Steve Robins is a land use attorney who represents prominent national and regional developers and property owners in high-visibility projects predominantly throughout Montgomery County, Maryland.
“Steve Robins is the Montgomery County zoning guru,” says one of his developer clients. He has earned the trust and respect of decision-makers and their staffs by thinking creatively and always working to achieve his clients’ goals, while carefully considering the views of other stakeholders involved with the project. When an obstacle appears, Steve considers not only how to address it, but how to work with others to clear the way for success. One community activist began a project fighting Steve and his client, but by the end, recommended him for a substantial redevelopment opportunity. Steve is a true advocate for his clients, available to them 24/7, even emailing with clients while on a recent trip to Antarctica.
Specializing in "smart growth" development, Steve has secured approvals for many mixed-use projects near transportation hubs, including Wisconsin Place in Friendship Heights, Grosvenor Village, The Exchange in Wheaton, North Bethesda Market in White Flint, and Glenmont MetroCenter in Silver Spring. He currently is active in development and redevelopment ventures in downtown Bethesda, Rock Spring Centre, and Chevy Chase Lake.
Steve advises clients on complex development, zoning map and text amendments, sketch plan and optional method of development applications, master plan amendments, comprehensive land use planning and zoning analyses, special exception and variance applications, sector plans, preliminary and final plans of subdivisions, site plan review, condemnation matters, historic preservation and urban renewal issues, and on all aspects of the regulatory, permitting, and licensing process. He also has real estate transactional experience and is involved in lobbying efforts at the state and local levels.
Steve serves as Lerch Early's board chair and managing partner. A dedicated sports fan, he has a particular passion for his alma mater, the University of Michigan Wolverines, as well as for the Washington Redskins, Nationals, and Capitals.
New England Development had a vision of transforming the site of a Hecht’s department store with a sea of surface parking located in the epicenter of Friendship Heights directly above the Metro into one of the first truly mixed-used, transit-oriented developments in Montgomery County. The County was revising the Friendship Heights Sector Plan, and many of the communities surrounding the property were circling the wagons to limit development.
New England Development, together with our firm and the May Department Stores Company, adopted an approach radically different from the traditional developer vs NIMBYs wars typifying development at that time. We worked closely with the various major property owners and the Village of Friendship Heights to arrive at a common, integrated proposal for the Friendship Heights Sector Plan that considered the neighborhood as a whole. We then worked closely with planning and government staff and officials through the County Council’s adoption of the Sector Plan. Once the Council adopted the plan, we immediately engaged with the entire Friendship Heights community to create a development proposal that garnered community support rather than opposition. Through many meetings with community leaders, we listened to concerns and desires. For example, a hot ticket item was keeping a sense of community and the need for a recreation center. As a result, through hard work and design efforts, we incorporated a County community center into the project. This effort established significant credibility and good will.
This importance of creating consensus led to an unheard-of level of trust and support between the community and developers. Planning Board members publicly touted this project as a model of successful community outreach. New England Development, Boston Properties, and Archstone secured approvals for Wisconsin Place, which today is a million-plus square foot thriving mixed-use community, featuring more than 300,000 square feet of retail, including a Bloomingdale’s Department Store, office space leased to Microsoft, a 24,000 square foot County community center, and 432 apartments for those who wish to live, work, shop, and dine in a vibrant neighborhood atop the Metro. Since the initial approvals, we have received approval for a number of modifications and amendments, using the same model of a holistic approach coupled with community outreach to attain successful outcomes.