Bethesda Police Station Project May Need New Location
The public-private land swap deal to build a replacement for the more than 50-year-old Bethesda police station has hit a snag, according to county officials and developer JBG Cos. In May 2011, Montgomery County agreed to give JBG the land of the existing 2nd District police station at 7359 Wisconsin Ave. for a 400-unit apartment building. In exchange, JBG agreed to help the county build a new station on Cordell Avenue, between Wisconsin and Woodmont Avenues within five years. JBG's Frank Craighill today confirmed the company was not able to purchase all of the properties at the agreed upon site (7900 Wisconsin Ave.) because of severe changes in the market, which is forcing JBG and Montgomery County to look at other potential locations for the station. "There will be a slight delay until we can finalize all the details," Craighill said. "When we started talking about this deal in 2006 or 2007, there was a different market at that time and a lot of the options were negotiated before the recession in 2008. When we came back, there were specific property owners there that wanted to kind of renegotiate at prices that didn't make economic sense for us." Craighill and County spokesman Patrick Lacefield each said the parties are going to meet to discuss how to proceed, either at Cordell Avenue or at another location. The county is due to contribute a little more than $9 million to the estimated $21 million project. The station will be 30,000 feet on three floors with approximately 44 underground parking spaces, according to the capital budget. The existing station is 21,700 square feet and, according to the plan, too small to meet the requirements of the 24-hour police station. The building also requires major upgrades and faces security concerns. While presenting plans for the new police station in September 2011, JBG representatives said construction could begin in early 2013 and finish in 2015. The new police station would have been part of a larger 600,000-square-foot apartment building and ground-floor retail project on Cordell Avenue. At the time the County Council approved the deal, David Dise, director of the county's Department of General Services, said JBG would face fines if construction was delayed beyond five years, The Gazette reported.