Thursday, April 30, 2009

JBG Seeks Approval for Bethesda Row Development Tonight



The JBG Companies will make a return appearance before the Montgomery County Planning Board tonight to seek Preliminary Project Plan approval for both phases of their Woodmont East mixed-used development in the Bethesda Central Business District. Located at the northeast side of Woodmont and Bethesda Avenues and wedged directly on one of the last vacant parcel adjoining the Bethesda Row development, the project had previously been approved for 78,300 square feet of office space, 40,350 square feet of retail, a 225 room hotel, and 250 multi-family residential units in two towers.

In the first news to come of the project since it was first announced in 2007, JBG has apparently scrapped plans for the hotel and is seeking consent for a re-jiggered development scheme with a whopping 208,579 square feet of office space, a diminutive 9,000 square feet of retail, and 250 residential units that will, in the words of the Planning Board, continue “the successful theme of mixed retail, restaurant and office uses along ‘Bethesda Row.’” The building once intended to house the hotel will instead be utilized as an office tower and the Thymes Square restaurant next door to the site at 4735 Bethesda Avenue will be razed to make way for the development.

Planning Board staff has already granted pre-approval to all three of portions of the plan. The scenario was much the same – staff approval included – when JBG presented their plan to the Board in November 2007, shortly after leasing the property from Bethesda Row developer Federal Realty Trust. In surprise move, the Board wound up denying their application, following complaints from the community about detrimental affects to the Capital Crescent Trail system and encroachment upon the neighboring movie theater. Federal Realty Trust also tried but failed to get approval for a nearly identical project at the site just weeks before that fateful turn of events.

JBG representatives would not comment on the development until after the scheduled April 30th hearing.

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