First Redevelopment Project for Bethesda’s Pearl District Wins Initial Approval

Developers plan residential building with first-floor retail


Published:

Rendering of the project at 4540 Montgomery Ave., as seen from Pearl Street looking northwest.

Via Montgomery County Planning Department

County planning officials Thursday signed off on the first redevelopment project for Bethesda’s Pearl District.

Promark Development is looking to replace a surface parking lot with a 145-foot-tall mixed-use building that would bring residents and retailers to the corner of Pearl Street and Montgomery Avenue. Pat Harris, a land-use attorney representing Promark, said that area of Bethesda has been somewhat overlooked so far.

“So we’re excited that this project will somewhat jump-start this portion of the redevelopment of Bethesda,” she said.

The Montgomery County Planning Board unanimously approved the sketch plan for the 61,250-square-foot project.

Illustration of the mixed-use project developers are planning at the corner of Pearl Street and Montgomery Avenue. Via Montgomery County Planning Department.

Planning staff hope to see redevelopment enliven the Pearl District, an area east of Waverly Street and north of the Capital Crescent Trail.

As part of its project, Promark has agreed to contribute funds to transform Pearl Street into a “shared street,” where drivers, cyclists and pedestrians could coexist.

Mary Flynn, the mayor of the town of Chevy Chase, spoke during the meeting to ask that developers take residents nearby into consideration as the project progresses. Among other things, she requested that developers think about how to suppress light pollution and noise that might otherwise disrupt the surrounding community.

County planner Leslye Howerton said that by bringing first-floor retail to the corner site, the redevelopment project at 4540 Montgomery Ave. could contribute to turning Pearl Street into more of a “main street.”

“This would really, hopefully, start to catalyze that vision,” she said.

The site stands a short distance from the Capital Crescent Trail and the future Purple Line, and the proposed building could act as an “eastern gateway” for travelers along these routes, the planning staff has said.

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

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