Plan Being Formulated To Move Historic Community Hardware Building

County official says move could happen in the next two months


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The historic former Community Paint and Hardware Building

Andrew Metcalf

Carr Properties is working with Montgomery County to finalize a plan to move the historic former Community Paint and Hardware Building on Wisconsin Avenue to a surface parking lot in downtown Bethesda in order to make way for the Apex Building’s demolition and redevelopment.

County Transportation Director Al Roshdieh said Tuesday that Carr Properties will be moving the building, also known as the Wilson Store, from 7250 Wisconsin Ave. to Lot 41, the county surface parking lot on Middleton Lane.

Roshdieh said he did not know exactly when the building will be moved, but that it could happen within the next two months.

“It seems like they’re getting closer,” Roshdieh said.

Roshdieh said Carr may cut the building in half, move the two halves on trucks to the lot and then put the building back together at the site.

Esther Bowring, a county transportation spokeswoman, however, said that exactly how the developer plans to move the building is “speculative” at this point.

Alison Wertzler, a senior director with Carr Properties who county officials said is overseeing the move, did not respond to multiple requests this week for comment about the company’s plans.

Before moving the building, Roshdieh said, the company will have to prepare the parking lot by constructing a site pad and performing necessary utility work. The county will provide at least 30 days’ notice to people who use the parking lot before the building is moved, he said. The historic structure will occupy about nine parking spaces and will be owned by the county after it’s relocated. The county plans to find a new tenant to lease the building, possibly a law firm or doctor’s office, Roshdieh said.

Lot 41 on Middleton Lane in Bethesda. Credit: Andrew Metcalf

Scott Whipple, supervisor of the county’s historic preservation unit, said plans for the building’s location are subject to a review by his department. Carr is required to provide his office with plans detailing how the building will be moved and what it will look like at the new site, as well as with permits related to the demolition of the Apex Building next to the historic structure. Whipple said Carr can’t move the building until it’s necessary for demolition on the Apex Building to proceed.

“To date, the applicant [Carr] hasn’t satisfied these conditions,” Whipple said Wednesday. “They’re working to do that.”

He said the historic preservation review “won’t take very long” after Carr provides his office with the information.

A pending court case involving a Town of Chevy Chase resident could impact the building’s move. Deborah Vollmer filed an appeal in Montgomery County Circuit Court last month over the county’s Board of Appeals decision to dismiss a case she filed along with fellow town resident John Fitzgerald and Bethesda businessman Gautam Prakash that opposed the relocation of the historic building.

The Board of Appeals dismissed their case in April after ruling the residents lacked standing to contest the historic work permit Carr received from the county allowing the building’s relocation.

The building dates back to 1890 and the county designated it historic in the 1980s. Carr is planning to redevelop the Apex Building site into three towers up to 290 feet tall with 480 residential units and plans to build the Bethesda Purple Line station underneath the project.

Fitzgerald is among the three plaintiffs in the ongoing Purple Line case that has delayed the start of construction on the 16.2-mile light-rail.

Attorneys representing the county and Carr in the circuit court case did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the case Friday.

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