Montgomery County Council Release Statement in Support of Viva White Oak Development, “Deeply Disappointed” in Marc Elrich

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Montgomery County Council President Tom Hucker, Vice President Gabe Albornoz, and Councilmembers Nancy Navarro, Hans Riemer, Sidney Katz and Andrew Friedson issued a statement today in support of the Viva White Oak Development.

In the statement, they were critical of County Executive Marc Elrich, saying “we were deeply disappointed to read County Executive Marc Elrich’s continued opposition to one of Montgomery County’s top economic development priorities – Viva White Oak – the public-private partnership which plans to bring approximately seven million square feet of commercial development and 5,000 residential units to White Oak.

Full statement below.

For Immediate Release: Monday, September 20, 2021

ROCKVILLE, Md., Sept. 20, 2021—Council President Tom Hucker, Vice President Gabe Albornoz, and Councilmembers Nancy Navarro, Hans Riemer, Sidney Katz and Andrew Friedson issued the following statement in support of the Viva White Oak Development:

“We were deeply disappointed to read County Executive Marc Elrich’s continued opposition to one of Montgomery County’s top economic development priorities – Viva White Oak – the public-private partnership which plans to bring approximately seven million square feet of commercial development and 5,000 residential units to White Oak.

“Over the last three years, Montgomery County has been last in the region in job creation. And, like the rest of the major jurisdictions in the metropolitan Washington region, Montgomery County leaders have declared a housing crisis and adopted ambitious housing production goals, which the current administration has failed to meet.

“Viva White Oak is not only a significant step toward reaching our job creation and our housing production goals. It also promises to create high-wage jobs in East County, exactly where Montgomery County needs them most. Attracting more jobs near FDA headquarters and convenient to East County communities also aligns with the County’s racial equity principles and reduces overall commute times in service of our climate goals.

“Percontee Inc. recently announced its plans to begin development on the first phase of the project in early 2022. This is a vital opportunity to bring a vibrant live-work-play community to White Oak and bolster Montgomery County’s position as a leading biotech and life sciences hub.

“The project, centrally located between the new Washington Adventist Hospital and Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, will expand commercial and residential opportunities in every direction and the new development will raise the value and the marketability of the surrounding area.

“The County has invested $40 million in transportation and infrastructure improvements to support Viva White Oak and must continue to support the revitalization efforts in White Oak that community leaders and residents have been counting on for years. The County government, which analyzes all policy decisions through a lens of racial equity and social justice, has an obligation to significantly invest in East County. That investment needs to be leveraged in order to create economic opportunities for East County residents, particularly the most vulnerable.

“This project is adjacent to a designated Equity Emphasis Area with extraordinary opportunities. It is home to mixed-income residents that would benefit greatly from a variety of new jobs, amenities, and new housing, achieving continuous investment and providing support in bringing this mixed-use space to life is pivotal.

“Viva White Oak also is conveniently served by Flash, the County’s first Bus Rapid Transit line, and its success will help to guarantee the continued success and ridership levels of the Flash bus line in that corridor.

“We expect that East County will continue to be one of the fastest growing areas in the County over the next decade; a majority of schools in this area are already at varying levels of overcapacity. We urge the County Executive to join us in supporting the White Oak community and Viva White Oak, rather than continuing to publicly disparage one of the County’s top economic development projects, which will bring housing, jobs and opportunity to the area.

“We will support the White Oak community and facilitate coordination among these stakeholders in the development of Viva White Oak and revitalization of East County.”

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