Some of the other projects planned for the area
Marketed as an extension of Bethesda Row along Bethesda Avenue, from Woodmont to Wisconsin avenues, Woodmont East would include retail, office space and possibly a hotel. Several buildings there would remain, while others would be torn down to make way for new development. The site is the proposed western terminus of the Purple Line, and is across from a separate, mixed-use development project at Lot 31.
Where it stands: The owners and developers of the project, which include The JBG Companies and Federal Realty, have included a hotel on a revised plan filed with the Montgomery County Planning Department.
Controversy: A section of the Capital Crescent Trail runs through the site, and planners have struggled to find a way to accommodate both the recreational path and the Purple Line.
Future: “It’s pretty likely that this will move forward, but the timing isn’t clear,” says Andrew O’Hare, a member of Bethesda Urban Partnership’s board of directors and of the Woodmont Triangle Advisory Group, and a former president of the East Bethesda Citizens Association. “It’s a built-out site, so they’ll have to take some stuff down before they build.”
StonebridgeCarras and PN Hoffman plan to build a mixed-use development on Lot 31 on Bethesda Avenue, south of Woodmont Avenue. The Darcy will include 88 condos, and The Flats will include 162 apartments. There will be 40,000 square feet of retail between the two buildings, and an underground parking garage with 290 private and 940 public spaces.
Where it stands: Construction was slated to start early this year and is expected to be completed in 2013. “This one is definitely a go,” O’Hare says.
Several projects are in various stages of approval or construction on the triangle-shaped site between Old Georgetown Road and Wisconsin Avenue, including plans by the Donohoe Development Company for three separate projects under the umbrella of a concept formerly called Woodmont Central:
A six-story, 90,000-square-foot office building with 10,000 square feet of retail and restaurants at 8280 Wisconsin Ave., currently the site of a gas station on the southwest corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Battery Lane. Construction is expected to start sometime this year.
A 17-story apartment building called “The Gallery of Bethesda” at Auburn and Rugby avenues with 234 units and ground-floor retail. It’s currently the site of several two-story commercial buildings and four small parking lots. Construction is expected to begin this spring.
A 221-unit, 16-story apartment building at 4850 Rugby Ave. with 14,000 square feet of retail. Miller & Long, currently at the site, plans to move its headquarters to 8280 Wisconsin once that office is built. Construction at 4850 Rugby could start in 2013.
JBG plans to build a new police station at the intersection of Cordell Avenue and Wisconsin Avenue as part of a mixed-use development with up to 600 apartments or condos and ground-floor retail. The developers aim to submit plans early in 2012. These would include a commercial building at Wisconsin and Montgomery avenues, as well. “This one is very likely, because the county police station is part of the project, and we’d like to get that under way,” says Ken Hartman, who oversees the Woodmont Triangle Advisory Group.
JBG (with Ross Development Co. and the CIM Group) is planning a 17-story building with roughly 200 apartments and about 7,000 square feet of retail for 4900 Fairmont Ave., in the southwest quadrant of Norfolk and Woodmont avenues. In July 2011, JBG said construction could start within 18 months.
Bethesda Center: The Bernstein Companies plans to build a 200-room Westin hotel and a 250,000-square-foot office building with ground-floor retail between Woodmont and Wisconsin avenues south of Norfolk Avenue, at the current site of the Bethesda Court Hotel and the Smoothie King. O’Hare says the chances of this being built are “pretty high.” “They’ve already got financing,” he says. “I’m not sure of the exact timing, but I think it’s pretty likely.” Greg Rooney, a vice president for Bernstein, says the company expects to spend 2012 finalizing its site plan, possibly breaking ground sometime in 2013.
Bainbridge Bethesda, formerly known as The Monty, is a 17-story apartment building with 200 units and ground-floor retail at 4918 Saint Elmo Ave. It was approved in 2006. Construction started last summer, and is expected to last nearly two years.
StonebridgeCarras is planning a high-rise with 375 apartments and a 50,000-square-foot grocery store on what is known as the “Trillium site,” a vacant lot at 8300 Wisconsin Ave., which is located at the northwest corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Battery Lane. “The chances of this moving forward are very high,” Hartman says. “The fact that they have a signed tenant [in Harris Teeter] makes this a whole lot easier.” Developers hope to break ground early in 2013.
A long-range county sector plan aims to encourage redevelopment along Connecticut Avenue, near Knowles Avenue and Plyers Mill Road. Planners envision mixed-use development with new restaurants, coffee shops and retail on commuter-heavy Connecticut Avenue, which is now dominated by six gas stations.
Historic buildings would remain. “The idea is not to lose the antiques shops, but to incorporate some of them into something new,” says Charlie Maier, whose firm, Maier Warner Public Relations, represents Kensington.
Kensington Mayor Peter Fosselman says at least one development is “waiting in the wings,” noting that Konterra Limited Partnership plans to build a mixed-use apartment building on Metropolitan Avenue.
Where it stands: The sector plan was slated to be approved early this year. It would change the town’s zoning to allow greater building heights in exchange for including certain amenities, such as grocery stores, as part of a given project. The new plan would also require public hearings about proposed developments to encourage community involvement in the planning process.
Controversy: More than 80 meetings have been held in Kensington to discuss the plan, and some residents have voiced opposition to the proposed 75-foot height allowance for buildings in some parts of town.
Future: The 20-year plan aims to create a vision for the town, and to make it possible through zoning changes. “This is what could happen over the next 20 years,” Maier says. But “there’s no guarantee it’ll happen at all.”
Chevy Chase Lake
Montgomery County is studying the future development possibilities of a parcel east of Connecticut Avenue, between Manor Road and Chevy Chase Lake Drive, at the current site of Chevy Chase Lake East Shopping Center. Meanwhile, The Chevy Chase Land Company, which owns most of that site, is working on its own plans. Both involve mixed-use developments centered around the proposed Purple Line station on Connecticut Avenue.
Where it stands: The Chevy Chase Land Company is revamping its plans following a contentious public meeting last April.
Controversy: In April, residents shot down The Chevy Chase Land Company’s plan for high-rises along Connecticut Avenue, saying they would change the character of the neighborhood. The firm’s plan has “changed substantially” following community outreach efforts, says Lisa Fadden, the Land Company’s vice president of public affairs. Fadden says the company is now putting together tentative plans that would concentrate development on just a few pieces of land near the proposed Purple Line station and along Connecticut Avenue, with about half the 3 million square feet proposed in April.
Future: The Chevy Chase Land Company is trying to “re-engage the community in a dialogue about what the community is actually looking for,” Hartman says. Most proposed development would occur after the construction of the Purple Line station, which could be years away, Fadden says.
Rock Spring Centre
This proposal would create a 1 million-square-foot, mixed-use development with residential, office, hotel, retail and movie theater space in the northeast quadrant of Rockledge Drive and Rock Spring Drive, close to Walter Johnson High School. It’s currently open space, along with a town house development built in an early phase of the project.
Where it stands: It was approved by the county planning board in February 2011.
Future: In 2006, Canyon Ranch, the luxury health resort chain, announced plans to build a residential community on the site, then suspended activity later that year, citing a slowdown in the condo market. The project’s new developer, DRI Development Services, submitted a revised plan a few years ago without any serious objections being raised, according to Neil Braunstein of the Montgomery County Planning Department. Braunstein is reviewing the proposal. The developer now needs to submit a certified site plan before seeking building permits, he says. When construction might begin or end is uncertain.
The county’s Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan lays the groundwork for an expanded medical center, new research facilities, academic institutions and other life-sciences resources at and around Shady Grove Adventist Hospital and Johns Hopkins University-Montgomery County Campus, along I-270 near Gaithersburg. It would be anchored by a new Johns Hopkins University research facility on the current site of the 107-acre “Belward Farm,” owned by the university at the intersection of Darnestown Road and Muddy Branch Road. Planners envision mixed-use developments with housing and other resources for workers, all built around the Corridor Cities Transitway, a proposed bus or light rail corridor in upper Montgomery County.
Where it stands: The Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan was approved in May 2010, with implementation plans approved in 2011 that set the stage for development proposals. Steve Findley, the planner/coordinator working on the master plan, says Johns Hopkins University has county approval to build up to 1.4 million square feet at Belward Farm, but the deed granting the land to the university is the subject of a lawsuit.
Controversy: During discussions about the county master plan, residents complained that the development could add traffic to already-clogged roads. And heirs of the late Elizabeth Beall Banks, who sold Johns Hopkins her farm at a fraction of market value with stipulations that it be used primarily as a research campus, say the university’s plans fail to meet the stipulations of the deed. They claim Banks’ intent was to make the land more of a bucolic university campus than an urban mixed-use development.
Future: Much of the development allowed by the master plan is contingent upon the Corridor Cities Transitway being funded and built, the timing of which is uncertain, Findley says.
SunBrook Partners plans to build restaurants, a fitness center, shops and other retail, including a grocery store, and 2,250 homes (a mix of apartments, town houses and single-family houses) in an undeveloped area off I-270 in Gaithersburg, roughly bordered by Sam Eig Highway, Omega Drive and Fields Road. Plans call for land to be set aside for a public high school to be built in the future, and for a historic farmhouse and log cabin to be restored and preserved. Construction has begun, and the first homes are expected to start selling in June, with the grocery store slated to open in 2013 and other retail outlets following in 2014. The entire project could take 10 years to complete.
Other Hot Spots
A county sector plan approved in late 2011 aims to encourage new mixed-use redevelopment projects around Wheaton’s central business district over the next two decades, especially in the area bordered by Georgia Avenue, University Boulevard and Veirs Mill Road, around the Wheaton Metro station.
Planners envision a mixed-use biotech community for the area along Twinbrook Parkway, just north of the Beltway and east of Rockville Pike, within walking distance of the Twinbrook Metro. It’s currently home to U.S. Pharmacopeia, Food and Drug Administration offices and National Institutes of Health satellite labs. Upcoming developments include the revitalization of the 18-story Parklawn Building, which will house the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Twinbrook Station, a massive mixed-use project, the first phase of which was completed in 2010. n
Amy Reinink’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, Entrepreneur and Women’s Running. She lives in Silver Spring.