Rockville Town Center Master Plan Update

Master Plan Update

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.

Town Center Master Plan Update Process

In January 2023, Comprehensive Planning staff received instruction from the Mayor and Council to embark on an update to the 2001 Rockville Town Center Master Plan. The past twenty years of growth in Town Center has largely been a success, but not without its challenges. The Rockville Town Center Master Plan Update (“Update”) will seek to build on Town Center’s strengths and position the planning area for decades of prosperity and vitality.

The most recent master plan for Rockville Town Center was adopted in 2001. In the subsequent two decades, Town Center has evolved to 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.

Additionally, since the 2001 Rockville Town Center Master Plan, Rockville has adopted city-wide goals and initiatives, including its Vision Zero initiatives to end traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030; to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; and to further racial equity and social justice. An update to the master plan will bring the Town Center further into alignment to meet these important goals.

Most recently, in August 2021, the Mayor and Council adopted Rockville 2040: Comprehensive Plan of the City of Rockville, Maryland (Comprehensive Plan). The Comprehensive Plan makes several recommendations to City land use, policies and projects. Within the document an entire chapter is dedicated to the Rockville Town Center planning area. While elements of the Comprehensive Plan supersede the 2001 Rockville Town Center Master Plan, this chapter identified City Project 1 to “conduct a planning effort leading to the adoption of a Comprehensive Plan amendment to Planning Area 1 that updates and replaces the 2001 Town Center Master Plan.”

Town Center Area Map Opens in new window

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. Thus, the purpose of the Update will be 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.

Project Geography and Timeline

Rockville Town Center comprises about 200 acres of the city, generally bounded by properties along Fleet Street to the south, South and North Washington streets along the west, and the railroad tracks to the east.

The project proposal outlines a process and timeline for the master plan update. The anticipated timeline for the process is below:

Date(s)Activity / Milestone
January – February 2023Adoption of Project Proposal by Mayor and Council
April 2023Public project kickoff
May – October 2023Public engagement/outreach efforts
October 2023Presentation of engagement and outreach report to public for feedback
November 2023 – January 2024Write initial draft of plan
January – April 2024Planning Commission review, edits, public hearing and approval of draft plan
April – June 2024Mayor and Council review, edits and public hearing on draft plan
July 2024Mayor and Council adoption of plan

Get Involved

City staff want to receive input from residents on the future of Town Center! Throughout the duration of the 18-month master planning process there will be many opportunities for feedback and commentary by the public. City staff will be utilizing Engage Rockville as the primary site for public feedback and commentary throughout the planning process. For more information on opportunities for engagement during the master plan update, visit the Engage Rockville site.

Visit Engage Rockville

2001 Master Plan

In October 2001, the Rockville Mayor and Council adopted the Rockville Town Center Master Plan, the first long-range planning document for this area of Rockville. Developed in large part by a group of committed stakeholders assisted by a consultant and City staff, the plan sought to help the community realize its downtown redevelopment goals. The 2001 Master Plan laid out a series of nine objectives to help achieve the goal to “create a daytime, evening and weekend activity center that is easily identifiable, pedestrian-oriented, and incorporates a mix of uses and activities.”

View 2001 Master Plan

Though the 2001 Master Plan was successful in many ways, over the past two decades shifts in the real estate and retail markets, as well as consumer buying and spending habits have changed the landscape of urban spaces. For many years the elected leaders have been calling for an update to the 2001 Master Plan to take into effect the new economic realities present today, as well as to capitalize on the opportunities and challenges modern day Rockville Town Center experiences.

Related Efforts and Projects

ULI Technical Assistance Panel

In July 2019, the City of Rockville and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments sponsored a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) conducted by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) on Rockville Town Center. The TAP program brings together a multidisciplinary team of experts in the region to provide guidance on land use and real estate issues facing public agencies and nonprofits.

The Rockville Town Center TAP focused on ~200 acres of land generally bounded by Fleet Street to the south, S. and N. Washington Street along the west, and the railroad tracks along the east. Ultimately, the TAP report recommended seven “actionable items” to address the challenges experienced in Town Center.

View ULI TAP Report

Rockville Metro Station Visioning and Concept Design Study by WMATA

The City of Rockville is collaborating with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) and Montgomery County to conduct a study of Rockville Metro Station. The study will include community-wide input to identify opportunities to increase transit ridership by improving site access and incorporating mixed-use development on Metro-owned property at the station. Though this effort is separate from the Town Center Master Plan update, the Metro station is a key anchor within Town Center and recommendations from the concept design study are likely to be incorporated into the updated master plan.

Additional information about the concept design study, including opportunities for feedback, can be found on the project page.