New Bethesda Police Station Up in the Air as Developer Backs Out
The developer in a public-private land swap deal to build a new Bethesda police station has backed out, leaving plans up in the air for a replacement to the more than 50-year-old existing station. Developer JBG Cos. sent Montgomery County a letter advising it will not take part in a County Council-approved deal that would have put a new police station on Cordell Avenue, between Wisconsin and Woodmont Avenues, according to Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Director Ken Hartman. As we reported in October, JBG Cos. did not purchase all the property at the site because of financial concerns. JBG's Frank Craighill said severe changes in the market did not make it financially feasible for the company to purchase the land. That left the company looking for alternative locations. Now, they will pull out of the project altogether. They will still build on the already purchased southern end of the property, between Woodmont and Wisconsin Avenues, but apparently could not acquire a separate property on Cordell Avenue. They are scheduled to go before the Planning Board with the smaller, reconfigured project early next year. Hartman said it's the county's goal to use the $9 million in public funding set aside for the project to find a new site or potentially rebuild on the police station's current site, at 7359 Wisconsin Ave. "We're looking if there's another location or if we can rebuild it in its current location," Hartman told a meeting of the Woodmont Triangle Action Group this morning. "We don't want another three years stuck without a new facility." The deal would have given JBG the land of the existing station in exchange they take on most of the costs of building the station on the Cordell Avenue site. The county was due to contribute a little more than $9 million to the estimated $21 million project. The station would have been 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 budget, too small to meet the requirements of the 24-hour police station. The building also requires major upgrades and faces security concerns.