Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Monty: St. Elmo's Spire


According to sources close to the project, developer Monty LLC's planned-17-story, mixed-use building, The Monty, located at St. Elmo and Fairmont Avenues in Bethesda's Woodmont Triangle, may witness development activity within the next few months.

Robert Kronneberg, Lead Reviewer for the Montgomery County Planning Commission, confirms that the site plan for the project was approved last July, with final plans approved just this past February, finalizing all county reviews needed for the project. So if the details of the design are finalized and the site plan has been approved, does that mean building permits are on the horizon?

According to the architects at SK&I, the "owner is working on getting financing like anyone else," but they are "hoping to break ground by September or October of this year." Kronnenberg says Hillerson has sent consultants to meet with Planning Board staff "to look at the streetscape requirements," but adds carefully that "in terms of any kind of permits that have been submitted for buildings, I don't know that right now."

The SK&I design for The Monty will include up to 200 residential units, 7,700 s.f. of ground floor retail and and 5,500 s.f. of "animated" art experience, according to the artist - when it gets off the ground. Project Manager and Senior SK&I Associate, Marty Towles, says his team was proud to help usher in such a large-scale project in a neighborhood notorious for its abundance of "low-rise" single family homes.

"The design of the building on the 15th floor takes advantage of the views to the south of the city and panoramas over to Rosslyn," says Towles enthusiastically, who adds that planned amenities like The Monty's rooftop pool and sweeping terraces are not currently so easy to come by in Woodmont Triangle.

The owner behind Monty LLC's corporate veil is Robert Hillerson, the same developer whose Limited Liability Corp., Michael LLC, became entangled in a dispute with the Maryland Transit Authority over its Studio Plaza project. Located at the intersection of Georgia and Thayer Avenue in Silver Spring's Business District, Studio Plaza's ambitious plans call for 525 residential units and redevelopment of the public parking lot adjacent to the Purple Line. MTA got wind of the idea and lobbied to keep the lot vacant so it could be used in conjunction with future Purple Line development.

MTA eventually backed off from its parking lot crusade and Studio Plaza finally shows signs of moving forward. But with so many large-scale residential/mixed-use projects downsizing and sputtering to a halt inside the beltway, Hillerson is understandably uneasy when it comes to speculating about potential groundbreaking dates for his Monty project.

When asked about when his project will get off the ground, Hillerson told DCMud that he "would rather not talk about that project for a couple of months. But call me back June 17th." A developer with an exact date in mind for updates? Is that a sign of progress?

The architects are optimistic, and surmise that the developer is merely setting expectations. Towles reiterates that the developer's reticence to talk about the project until June could be a sign that Hillerson "wants to make sure everything's set in stone" before making any public announcements about groundbreaking dates. But since no one else is breaking ground in Woodmont Triangle, despite a surfeit of plans, one can't be too careful.

Silver Spring, Maryland Real Estate Development News

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