Bethesda Chevy Chase Rescue Squad Explores Redevelopment
The rescue squad's president says redevelopment of the valuable land could help fund a new station.
BCC Rescue Squad Website
The Bethesda Chevy Chase Rescue Squad on Battery Lane sits on land currently valued by the state at $4.1 million, but it could be worth much more. The 90,569-square-foot parcel is located just blocks from Bethesda hotspots such as the Metro station and Bethesda Row.
Currently, the land is used for the rescue station and its parking lot, but that could change significantly if the county approves a zoning request change for the site.
The rescue squad is asking to change the property’s zoning from residential to transit station residential, which would permit the construction of multistory buildings at the location.
Brooke Davies, the rescue squad’s president, said she believes the land could be valued as high as $20 million or more with a zoning change. She said the rescue squad could then work out a deal where it could fund a new station at the same location with a developer interested in building on some of the land.
“What has driven us to investigate the possibility of redeveloping the land is essentially a two-fold issue,” said Davies. “We have been facing some significant financial hurdles…[and] at the same time we also need a new facility, which is approximately in the neighborhood of $9 to $10 million. We certainly don’t have the money to pay for a new facility, nor the collateral to get a loan.”
Davies said that a recent decision by the Town of Chevy Chase to provide a $60,000 subsidy rather than fund $230,000 for a new ambulance made the squad aware that local jurisdictions were questioning the status of the squad’s finances. In response, she said the squad is exploring the option of selling or leasing some of the land to fund the new station.
She said currently the development plan is in its infancy, but that the key part of the plan is that the rescue squad station will remain on the land.
“The concept we have right now is to build a new rescue squad station to the right of where it is now, so we don’t have to move,” said Davies, who added that moving could create issues with response times. “Then we’d tear down the old one, and that’s potentially where residential building would be.”
The county has scheduled a session with the hearing examiner on Sept. 12, but the planning board first must make a recommendation on the zoning request.
Bethesda Now first reported the zoning change as well as preliminary plans for the redevelopment of Bethesda Fire Department Station [BFD] #6 at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Bradley Boulevard. In that case, BFD board member Nat Finkelstein told the local news blog that BFD is exploring the idea of partnering with a developer to build a modern fire station combined with residential or retail uses. Finkelstein said nothing will be done at that station without the approval of the county government.