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Spring '14 Capstone Competition 2nd Prize Winner

Rachel Stephen-Smith

Plaza Gateway is a transit-oriented infill development that will help deliver on Montgomery County’s vision of a vibrant, walkable town center in Wheaton, Maryland (MD). Occupying a prominent two-acre block between Wheaton’s central business district and the Westfield Mall, this pedestrian-friendly project will create a physical and visual connection between two key locations, unifying the town center.


With 496 residential apartments and almost 70,000 gross square feet of dining, retail, arts and small business uses, Plaza Gateway will be a place for people to live, work and play. Local artists and artisans will be celebrated through the inclusion of 31 affordable artist live-work lofts, an art gallery and a cultural and performing arts space. These uses meet an identified need in Wheaton – a designated Arts and Entertainment District with a focus on music and dance.The site is one block from the Wheaton Metro station and is surrounded by local amenities. With bicycle infrastructure improving in Wheaton, Plaza Gateway will offer a striking home for young professionals who seek luxury living in a diverse, creative community. 


The proposed development comprises two connected buildings. The 12-story “Gateway Building,” situated at the prominent corner of Veirs Mill Road and Reedie Drive, will have a footprint of around 14,500 square feet (SF). Occupying the northern part of the site, the “Plaza Building” will have a footprint of around 37,500 SF at a height of 16 stories. These structures will flank a public plaza, leading to a pedestrian bridge across the mall’s ring road, which in turn will become a landscaped pathway offering direct access to the mall. Retail and residential parking will be provided on-site in separate below-grade and above-grade structures.


With a total development cost of $123.9 million, Plaza Gateway will be an investment by Westfield, the current land-owner, in the future of Wheaton. When the project is stabilized at the end of 2017, Westfield will seek an equity partner to support its transition to permanent financing and to share in the returns from this visionary development until it is sold or re- financed at the end of 2026. Westfield expects to offer its equity partner a 7.00% preferred return, and projects an investor IRR of 17.56% before tax. 


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