20 acres of Gaithersburg’s Crown Farm was sold to JBG Rosenfeld Retail and the Bozzuto Group for $28 million nearly 10 years ago, in July of 2012. According to documents from what was then Crown Farm Community, this purchase included approximately 11 percent of Crown Farm’s 180 acres, for the development of Downtown Crown, “a mixed-use project slated to include a Harris Teeter-anchored retail center and nearly 540 apartments.” JBG Rosenfeld Retail purchased the property to build 260,000 square feet of retail. The Bozzuto Group purchased the multifamily development rights to build 538 apartments above the retail.
Located in Gaithersburg, just west of Interstate-270 and the Intercounty Connector, Downtown Crown is considered the “retail heart” of Crown—a 182-acre master-planned community that was to consist of “more than 2,200 new homes and apartments, acres of parks, trails and a future transit stop for the Corridor City Transitway.” The community plan also incorporated a high school and a Corridor Cities Transit station for a light rail or bus line that would connect Gaithersburg with Clarksburg. Construction began later that summer for the plans that included the previously mentioned Harris Teeter, an LA Fitness, and a Starbucks. In October, the following restaurants were announced for Downtown Crown (not all ended up opening):
- Coastal Flats: A Carolina-inspired seafood restaurant that is part of the Great American Restaurant Group
- Asia Nine: A Thai and sushi bar with a popular location near the spy museum in Washington, DC
- Chicago-based Roti Mediterranean Grill
- French bakery La Madeleine
- Lime Fresh Mexican Grill: A fast-casual eastery popular in the South
- La Tagliatella: A Europe-based restaurant that’s part of the AmRest Holdings business group, the largest operator of independing restaurants in Central and Eastern Europe, serving high-quality Italian fare.
By February of 2013, Chop’t, Yogiberry, and Georgetown Square Wine and Beer were added to the list of new tenants. Venti-Tre, an “Italian Chipotle”, and Smashburger signed on as well. In July, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse signed on. In early 2014, ZAGG, hair and nail salon Body by Bio, &pizza, and Crown Cleaners were announced.
Not everything has gone as planned, and there have been plenty of openings and closings since Crown opened nearly a decade ago, but “Downtown Crown” has become a popular destination for Montgomery County residents…many of whom remember when the area was just a farm not so long ago.