The project was scheduled to be underway last summer, but last minute wrinkles have continually held up the kickoff. With a formal groundbreaking ceremony now on the books, the next steps should happen in quick succession, beginning with closing the corner parking lot (April 10) in which Bethesdans circle endlessly on weekend evenings, then leading to closure of Woodmont Avenue (now scheduled for June 1). The county posted a sign last month stating that the lot would close April 1, a date that is inching back as construction plans are finalized.
Stephanie Coppula, Director of Marketing and Communications at Bethesda Urban Partnership, confirms that a formal groundbreaking is planned in 2 weeks. Work on the development will cause a major rerouting of traffic through Bethesda, to the extent that the county has ordered the farmer's market on Elm Street to close, and reopen at Bethesda Elementary, a move the Action Committee for Transit calls unnecessary as it puts the popular market into "a commercial dead zone."
The project has been in design since 2004, but Doug Firstenberg, Principal at StonebridgeCarras, says the timing is indicative of a project this difficult. "It's enormously complicated" says the developer of the details that had to precede the groundbreaking, noting that the project will involve a purchase of public land with public partnership for building nearly 1200 parking spaces below grade.
Bethesda-based SK&I designed the mixed-use structure occupying both sides of Woodmont Avenue. The project will consist of 40,000 s. f. of retail, and two residential buildings - The Flats, 162-unit apartment complex, and the Darcy, an 88-unit condominium building. 940 of the parking spaces will be for public use, replacing the 280 parking spaces now on the surface (which caused its own tempest), as Bethesda adds parking and braces for two and a half years of construction and reduced parking options.
The county will close Woodmont Avenue below Bethesda Avenue for an estimated twenty months as developers realign the intersection. The sounds of construction will beBethesda, Maryland real estate development news
evident throughout Bethesda as the downtown - conspicuously lacking construction cranes of late - begins to look more like downtown D.C. with Bainbridge's 17-story tower underway in Woodmont Triangle and another 17-story tower coming soon across the street.