Bob Harris is a land use and real estate attorney who helps landowners strategically improve the use and value of their real estate. He represents commercial, residential, and institutional landowners before planning commissions, courts, government agencies, and elected officials to obtain development approvals and protect land use rights in Montgomery County, Maryland and surrounding jurisdictions.
Leading legal guide Chambers USA describes Bob as “engaged, knowledgeable, and insightful,” and The Best Lawyers in America twice has named him Washington, DC's Land Use & Zoning "Lawyer of the Year." He brings a gimlet-like focus to housing (multifamily, walkable infill, single family, and senior), mixed-use, office, retail, and new urbanism projects. His clients include Brookfield Office Properties, Carr Properties, EYA, The JBG Companies, Pulte Homes, Simon Premium Outlets and Winchester Homes.
Bob advises and represents clients in land development and real estate, including master planning, zoning, subdivision, site plans, and special exceptions. This includes advocating in legislative matters at both local and state levels, and participating in court proceedings. He is experienced in issues like smart growth, traffic management, adequate public facilities controls, public infrastructure, mixed-use planned development, environmental issues, urban design, affordable housing, real estate taxation, and historic preservation.
Bob is a Life Director of the Maryland Building Industry Association, he holds various positions with the Urban Land Institute, and he is a former Chair of the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce.
When he’s not working, Bob, who was raised in Montgomery County, enjoys being outdoors. He is an avid skier, and has been to more than 40 resorts in five different countries. He also plays golf and bikes. After a workout, he takes pleasure in good food and wine; fortunately, his wife is a gourmet cook.
A consortium of businesses wished to transform plans for a hospital and medical offices on a 68-acre portion of the Cabin Branch mixed use community in Clarksburg to a 450,000 square foot outlet. The project faced intense resistance from a competing outlet operator, which vigorously opposed the zoning change because they wanted to build a competing center just across the highway. We represented Simon Properties, one of the largest retail property owners/developers in the world.
Serving as lead land use counsel, we demonstrated to planning and government officials that this was an important economic opportunity for Montgomery County and Clarksburg. The retail center would bring 1,800 new jobs, and, unusual for an outlet center, would include activity and performance spaces and complete pedestrian and bicycle trails connected to local parks and communities. Issues included revisions to the development plan, securing site plan approvals, road widening, electric power substation issues and the water quality protection.
Ultimately, the project was designated as a Strategic Economic Development Project by the County Executive. We secured all approvals for the first phase of the project, and Clarksburg Premium Outlets opened in 2016.
Apex Building: Representing Carr Properties in a 960,000 SF mixed-use redevelopment of the Apex Building in downtown Bethesda, including access to Red Line and Purple Line Metro stations and the Capital Crescent Trail. http://www.carrprop.com/properties/7272-wisconsin/
Brookfield Office Properties: Representing Brookfield in approvals for a new building above the Bethesda Metro Center.
Clarksburg Premium Outlets: Serve as lead land use counsel for mixed-use community for Simon Properties, one of the largest retail property owners/developers in the world, on a major outlet center and related uses. The outlet center portion of the property opened in 2016. http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/clarksburg
Cabin Branch: Serve as lead land use counsel for a group of builders/developers working on a 540 acre planned community in Clarksburg, providing for 1900 homes and 2 million SF of commercial development. Construction began in 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_nmJDe-dE8
Chelsea Heights: For one of many EYA projects, served as lead land use counsel for the redevelopment of the former site of the Chelsea School adjacent to downtown Silver Spring. Obtained approvals for rezoning the property for townhome and MPDU use, subdivision and site plan. Neighboring homeowners vigorously opposed the approvals, resulting in an appeal to the Montgomery County Circuit Court. Successfully defended that appeal. Chelsea Heights completed construction in 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK2krEcwxgo
Bainbridge Shady Grove: Secured approval for a 417 unit project at Shady Grove, including successfully defending an appeal to the Montgomery County Circuit Court. http://bainbridgeshadygrovemetro.com/
Fallsgrove: Represented a consortium of builders/developers who conceived and obtained zoning approvals for the 270 acre Fallsgrove mixed-use planned community in Rockville. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW2AjWh2q7o
Fenwick Station: Represented Insight Property Group in approvals for a six-story, 310-unit luxury apartment development two blocks from the Silver Spring Metro Station. Built to LEED Silver specifications, it includes 39 affordable units within the mix of studios, one and two-bedroom apartments and offers 11,000 SF of amenity space. Site features include a public plaza, a Capital Bikeshare station, and a walking and biking trail. http://www.fenwickapts.com/gallery/
Bethesda Row: Served as land use counsel for mixed-use project developed by Federal Realty that transformed downtown Bethesda.
Chevy Chase Trust Building: Obtained master plan and zoning approvals for one of the largest office buildings in Montgomery County.
GEICO: Ongoing representation for GEICO’s headquarters interests in Friendship Heights, including approvals for future redevelopment with 800,000 SF of office space and 500 multi-family townhome units.