Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Air Rights Center Gets an Addition

The Bethesda block known as the Air Rights Center, currently featuring a 12-story office building and the 14-story, 216-room Hilton Garden Inn Hotel, is set to become a bit denser, as another 9-story office building will soon replace the smallest building on the southeast corner of the site. Chevy Chase residents adjacent to downtown Bethesda voiced concerns over the scale of the proposed office buildings upon its initial unveiling to the community. Begrudgingly resigned to the fact that the Purple Line train will soon be roaring through their backyards, residents seemingly decided to take their frustrations out on Donohoe. In the wake of the public pressure, developers compromised, using several setbacks to lower the residential-abutting facade to the recommended 60 feet and concentrate the height towards the center of the block, reaching 97 feet at its tallest point. Rewarding the flexibility of developers and their design partner BBG-BBGM, the Montgomery County Planning Board granted the approval to the applicant's proposal.

Fronting 7300 Pearl Street, the facade seems like a simplistic amalgamation of glass, concrete, and right angles, but a side-view from Montgomery Avenue offers a more textured and interesting vantage. Developers appeased the neighboring community not only with design successions, but will also redevelop a northern portion of Elm Street Park, just south of the development across the Capitol Crescent Trail. While their generosity may be genuine, it's not exactly altruistic, a twenty percent public space requirement is demanded by the Montgomery County development approval process. But all that green wasn't quite enough, as developers will put more on the roofs of the building in their efforts to earn LEED Silver Certification (also a MoCo prerequisite).

The cost to reconstruct the proposed portion of the park totals roughly $1 million. The project's landscape architect Parker Rodriquez has already offered designs for the park, while Donohoe will pony up $550,000-$600,000 for the actual improvements, including infrastructure, paving, lighting, fencing, landscape planting, signs, etc. The Chevy Chase Parks Department must approve a final design for the park, and finance the remaining balance. The Montgomery County Planning Board stipulated that no building use or occupancy permits will be issued until the park improvements are completed. Developers believe their compliance with the required park improvements could happen as early as 2012, with the office building delivery following shortly after.

Bethesda, MD Real Estate Development News


Anonymous said...

I've always wondered Air Rights over What? Bethesda residents are lucky. With limited height restrictions their buildings can have setbacks and architectural diversity. In DC the height limit leaves us with a collection of pretty boring boxes downtown.

Anonymous said...

It's the air rights over the old coal train tracks that used to run under the East and West towers.

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