Brookfield To Present Concept for High-Rise at Bethesda Metro Center Plaza

Developer envisions ground-level retail with housing or offices on upper floors


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A rendering of a development planned at Bethesda Metro Center Plaza.

BROOKFIELD PROPERTY PARTNERS

Talk of developing the Bethesda Metro Center Plaza is about to heat up again as property owners prepare plans for a 500,000-square-foot building and a retail promenade.

With the forthcoming proposal, construction at the much-debated site could start in less than three years, said Simon Carney of Brookfield Property Partners.

Carney said the plans are still in a conceptual stage, but Brookfield is looking to tear down the plaza food court and replace it with a high rise. Shopping and dining could range from 6,000 to 8,000 square feet on the ground floor, with either offices or housing above, Carney said.

Major pieces of the proposal—such as the building’s use, height and footprint size—are still undetermined, and Brookfield wants to keep its options open until later in the planning process, he added, but the company wants to turn the lackluster plaza into a more welcoming open space.

Carney said the plan calls for installing more pedestrian-friendly walkways and redesigning the area so tenants and passersby want to spend time there.

This project and the upgrades coming to the neighboring Hyatt Regency Bethesda could transform the plaza area into an active hub for shopping and dining, he said.

“We want to make it something that Bethesda residents will come in and use. Our goal is not to put a Starbucks in there and say we’re done,” Carney said.

Brookfield will present the concept for 4 Bethesda Metro Center to community members Oct. 11 before submitting it to the Montgomery County Planning Department.

The company bought 3 Bethesda Metro Center in 2011 and, three years later, pitched the idea of constructing a building next door. The proposal drew fierce resistance from Clark Enterprises, which has a building overlooking the plaza and didn’t want the view blocked by a new high-rise.

The two sides last year reached a compromise that would allow the new construction, but call on both companies to renovate the Metro bus bays near the site and contribute green space.

Since then, county leaders also approved the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan that increased the property’s height limit to 290 feet.

“We saw it (the sector plan) as an opportunity to create a new development in the middle of Bethesda that would be a world-class building that Bethesda could be proud of,” Carney, the senior vice president of Brookfield’s U.S. office division, said.

Brookfield is scheduled to hold a community meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.