Montgomery County failed in its bid lure Amazon, the e-commerce giant that opted to build its second headquarters in Arlington, Va.
But top county officials have an alternate vision for the area surrounding the White Flint Metro station — a “life sciences hub” that exploits the presence of the close-by National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration.
“My goal is to produce a signature project that restates Montgomery County’s case as the leading life sciences center in the country,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc B. Elrich (D) in an interview. “(White Flint) is sitting on the Metro. It’s right down from the Beltway, and there’s a ton of under-developed property there.”
Elrich has hired Tom Lewis, who served as chief of staff to former Maryland House Speakers Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Allegany), to the newly created position of development ombudsman.
In June, Lewis retired from Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, where he spent 16 years as vice president for government and community affairs, a post in which he served as a conduit between the school, state and local government, the private sector, and communities surrounding the campus.
If confirmed by the county council, Lewis would have a similar job nurturing the White Flint project.
“Tom brings this unparalleled level of experience within the state working on these issues, working for one of the premiere global research organizations [and] NIH and FDA on joint projects,” said Chief Administrative Officer Richard S. Madaleno Jr. “Tom was part of the Hopkins team that worked on the Maryland bid for Amazon.”
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the agency that provides rail and bus service in the D.C. region, owns a large, undeveloped parcel adjacent to the White Flint station — and in the coming weeks the agency is expected to solicit requests from potential developers.
WMATA has engaged Jones Lang LaSalle, an internationally-known real estate consultant based in Chicago, to guide its pursuit of partners and a development vision.
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