Housing Opportunities Commission chair Roy Priest speaks during a community event announcing the development plan. Credit: Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission

Montgomery County leaders announced the redevelopment of the historic Emory Grove community in Gaithersburg on June 19.

Heritage Emory Grove is a mixed-use development project arranged by the Housing Opportunities Commission, Emory Grove United Methodist Church, Montgomery County, Habitat for Humanity and other partners, according to a press release. The project will bring about affordable housing and other amenities on more than 30 acres of land just north of Midcounty Highway, at the intersection of Washington Grove Lane and Emory Grove Road.

Housing Opportunities Commission chair Roy Priest said the development will have a “town center feel” featuring affordable market-rate homes, senior rental apartments and mixed-use housing and commercial space.

Priest said he expects the full project to take around three to five years.

Freed African Americans founded Emory Grove in 1864, according to Heritage Emory Grove’s website. At its peak, around 500 residents lived on 300 acres of land in the community.

The Emory Grove United Methodist Church remains as one of few remnants of the historic community, the release read. Proposed redevelopment will center around the church as the historical center.


Parts of the redevelopment are meant to encourage community connectedness and interdependency, Priest said. Heritage Emory Grove will create walking paths, provide space for community gardening and engage with residents through youth sports programming, recreational activities and intentional community-building.

The redevelopment will include renovating Johnson’s Local Park, which was acquired by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in 1974, according to Carol Rubin, commissioner of the Montgomery County Planning Board.

Johnson’s Local Park will be one of the first parks in the “Untold Stories Initiative,” a project highlighting historically significant stories in Montgomery County’s diverse communities, Rubin said.


Rubin described this project as a partnership between the county government, the Housing Opportunities Commission and the community.

“We can finally look at all the incredible cultural and historic resources that we have here,” she said.

Christine Zhu of Gaithersburg, a rising junior who is studying journalism and Spanish at the University of Maryland, is the Bethesda Beat summer intern.