Soon, Public Can Track Bethesda Projects Using Online Portal

County planner says web tool will let people keep tabs on remaining development potential


Published:

A screen capture from a Montgomery County Planning Board presentation previewing the web portal.

VIA MONTGOMERY COUNTY PLANNING BOARD

Local residents soon will be able to keep track of progress on Bethesda construction projects on a continuously updated web-based portal.

Montgomery County planners are working to launch the website so that the public can follow various projects and keep track of how much remaining construction can take place in the downtown area.

The Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan, approved earlier this year, limits downtown development to 32.4 million square feet. Leslye Howerton, a county project manager, said there has been a lot of community interest in following progress toward this cutoff point, and the web portal will give them the ability to do just that.

“We have to be transparent about tracking that information,” she said.

The website will be linked to the planning department’s in-house development review system so that it will display the latest information.

Howerton said five to seven project proposals have come in since the sector plan was adopted in May, marking a significant acceleration in activity. Howerton said the square-footage cap limiting the amount of potential development gives property owners an incentive to submit their plans as soon as they can.

“It’s first come, first served,” she said.

Since the plan’s passage, property owners have moved forward on projects to build apartments on the block across from Bethesda Elementary School, a high-rise with a hotel and office space at 7359 Wisconsin Ave. and a new headquarters for Marriott International.

The projects for the Marriott headquarters, 7359 Wisconsin and an office building at Woodmont and Bethesda avenues have already claimed some of the available development density under the Bethesda plan, staff reports show.

However, Howerton cautioned that the remaining amount of allowable development is a fluid number and could go down or up as projects move forward or fizzle.

She said planning staff members are working to test the online portal and hope to have it up and running by the end of January.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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