Kol Shalom Synagogue

Base building construction of a synagogue on 4.8 acres in Rockville, Maryland

17,500 SF14.5 monthsShinberg LevinasNot disclosed

Base building construction of a synagogue on 4.8 acres in Rockville, Maryland. The first phase of a multi-phase project included all utilities, landscaping, and parking for the complete master plan. The Phase 1 building was constructed with provisions for adding another wing in the rear and a second floor on the single-story school wing. The project as designed is the first LEED gold synagogue in the United States incorporating such sustainable systems as a geothermal HVAC system and a green roof.

The Challenge

The City of Rockville was under a two-year building moratorium while the zoning regulation was rewritten. As this project was in a residential zone, regulations concerning building height, setbacks, and other site requirements were in flux. In addition, the entire site plan approval process was being revamped. New statewide stormwater regulations were on the books and it was not known if the project could be submitted before the new regulations went into effect. Design work could not be finalized until the new zoning regulations were in place. The time to construct the new building was short as the Congregation continued to carry the vacant land and lost membership opportunities. The project team needed to keep the design process moving, be first out of the box when the moratorium was lifted, and navigate an entirely new City approval process to minimize the downtime to the Congregation.

The Solution

“The two biggest challenges on this project were navigating the new zoning regulations and site approval process and then making sure we could afford to build the project. As the new zoning regulations began to take shape Blake managed to move the design team forward with elements of the plan that were not likely to change while advising us on where we stood against the project budget as design decisions were made. Once the moratorium was lifted Blake Real Estate showed us how we could speed through the new approval process by working closely with the City planning staff and our immediate neighbors without incurring the expense of hiring a land use attorney. As the design progressed Blake came up with a number of innovative cost savings ideas including; precisely locating the project entrance to avoid moving a utility pole which saved an estimated $75,000, negotiating with the owner of an adjacent commercial development to pay their 6 figure fair share for off-site improvements mandated by the City as part of our final site plan approval, and working with the City planning staff to avoid the installation of a $100,000.00 underground transformer.”

– Deb Finkelstein, Executive Director, Kol Shalom