building will be very, very open to the public and used by the public as well as the agencies working there.”