Developer Plans Mid-Rise Residential Project Along Arlington Road In Bethesda

ZOM Mid-Atlantic has assembled six of the properties at Arlington Road and Moorland Lane


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Concept sketch of a mid-rise residential building along Arlington Road near the corner of Moorland Lane

Via Montgomery County Planning Department/ZOM Mid-Atlantic

A developer hopes to build a 75-foot-tall residential building across the street from Bethesda Elementary School after assembling six properties over the last year.

ZOM Mid-Atlantic, a McLean, Virginia-based developer, presented a concept sketch of the project Thursday during the Planning Board’s work session on the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan.

The company said it has a contract agreement to buy the properties at 4816, 4820 and 4910 Moorland Lane and 7507, 7509, 7511 Arlington Road and is close to agreeing on a contract for the property at 7505 Arlington Road.

Andy Cretal, senior vice president at ZOM Mid-Atlantic, told the board the project depends on getting zoning for a 75-foot maximum height on most of the site, a 60-foot maximum height along Arlington Road and more density than recommended by county planners working on the sector plan.

He also pointed to the difficulties of assembling seven properties from different owners.

The properties now have single-family detached homes built in the 1920s and 1930s. Most have been converted to office use. One, the house at 7505 Arlington Road, is still operating as a single-family residence, according to a lawyer for the family that has owned it since 1937.

Some of the properties along Arlington Road that could be redeveloped as part of the proposed project. Credit: Aaron Kraut

“The idea here is that we’ve been able to cobble together six [properties], hopefully seven very soon here and that’s not easy to do,” Cretal told the board. “If we can’t get the density that makes the economics work for the people that currently own those buildings, I don’t know when the stars are going to align again.”

Three Planning Board commissioners, Marye Wells-Harley, Norman Dreyfuss and Amy Presley, voted to support ZOM Mid-Atlantic’s zoning request Thursday, while Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson and Commissioner Natali Fani-Gonzalez expressed concerns about the proposed building’s height and density on the edge of downtown Bethesda and near the single-family home neighborhood of Edgemoor.

Heather Dlhopolsky, a land-use attorney representing ZOM Mid-Atlantic, pointed to the playing fields at across-the-street Bethesda Elementary School as a large enough barrier between the proposed building and the nearest single-family homes.

Cretal said the developer has hired Silver Spring-based architecture firm Torti Gallas and Partners for the project.

The architect’s concept sketch plan showed a mid-rise building with balconies facing a tree-lined Arlington Road.

The Planning Board is scheduled to hold at least three more work sessions on the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan and could revise its zoning recommendation made Thursday before sending the plan to the County Council for final approval.

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