Viva White Oak Mixed-Use Project Back on Track: Report

Baltimore-based MCB Real Estate, one of Maryland’s most active developers, has joined the long-delayed Viva White Oak mixed-use project, according to a report from Washington Business Journal.

According to WBJ, the development project, initially led by Global LifeSci Development Corp., a subsidiary of Silver Spring-based Percontee Inc., over a decade ago, aims to create millions of square feet of new buildings for life science-focused commercial and residential purposes on approximately 280 mostly vacant acres. This land includes a former quarry and adjacent properties acquired by Percontee from the county in 2018. While Percontee’s website outlines a plan for 7 million square feet, a 2018 endorsement from the county’s land use regulatory body suggests a potential development capacity of up to 12 million square feet for the site.

With a once-estimated cost of $3 billion, Percontee has yet to pick up momentum on the project, however, WBJ reports a potential change on the horizon.

Global LifeSci and Baltimore-based MCB Real Estate, known for their ambitious plans in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, have officially entered a purchase and sales agreement for the development of Viva White Oak, marking a shift from due diligence to the project’s planning and design phase, according to County Executive Marc Elrich’s proposed capital budget.

The Viva White Oak news follows closely behind the ongoing construction of the White Oak Town Center, which has secured a variety of new tenants such as Dave’s Hot Chicken and First Watch, as well as a nearby 390-unit multifamily development announced in 2022.

Additionally, there have been reports indicating that Amazon Fresh is set to resume construction at its stalled White Oak Town Center location.

“We want to continue our momentum following a year where we saw expansion from major County-based companies such as AstraZeneca and United Therapeutics as well as a record low unemployment rate,” Elrich said in January. “My Recommended CIP also includes significant investments in public-private partnerships designed to spark redevelopment in the North Bethesda and White Oak areas of the County and adds funding to support the County’s collaboration with the Henry M. Jackson Foundation to develop a co-branded innovation facility, the HJF Innovation Labs at Montgomery County that will advance life science research, innovation and commercialization.”

Viva White Oak is anticipated to break ground in the latter portion of 2025, according to Elrich’s FY25 Recommended Capital Budget (PDF).

“Redevelopment of the East County is a goal that the Council and I share,” Elrich said. “This budget continues the effort to establish a public-private partnership to advance the Viva White Oak life science, mixed-use development. To that end, MCB Real Estate (MCB) and Global LifeSci Development Corporation (GLDC) have executed a purchase and sales agreement for the development of Viva White Oak, transitioning from due diligence to the project’s planning and design phase. The current schedule anticipates a groundbreaking in the latter portion of 2025 and MCB and GLDC plan to engage community stakeholders as the project progresses through design, planning and tenant interests. To date, Montgomery County has invested over $5 million for the clearing and demolition of the former “WSSC Site II” sites and my recommended budget includes $40 million to construct the roads to support this work.”

Information beyond Elrich’s statements in the capital budget is limited, according to WBJ. The available details hint that MCB may be stepping in, but do not indicate that Global LifeSci is completely out of the picture. MCB may be acquiring a majority equity position in the project, while Percontee remains involved as a passive minority stakeholder.

Percontee’s Global LifeSci Development Corp. remains active in state corporate filings and retains ownership of the land designated for Viva White Oak, according to property records.

In his budget proposal, Elrich echoes previous statements regarding Viva White Oak as a public-private partnership, highlighting that the county has already invested $5 million in land cleanup, which was subsequently sold to Global LifeSci. Furthermore, the proposal recommends an additional $40 million for road construction to support the development. The extent of potential county involvement or incentives, such as favorable property tax arrangements for the developer, is not definitively outlined.

Typically, incentives are offered for substantial projects like this, although they are not guaranteed, according to WBJ.

Rendering Courtesy of Global LifeSci Development Corp.

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