Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bethesda Gets Affordable

The Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) scored one for the good guys last week, when the Montgomery County Planning Board approved the Edgemoor Phase IV Site Plan and, in turn, insured the construction of a new affordable housing development in Bethesda.

HOC intends to bring 12 Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDUs) to a 5,350 square foot lot at 4917 Hampden Lane in downtown Bethesda. Designed by MHG Architects, the project will take the form of a four-story, brick facade apartment building with a "traditional one-family front porch." Other amenities planned for "transitional housing" facility include a landscaped courtyard "tucked" into the building's rear and a party room for entertaining. The Planning Board has encouraged HOC to pursue LEED certification for the building.

HOC has also made an additional commitment to bring “10 percent on-site Public Use Space along the [70 feet of] frontage of Hampden Lane” – a move which should appease the numerous residents in the immediate area (after construction is wraped up, that is). The site stands along a residential-retail corridor that adjoins the upscale City Homes townhomes development- also across from the Shoppes of Bethesda shopping center and roughly 1200 feet from the Bethesda Metro.

Bringing a development made up of 100% affordable housing to Bethesda required a little bit of give-and-take from all the parties. The site was initially under the control of Hampden Associates LLC, which had planned to bring a 60-unit condo development to the site and a neighboring parcel. In December of 2004, the County proposed a landswap, wherein Hampden Associates traded 4917 for another county-owned parcel on the corner of Hampden Lane and Arlington Road. That project is still scheduled to break ground in the first half of next year.
The project also survived complaints waged by four residents with property on the street, who had been hoping to welcome the Hampden Associates project as their new neighbor and proposed moving HOC’s project to another Bethesda location. In the end, letter of support from Charles R. Loehr, Park and Planning Director of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and Peter Engel, Real Estate Division Director of HOC seemed to sway the Planning Board’s favor. Demolition of the vacant house currently standing 4917 Hampden is expected to commence early next year.


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