Town Center Master Plan

Share Town Center Master Plan on Facebook Share Town Center Master Plan on Twitter Share Town Center Master Plan on Linkedin Email Town Center Master Plan link

Since the most recent master plan for Rockville Town Center was adopted in 2001, Town Center has evolved to be a premier destination and job center within the city. However, Town Center’s retail continues to struggle and compete regionally. An updated master plan will help guide Town Center’s success in the coming decades.

The overarching goal of the master plan update is to strengthen Town Center by creating a cohesive vision for the planning area that meets the city’s goals and provides a clear path for implementation. A new master plan is also an opportunity to bring Town Center into further alignment with city-wide goals regarding climate action, bicycle and pedestrian safety, and racial equity and social justice.

What is a master plan?

A master plan is a long-range document that establishes a vision for future growth and development. They provide the city and its residents and businesses the chance to clarify and refine the Comprehensive Plan's visions and goals for specific areas of the city. Master plans typically make recommendations for zoning, streetscapes, public infrastructure, and other aspects of land use.

Thank you to Manisha Tewari for her contributions to this webpage.

Since the most recent master plan for Rockville Town Center was adopted in 2001, Town Center has evolved to be a premier destination and job center within the city. However, Town Center’s retail continues to struggle and compete regionally. An updated master plan will help guide Town Center’s success in the coming decades.

The overarching goal of the master plan update is to strengthen Town Center by creating a cohesive vision for the planning area that meets the city’s goals and provides a clear path for implementation. A new master plan is also an opportunity to bring Town Center into further alignment with city-wide goals regarding climate action, bicycle and pedestrian safety, and racial equity and social justice.

What is a master plan?

A master plan is a long-range document that establishes a vision for future growth and development. They provide the city and its residents and businesses the chance to clarify and refine the Comprehensive Plan's visions and goals for specific areas of the city. Master plans typically make recommendations for zoning, streetscapes, public infrastructure, and other aspects of land use.

Thank you to Manisha Tewari for her contributions to this webpage.

  • Draft Plan - Opportunities for Feedback

    Share Draft Plan - Opportunities for Feedback on Facebook Share Draft Plan - Opportunities for Feedback on Twitter Share Draft Plan - Opportunities for Feedback on Linkedin Email Draft Plan - Opportunities for Feedback link

    The weather is heating up and so are things with the Town Center Master Plan! Since releasing the draft Plan in April, city staff have been meeting with stakeholders, community groups, and members of the public to talk about the Plan’s goals, policies and actions. We will be hosting two public meetings to share the Plan’s recommendations and to talk about WMATA’s concept for improvements to the Rockville Metro Station. Join us on one of the following dates to learn more about both projects:

    • Tuesday, June 18 at 7 pm. This is a virtual meeting, and registration is required to receive the meeting link. Register for the virtual meeting here.

    • Monday, June 24 at 7 pm. This meeting will take place in person in the Mayor and Council Chambers at Rockville City Hall.

    The next step in the process is to bring the Plan to the Planning Commission for their review and approval. It is anticipated that the Plan will come before the Planning Commission at least four times. Staff currently anticipate the following schedule for the Planning Commission:

    • Wednesday, June 26 at 7 pm – Presentation and Introduction.

    • Wednesday, July 10 at 7 pm – Public Hearing where public testimony will be accepted in person or in writing.

    • Wednesday, July 24 at 7 pm – Work session, discussion and instructions.

    • Wednesday, September 11 at 7 pm – Approval and transmission to the Mayor and Council.

    If the aforementioned schedule sticks, the draft Plan, with any modifications as instructed by the Planning Commission, will be introduced to the Mayor and Council in late September/early October.

    Don’t forget to complete the Draft Plan Feedback Form on Engage Rockville to provide your thoughts on the Plan. Completing this form, in addition to any public testimony or attending a public meeting, helps staff understand the community’s perspective and helps staff bring these perspectives to each approval body in an organized way.

  • Draft Master Plan Published

    Share Draft Master Plan Published on Facebook Share Draft Master Plan Published on Twitter Share Draft Master Plan Published on Linkedin Email Draft Master Plan Published link

    The Comprehensive Planning team is pleased to announce that a draft of the 2024 Town Center Master Plan is now available for public review and comment. You can view the Plan here - it is a large document, so it may take a couple of minutes to load. The Plan includes 59 recommended actions that address the goals laid out within the Plan:

    • Target appropriate areas for higher density residential developments to reach 2,000 new residential units by 2040. Provide a variety of development types to adapt to marketplace demands and to address missing-middle housing.

    • Amend parking requirements to be reflective of a transit-oriented neighborhood and to provide a more seamless, accessible, and user-friendly experience when parking.

    • Create pedestrian-oriented building and site design standards for Town Center.

    • Make transportation-related improvements that enhance safety and user experience for all who drive, bike, walk or roll.

    • Work with WMATA and MCDOT to enhance the bus system to increase accessibility, improve ridership, and expand systems.

    • Implement wayfinding signage to provide clear direction and awareness of Town Center and its attractions.

    • Strengthen visual and physical connections between Town Center and adjacent neighborhoods.

    • Increase the number of affordable homes in Town Center.

    • Cultivate Town Center to be an exciting, fun, and innovative place where people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds want to be.

    • Document and retain Town Center’s history and capitalize on the historic aspects of Town Center to promote heritage tourism.

    • Activate existing retail spaces, including anchor or destination uses, and support retail growth.  

    • Encourage sustainable and resilient building practices to prevent, withstand, respond to and recover from climate change impacts.

    The Draft Plan Feedback Form is now live on the Engage Rockville site. After you’ve had an opportunity to read through the draft plan, please let us know your thoughts through that feedback form. Additionally, we will be scheduling a series of public meetings to review and gather feedback on the draft plan’s recommendations in early June. We are also working on scheduling the Planning Commission public hearing on the draft plan, which provides yet another opportunity for feedback. This will most likely take place in July. We will update the Engage Rockville page once all of these meeting dates are confirmed.

    We are so appreciative that you’ve stuck around for this master planning process, but we’re not done yet. Your feedback is essential to make sure this draft is on the right path, or if any modifications are necessary before we bring the plan before the Mayor and Council. Have questions or want to set up some time to chat with staff? You can reach Comprehensive Planning staff at any time by emailing comprehensiveplan@rockvillemd.gov.

  • Community Engagement Report Published

    Share Community Engagement Report Published on Facebook Share Community Engagement Report Published on Twitter Share Community Engagement Report Published on Linkedin Email Community Engagement Report Published link

    Check out the draft for public review of the Town Center Master Plan update Community Engagement Report! Please provide any feedback using the comment form here by November 3, 2023.

    This report summarizes all activities performed by staff throughout the outreach and engagement phase of the Town Center Master Plan update project. The report provides insight into the methods of outreach, shares findings received from each outreach method, and details several key takeaways and major themes that will need to be addressed in the update to the Town Center Master Plan. The Community Engagement Report itself does not make any recommendations, but rather shares findings and popular topics of discussion to date. Ultimately, the final version of the Community Engagement Report will become an appendix to the updated Master Plan.

    Demographics of Respondents

    Staff utilized 10 different methods to collect feedback from the public during the outreach and engagement phase and confidently believes more than 1,000 unique individuals have participated in at least one method of providing feedback during this process. Generally, those who provided feedback are primarily Rockville residents, though most participants did not actually live within the boundaries of the Town Center planning area. There was a fairly even age distribution that is generally reflective of both Rockville and Town Center’s age demographics. There are two specific areas of note where the demographics of those who provided feedback do not align with demographics of Town Center of the City as a whole. There was an overrepresentation of females in this process, as well as an overrepresentation of people who identify as white. Since these demographics are not truly representative of Rockville or Town Center, the engagement results should be reviewed with that in mind.

    Major Takeaways and Themes

    Through the outreach and engagement period, several themes emerged. These themes continued to repeat in conversations across multiple groups and through different engagement methodologies. Major takeaways and themes gathered through this phase include:

    • Land Use and Housing
      • Desire to see more density, particularly in the form of housing.
      • The increasing need for affordable housing.
    • Business and Economic Development
      • Desire to see fewer retail vacancies.
      • Desire for more diversity in retail options, especially more retailers that don’t involve dining.
      • Tentative interest in an entity of some sort to support Town Center.
    • Transportation
      • Desire for more and improved bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
      • Need for improved wayfinding signage for pedestrians and vehicles.
      • Desire to see improvements to signage and accessibility of existing parking garages.
      • Tentative interest in closing additional streets to vehicles and making them pedestrian only (example: Gibbs Street).
    • Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities
      • Desire to see more parks and additional greenspace, including landscaping and streetscapes.
      • Desire for more events in Town Center.
      • Desire to see improvements to Promenade Park, enhancing the connection to the pedestrian bridge to Metro.

    Community Engagement Report Public Meetings

    At two upcoming public meetings, staff will present their findings and major takeaways from this community outreach and engagement process. These sessions will serve to help close out this process and allow community members and other stakeholders to provide feedback before the team begins drafting the plan throughout the fall.

    • In-Person Meeting: Tuesday, October 24 from 7:00-8:30 PM at VisArts (155 Gibbs St, Rockville, MD 20850), Buchanan Room on the 2nd Floor
    • Virtual Meeting: Thursday, October 26 from 7:00-8:30 PM via WebEx Virtual Meeting, Register Here
  • Take our business owner and employee survey!

    Share Take our business owner and employee survey! on Facebook Share Take our business owner and employee survey! on Twitter Share Take our business owner and employee survey! on Linkedin Email Take our business owner and employee survey! link

    Survey available here!

    To inform the master plan update, Rockville staff have been conducting outreach to a wide variety of stakeholders in Town Center's future. An incredibly important stakeholder group is the businesses that make up Town Center's economy. This survey will assist the City in identifying challenges and opportunities in Town Center that the master plan can work to address. This survey will close on September 5, 2023; please complete it before that date.

  • Public Meetings on Outreach and Engagement Findings to Be Held on October 24 and 26

    Share Public Meetings on Outreach and Engagement Findings to Be Held on October 24 and 26 on Facebook Share Public Meetings on Outreach and Engagement Findings to Be Held on October 24 and 26 on Twitter Share Public Meetings on Outreach and Engagement Findings to Be Held on October 24 and 26 on Linkedin Email Public Meetings on Outreach and Engagement Findings to Be Held on October 24 and 26 link

    City of Rockville staff have spent four months spreading the word and hearing from residents and other stakeholders about Rockville Town Center. At these public meetings, staff will present their findings and major takeaways from this community outreach and engagement process on the Rockville Town Center Master Plan. This will be the last chance for community members and other stakeholders to provide feedback before the team begins drafting the plan throughout the fall.

    In-Person Meeting: Tuesday, October 24 from 7:00-8:30 PM at VisArts (155 Gibbs St, Rockville, MD 20850), Buchanan Room on the 2nd Floor

    Virtual Meeting: Thursday, October 26 from 7:00-8:30 PM via WebEx Virtual Meeting, Register Here

  • July Update - Roundtables and Doorhangers

    Share July Update - Roundtables and Doorhangers on Facebook Share July Update - Roundtables and Doorhangers on Twitter Share July Update - Roundtables and Doorhangers on Linkedin Email July Update - Roundtables and Doorhangers link

    The City of Rockville Comprehensive Planning team has been busy over the past month hosting a series of roundtable discussions bringing together representatives from organizations representing various demographic and stakeholder groups. Overall, there will be a total eleven roundtables.

    A photo from our Affordable Housing Roundtable

    Our team has also visited every residence (nearly 2,000 of them!) within Town Center to leave a doorhanger letting residents know that the Town Center Master Plan is happening and how they can get involved. We couldn’t get into every multi-family building, but if you didn’t get a doorhanger, check out your mailroom where there might be a pile!

    Did you see one of these doorhangers on your front door? We put hundreds of doorhangers on residences throughout Town Center.

    Survey closing on August 18!

    Continue to share your thoughts anytime by using a variety of feedback tools available on the project’s Engage Rockville webpage until August 18. The webpage has a survey, reaction map, question and answer box, and idea board.

    After August 18, we will begin crunching the numbers and putting together a comprehensive report summarizing what we heard from the past four months of community outreach and engagement.

    Did you know?

    Town Center’s housing stock is overwhelmingly multi-family buildings with more than 20 units. Most of the residences (74.7%) are renter-occupied with a very low rental vacancy rate (1.2%), as of 2021. Nearly half of homes in Town Center were built after 2000 and nearly half are one-bedroom units. Median rents are about average for the region at $1,762, but the median sale price is a bit lower than elsewhere at $388,100, given the prominence of condo units. This has still left 36% of homeowners and 42% of renters paying more than 30% of their income for housing, meaning that they are housing cost-burdened. This shows there is a strong need to address housing affordability in Town Center.

    Coming Up

    Over the next few months, planning staff will be:

    • Tabling at events and community gathering places and visiting businesses

    • Meeting one-on-one with stakeholders (let us know if you/your group wants to meet!)

    • Hosting and partnering with community organizations to put on roundtable conversations targeted for specific user groups and demographics

  • June Update - Tabling, Meetings, and More!

    Share June Update - Tabling, Meetings, and More! on Facebook Share June Update - Tabling, Meetings, and More! on Twitter Share June Update - Tabling, Meetings, and More! on Linkedin Email June Update - Tabling, Meetings, and More! link

    Community outreach and engagement for the Rockville Town Center Master Plan update is in full swing! City staff members have been at events all over Rockville during the past two months, and you’ll continue to see us out on the street with flyers, poster boards, and stickers asking you for your thoughts on how to prioritize public improvements in the master plan.


    Rockville planners talking to students at Wootton High School about Town Center
    We are also in the process of planning and hosting a series of roundtable discussions focused on certain stakeholder and demographics groups that we might not hear as much feedback from otherwise. Planners continue to meet with individual groups and organizations as well, to hear what the people they represent need from Town Center’s future. Let us know if your group or organization would like to set up a meeting!



    Staff engaging in conversations with residents at the Rockville Farmers Market
    Continue to share your thoughts anytime by using a variety of feedback tools available on Engage Rockville. The webpage has a survey, reaction map, question and answer box, and idea board.


    Did you know?

    Over a third (38.4%) of Town Center residents use public transportation or walk to get to work. This is closely followed by people who drove alone (29%) and people who work from home (21.3%). Most households in Town Center (51.4%) own one car and 20% own two or more cars, but nearly 30% of households do not have any private vehicles. As the city works to combat climate change, one of the questions we’ll be asking in the Town Center Master Plan is how to make it easier and more convenient for people to choose more sustainable transportation options.

    Coming Up

    Over the next few months, planning staff will be:

    • Tabling at events and community gathering places

    • Meeting one-on-one with stakeholder groups (Let us know if your group wants to meet!)

    • Distributing doorhangers about the master plan update throughout Town Center residences and going door-to-door to chat with businesses

    • Hosting and partnering with community organizations to put on roundtable conversations targeted for specific user groups and demographics

  • What We Heard from the Kick-off Listening Sessions (and Who We Heard From)

    Share What We Heard from the Kick-off Listening Sessions (and Who We Heard From) on Facebook Share What We Heard from the Kick-off Listening Sessions (and Who We Heard From) on Twitter Share What We Heard from the Kick-off Listening Sessions (and Who We Heard From) on Linkedin Email What We Heard from the Kick-off Listening Sessions (and Who We Heard From) link

    Thank you to the over 100 people who attended one of our four listening sessions to kick-off the community outreach and engagement process for the Rockville Town Center Master Plan update! We appreciated getting to hear your thoughts, feedback, and ideas about how Town Center can improve over the next 20 years. At the listening sessions, we shared a brief presentation (view the slides here) and offered a series of individual and group activities.

    Word Clouds

    We used a live polling app to ask participants four questions about Town Center to create a word cloud.

    Question 1: What one word would you use to describe Town Center?

    The top responses for Question 1 were: struggling (7), community (6), potential (6), walkable (6), declining (4), and pleasant (4).

    Question 2: What is your favorite thing about Town Center?

    The top responses for Question 2 were: library (16), walkability or walkable (10), events (8), and concert (4).

    Question 3: What is one thing you would change about Town Center?

    The top responses for Question 3 were: density or more density (18), more housing (6), parking (5), and more retail (4).

    Question 4: What should Town Center be known for?

    The top responses for Question 4 were: destination (8), events (8), family oriented or family friendly (6), community (5), and vibrancy (4).

    Scenarios Activity

    We presented participants with different scenarios or options, some of which were opposites of each other, to identify what people would rather see in cases where there are competing priorities.

    • What is more important?
      • Low cost parking (71%)
      • Parking as close to your destination as possible (29%)
    • Which would you prefer?
      • Low cost parking that is difficult to find (30%)
      • Higher cost parking that is easy to find (70%)
    • Which would you prefer?
      • One large, highly amenitized central open space in Town Center (63%)
      • A series of smaller open spaces scattered throughout Town Center with fewer amenities in each (38%)
    • What is more important?
      • New open space for people (76%)
      • New open space for dogs/pets (24%)
    • What is more important?
      • An improved pedestrian bridge to the Metro (23%)
      • An improved plaza on the west side of Rockville Pike approaching the pedestrian bridge (77%)
    • What is more important?
      • A better pedestrian bridge to the Metro (24%)
      • A more pleasant experience crossing Rockville Pike (MD-355) (76%)
    • What is more important?
      • More outdoor dining (80%)
      • More street parking (20%)
    • Regarding commercial establishments, what would you prefer to see?
      • More dining/food options (36%)
      • More retail goods and services options (64%)
    • How should connections between Town Center and Montgomery College be improved?
      • Construct additional walking/biking paths (45%)
      • Improve transit/shuttle connections (41%)
      • Provide additional micromobility options (7%)
      • No improvements need to be made (6%)
    • Should the city be involved with incentivizing businesses to come/stay in Town Center?
      • Yes (55%)
      • No (41%)
      • Only in very specific cases (26%)

    What should business district roads in Town Center look like? This includes most of the streets in Town Center.

    Option 1: One travel lane in each direction, landscaped center medians, on street parking on both sides, sidewalks with street trees on both sides.

    55%
    Option 2: One travel lane in each direction, no center median, bike lanes on both sides, on street parking on both sides, sidewalks with street trees on both sides.

    41%
    Option 3: One travel lane in each direction, no center median, sidewalks on both sides, street trees on both sides.

    4%


    What should arterial roads in Town Center look like? This includes E and W Jefferson Streets and Maryland Ave south of Fleet Street.

    Option 1: One to two travel lanes in each direction, landscaped medians/separated turning lanes, bike lanes on both sides, on street parking on both sides, sidewalks with street trees on both sides.

    84%
    Option 2: Two travel lanes in each direction, on street parking along one side, no center median/turning lane, sidewalks with street trees on both sides.

    12%
    Option 3: Two travel lanes in each direction, on street parking, on both sides, continuous center turning lane, minimal bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure.

    4%


    What should major roads in Town Center look like? This primarily includes Rockville Pike/Hungerford Drive (MD-355).

    Option 1: Three travel lanes in each direction, landscaped center median, sidewalks with street trees on both sides.

    22%
    Option 2: Three travel lanes in each direction, center median with designated turn lanes, sidewalks on both sides.

    14%
    Option 3: Three lanes of travel in each direction, bus rapid transit lane in the center, bike lanes on both sides, sidewalks on both sides.

    65%


    Vote with Your Dollars Activity

    There are a lot of things residents would love to see in Town Center, but limited resources to make them all happen. We gave listening session participants "Rockbills" and a range of categories to spend their money. At the in-person listening sessions, this was an individual exercise and each person was given $12 in Rockbills broken up into various denominations with no change allowed. During the virtual sessions, this was a small group activity where each group was given $100 to allocate.

    Amenity In-Person Sessions Virtual Sessions
    Landscaping and streetscapes $158 (#1) $80
    Arts/Performance events $78 (#3 tied) $135 (#1)
    Dog park $96 (#2) $90
    Sidewalk and trail improvements $58 $120 (#2)
    Playground $78 (#3 tied) $68
    Bike lanes $20 $112 (#3)
    Parks $23
    $83
    Exercise park $65
    $39
    Improved lighting $50
    $36
    Picnic facilities $54
    $5
    Art park/sculpture garden $46
    $8


    Town Center Map Activity

    We also had an activity where participants could mark up a map of Town Center with their thoughts and ideas about where they'd like to see redevelopment, new parks or community amenities, streetscapes redesigned, and anything else they wanted to share. You can add to that conversation by using our Reaction Map tool right here on Engage Rockville.

    Who We Heard From


    About 88% of listening session participants identified as City of Rockville residents and 31% identified as Town Center residents. A majority of attendees have lived in their current place of residence for over 5 years, with 46% living in the same place for over 10 years and 5% for 5 to 10 years. Thirty three percent of residents have lived in their current place of residence for 1 to 5 years and 16% for less than a year. The general Town Center population has lived in their home for a shorter amount of time. About 18.5% of Town Center residents moved into their home in 2019 or later and about 41% moved in between 2015 and 2018.


    A majority of attendees were over the age of 45, with 31% over 65 years old, 13% between 54 and 64 years old, and 16% between 45 and 54 years old. 23% of attendees were between the ages of 35 and 44 and 16% were between 35 and 44. One attendee was between the ages of 18 and 24 years old. In Town Center generally, about 22% of the population is over 65 years old and about 11.5% of the population is under 18 years old.

    Most of the listening session attendees were white (84%), with only 4% representation from Black or African American residents, Asian or Pacific Islander residents, or residents identifying as an unlisted race. In Town Center generally, about 47% of the population is white. Over 13% of Town Center residents are Black or African American, 25% are Asian, 13% are Hispanic, 9.3% are more than one race or ethnicity, and 4.6% are a non-listed race.

    We know that these numbers are not representative of Town Center or the city as a whole. This is why we're only just getting started. Below are a few outreach actions we're going to be taking to hear from a more representative population:

    • Distributing doorhangers about the master plan update throughout Town Center residences
    • Continuing to send postcards to all Town Center residents about key input opportunities
    • Tabling at community gathering places and at events
    • Meeting one-on-one with stakeholder groups (let us know if your group wants to meet!)
    • Hosting and partnering with community organizations to put on roundtable conversations targeted for specific user groups and demographics

    In the fall, we’ll be coming back to all stakeholders with a summary of what we heard, who we heard from, and how the feedback will inform the direction of the plan. After that, we’ll continue to keep you updated on opportunities to provide feedback on drafts of the plan as it moves through the drafting and approval process.

  • Join a Kick-Off Listening Session!

    Share Join a Kick-Off Listening Session! on Facebook Share Join a Kick-Off Listening Session! on Twitter Share Join a Kick-Off Listening Session! on Linkedin Email Join a Kick-Off Listening Session! link

    The City of Rockville will be hosting four interactive listening sessions to kick-off the outreach and engagement process for the Town Center Master Plan update. The same material will be covered at all listening sessions, so you only need to attend one.

    • Thursday, April 13, 7pm-9pm — Rockville Memorial Library, 2nd Floor Meeting Room
    • Wednesday, April 19, 7pm-9pm — Rockville Memorial Library, 1st Floor Meeting Room
    • Saturday, April 22, 10am-12pm — WebEx Virtual Meeting, Register Here
    • Tuesday, April 25, 7pm-9pm — WebEx Virtual Meeting, Register Here

    Light refreshments will be provided at the in-person session. There will be an area within the room for children to do activities.

    Please contact City staff with any accessibility accommodations you may need.

  • Planning Commission Reviews Project Proposal for Town Center Master Plan

    Share Planning Commission Reviews Project Proposal for Town Center Master Plan on Facebook Share Planning Commission Reviews Project Proposal for Town Center Master Plan on Twitter Share Planning Commission Reviews Project Proposal for Town Center Master Plan on Linkedin Email Planning Commission Reviews Project Proposal for Town Center Master Plan link

    On Wednesday, February 8, the Rockville Planning Commission reviewed the project proposal for the Town Center Master Plan update and offered suggestions for community outreach and engagement strategies. The project proposal is an outline of the planning process and schedule. Read the staff report and watch the meeting recording.

Page last updated: 18 Jun 2024, 04:10 PM