Monday, January 22, 2007

Development Wrestling Won't End Soon

(Cross-posted on Maryland Politics Watch)

The Montgomery County Council continues to debate the form, content, and purpose of the proposed moratorium on development. A quick review of projects in progress or on the boards in downtown Bethesda shows why this issue is just not going to die away soon. Indeed, the amendments made in 2005 to the Bethesda Master Plan for the Woodmont Triangle area will likely lead to much greater levels of density in the area. The following is likely an incomplete list but it gives an idea of the scale of things to come in downtown Bethesda:

Already Under Construction

1. Lionsgate at the corner of Woodmont Ave. and Old Georgetown Rd. (where Olsson's and Flanagan's used to be located) will contain 158 new condo units as well as retail on the ground floor.

2. The Adagio on Wisconsin Ave. just north of Bradley Blvd. is behind schedule but under construction on Wisconsin Ave. The website says that the condos will be priced between $500,000 and $2 million.

Development Officially Proposed or Approved

1. Signs proclaiming that a development proposal has been filed have appeared in front of Thyme Square Cafe and the Landmark Cinemas located at Woodmont Ave. and Bethesda Ave. This property lies right next to where the Capital Crescent Trail enters the tunnel under Wisconsin Ave. (the trail reemerges by Elm St. Park in the Town of Chevy Chase). The existing restaurant and nightclub would disappear so that the proposed 14-story building containing a hotel, condos, office space, and retail could be built.

2. A 10-story condo building has been proposed for Rugby Ave. in the Woodmont Triangle.

3. Contruction for a new hotel is supposed to start soon by the Air Rights Building on Waverly Ave. just east of Wisconsin Ave.

4. The County has approved a request to rezone 7001 Arlington Rd. from C-4 to PD-4. I think that this plan entails building condos over the currently existing Post Office. This plan may beautify the area across the street from the Bradley Shopping Center as the Post Office, while incredibly useful and well located, is not all that attractive. I believe that the condo building proposed is relatively low in height.

5. On Hampden La, a proposal has been filed to build 60 condo units in a building that would range in height from three to seven stories.

6. On Old Georgetown Rd., a developer has filed a proposal to rezone land from R-60 to PD-44 or PD-68. R-60 is the zoning code for single-family residential homes with a 6000 square foot minimum lot size. PD-44 or PD-68 zoning would allow for much higher density as it is the zoning code for a planned development with 44 or 68 units per acre, respectively.

7. Proposals for a new building in the parking lot located at Woodmont Ave. and Bethesda Ave. opposite Barnes and Noble's bookstore have long been debated. My understanding is that the new building will contain condo units, including some affordable housing, as well as retail on the ground floor. A parking lot containing more spaces than the exisiting lot is to be constructed beneath the building. During construction, Woodmont Ave. between Bethesda Ave. and Leland St. will have to be closed off entirely to traffic for at least one year.

The post on Maryland Politics Watch further discusses two additional proposals rumored to occur in the future.


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