Developer Proposes Shorter Chevy Chase Lake Building
From Bethesda Now – By Aaron Kraut
The Chevy Chase Land Company thinks it has found a compromise with nearby residents by lowering the building height of a controversial apartment proposal along Connecticut Avenue.
The developer initially argued the 150-foot height was necessary to make a future apartment — with underground parking and an adjacent public green space — economically feasible for the parcel of land east of Connecticut Avenue and immediately north of a future Purple Line station. The Land Company also said the height of the building will determine the amount of land that can be dedicated to the public green space.
The Connecticut Avenue Corridor Coalition (CACC), a group of local residents, civic associations and town leaders, said the 150-foot height would contribute to more traffic on the already clogged road. CACC leaders are looking for a 120-foot height limit. Some residents are still hoping for a 90-foot height limit, as proposed in early plans from Planning Department staff.
The Planning Board agreed with the developer, recommending a 150-foot height max to the County Council.
The Land Company now says that after a recent review with its consultants, it will be able to construct a 130-foot building.
It sent word of the decision in a June 7 letter (attached at bottom) to Council Planning Committee Chair Nancy Floreen. Floreen and the Planning Committee will take up the matter and other issues in the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan in a Monday worksession.
In response to concerns from the community regarding the Planning Board's recommended 150 foot height limit for parcel B1b, the Chevy Chase Land Company worked with its development team to review the project in greater detail. Due to the high cost of construction for the underground parking, we were initially concerned that any reduction in height would render the redevelopment infeasible. In addition, we did not want to compress the building down and thereby significantly shrink the open green space that we believe is critical to the project.
However, after the review, we have determined that we are able to construct this building to a maximum height of 130 feet without compromising the project's feasibility or shrinking the proposed open space that we have shown on the plan submitted to the Planning Board and County Council. This twenty foot reduction would reduce the building's height by about two floors. While some members of the community, including the Connecticut Avenue Corridor Coalition, have requested a maximum height of 120 feet for this parcel, we believe that 130 feet is a significant and reasonable compromise.
It's a two-floor reduction, but the Land Company hopes it proves significant to neighbors in a Sector Plan process that has included a number of disagreements with multiple developers.
"It's a little bit like a puzzle. If you take from here, where do you put that? It's constantly trying to figure out how you can put all the pieces together," said Miti Figueredo, Chevy Chase Land Company's vice president for public affairs. "We didn't want to compromise the central open space. We did a level of analysis that a developer usually doesn't do at this stage in the process."
The building would have roughly 305 units. Chevy Chase Land Company is planning about 612 total units for the Phase 1 portion of development on its shopping center east of Connecticut Avenue.
In the letter, the developer also asks the Council Committee to eliminate a half-acre size requirement for the public green space or shrink it to a one-third acre requirement. The developer has reached consensus with the community on the size and general concept of the public space.
The Chevy Chase Land Company also wants the Council Committee to consider revising a recommended zoning to allow for low-rise flats or garden apartments on the west side of Connecticut Avenue near Loughborough Place. The Sector Plan now calls for a townhouse zone. The developer says the market could change by the time it's ready to develop that parcel.
PDF: Chevy Chase Land Company building height
Rendering via Chevy Chase Land Company