The White Flint Partnership, a coalition of property owners working to transform White Flint from a suburban strip to an urban hub, wants to change that. They’re looking for a marketing firm to develop a new “brand” for the White Flint Sector Plan area.
Partnership member Lerner Enterprises will fund the project. They own White Flint Mall, which will be partially demolished and redeveloped as an urban neighborhood. Francine Waters, managing director of Lerner Enterprises, hopes to “identify what would resonate the best not only locally, but regionally, nationally and internationally,” she says. “It’s not only a name but, frankly, telling the story of our journey from where we were to where we hope to achieve.”
It's an interesting question to ponder, particularly for an area such as White Flint/North Bethesda/South Rockville that suffers from something of an identity crisis. White Flint seems the most common and preferred term, but is also based on an indoor shopping mall (located, ironically, in Kensington) that is preparing to go the way of the dodo. North Bethesda is the designated census name for the area, but conjures up images of contrived realtor lingo. South Rockville is probably the most geographically accurate and was once a term used to identify the area, but that has fallen out of use and is unknown to most people. The name of this blog is meant to reflect the uncertainty/confusion regarding the name of the neighborhood in which we live.
Names are important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is because it provides people--residents and visitors alike--a point of reference for a place. When people hear the words "Dupont," "Clarendon" or "Old Town," most people have a certain mental image associated with those words. So, particularly as Montgomery County embarks on a rigorous initiative to redevelop the White Flint area into a "destination" for the region, deciding upon a single name as an identifier for the neighborhood is a crucial step.
Perhaps that name will be "White Flint," "North Bethesda," "South Rockville" or something else. We'll know in due time, but it might just end up being one of the most important decisions made about the future of the neighborhood, rivaling the size and scale of new development, transit initiatives and infrastructure enhancements. Because while everyone's attention is turned towards the various mega-developments that are set to remake the neighborhood, it will be the name of the neighborhood that will singularly garner the most attention.
Head on over to FoWF and weigh in for yourselves on the various options being bandied about. And, yes, NorthFlintVille is among them.