Bethesda Center Hotel Gets Planning Board Approval


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The developer of a luxury Westin Hotel planned for the Bethesda Court Hotel and next-door retail building got approval from the Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday and will donate $57,000 that will likely go toward a nearby Capital Bikeshare station or a collection of stations. The Board unanimously approved a new preliminary plan and site plan proposal from D.C.-based developer The Bernstein Companies, which came back with a revised plan that includes an additional 19 hotel rooms and new facades on the south side of the south building to accomodate the Bethesda Place office building property owner next door. The owner of Bethesda Place took the Bernstein Companies to court, but the parties were able to resolve their differences with regard to the 12-floor hotel proposed for right next to the existing office building that contains Comcast SportsNet, among other tenants. The 11-floor north building (7740 Wisconsin Ave.) of the Bernstein development will go on the site of the existing Bethesda Court Hotel. The two buildings will be separated by a 36-foot-wide pedestrian walk-thru area that will include public art, a waterfall-like feature and a modern piece of architecture. The space, however, will not be able to accomodate a Capital Bikeshare station, so the developer asked that its $57,000 payment toward a general Traffic Mitigation Fund be appropriated for a nearby Bikeshare station. The estimated cost for one Bikeshare facility is $25,000 for installation, according to a Planning Department staff member. The rest of the $57,000 donation would pay for 12 years of operating costs. The staff member said a Bikeshare station at nearby Veterans Park could make sense, but the Montgomery County Department of Transportation will determine how the money is used.
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