Condo Developer Talks Plans For Art Incubator Space


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A four-studio art incubator space part of a planned downtown condo is coming into focus. Chevy Chase-based developer Starr Capital will go to the Planning Board next month with a proposal for a 17-story, 72-unit luxury condo at 4990 Fairmont Ave., the site of a shuttered BP gas station. The project includes ground floor retail and four levels of parking immediately above, so residents can overlook the county's Lot 11 garage next door. As its public amenity, Starr Capital has proposed dedicating 2,000 square feet of the ground floor space to the county, which would then hand over management of the property to the Bethesda Urban Partnership. BUP would lease out four art studios with separate entrances to the alley between the condo and Lot 11. This alley between the shuttered BP gas station and county parking garage on Old Georgetown Road could be the entrance to a future art incubatorStarr Capital would build an overhang above the first floor studios to expand the alley's width from five feet to 10 and hopes to project the artists' work onto the cinder block garage wall across the way. An art incubator space has been an objective of BUP and some members of the Woodmont Triangle Action Group (an advisory group made up of residents, business reps and developers) since a similar plan for the 8300 Wisconsin development fell through. Attorney Bob Dalrymple, from Bethesda-based Linowes and Blocher, said Starr Capital will work off of the agreement worked up for the 8300 Wisconsin project. At the Woodmont Triangle Action Group's meeting on Friday morning, Dalrymple asked for and got the advisory board's support for the project. Starr Capital is planning roughly 100 parking spaces for the four levels of above-grade parking, which will be outfitted with glass and other materials to make it look the same as the rest of the building. The 100 spaces is more than the zoning code allows for, so the developer will have to pay into a parking fund, pending the outcome of the zoning code rewrite discussion going on at the County Council. The developer is looking for suggestions on how to utilize the four columns that must be built to support the building outside of the studios. One WTAG member suggested putting art inside or wrapping it around the columns. BUP is looking at minimum one-year leases for each of the studios, which could include signage that declares the alley as an Art Walk or something similar.

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