Monday, August 15, 2011

Bainbridge Starting on 17-Story Bethesda Apartments

If Bethesda Row has bloomed into the urban village experience, Woodmont Triangle may one day be its downtown. While no large projects have begun in the quadrant just north of Bethesda Row - though many have been planned - that is about to change in a big way. The Bainbridge Companies will begin construction this week on their 17-story, highly amenitized apartment building a few blocks north of the Bethesda Metro station. Once known as the Monty, the project will be rebranded as "Bainbridge Bethesda" by the Florida based developer.

One of the tallest projects in the area, the apartment building will feature a four-story underground parking garage and is meant to animate both the skyline and street level, the former with its height and periodically receding facade, and the latter with a new pedestrian boulevard that will feature retail and art, breaking up the block and endowing the building with a corner presence.
Some sources say the project could cost $80m to build. The selling feature, to developers, is the raised amenities, placed at the top to take advantage of views over Bethesda and Washington D.C. The building will feature a gym leading out to a 15th floor terrace and rooftop pool. "Obviously that's really expensive real estate that high that we're forgoing, but its the kind of thing that inspires people on a daily basis" says Josh Wooldridge, Senior Development Director with Bainbridge. "You just can't compare that to a gym in a basement."

The project is a long time coming, having been before the county planning board for 5 years. Bainbridge purchased the site with approvals last summer, and expected to break ground almost immediately, but equity issues have held up construction, which has been billed as nearly imminent since that time. Now Bainbridge has corralled equity partners, including Greek shipping company Restis Group and DC-based National Real Estate Advisors, along with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to provide the needed capital, having closed on financing just two weeks ago today. Since the county adopted the Woodmont Sector Plan 6 years ago, no highrises have been built in the area (Lionsgate was planned previously).

Bainbridge will now start 3-4 weeks of demolition, followed by an estimated 18-20 months of construction. The building will take over mostly vacant retail space, replacing it with a 20-foot wide pedestrian passageway that links Fairmont and St. Elmo Streets, with retail fronting both streets. Wooldridge says design of the 7500 s.f. of retail will be finalized next year when the project is under construction.

Architects at SK&I have designed a LEED Silver project with green roof that will be notably taller than the low density architecture of Woodmont Triangle. "We'll be 5 stories taller than anything else around" says Wooldridge, although the 174-foot project will fall short of the Clark building at 200 feet. With demolition permits in hand, site work will commence immediately.

Bethesda, MD real estate development news


Anonymous said...

Hopefully it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb, like Silver Spring Towers in Fenton Village.

Anonymous said...

Bethesda will end up like Ballston if it dosen't watch out.

Anonymous said...

I think most people can see the value of Woodmont Triangle - I can't imagine the whole thing being bulldozed and turned into sterile NoVa or something like that. A few of these projects will be great. More than that would be awful.

Anonymous said...

Cannot wait for more development of Woodmont Triangle, what a tired and underutilized area. It's no wonder shops keep popping up and then dying.

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of turnover in Woodmont Triangle? I've never noticed much of any. Woodmont is great, though - home of most of the restaurants worth anything in Bethesda. Hopefully rents remain reasonable in the area and it doesn't turn into bland, chain-filled, anywhere U.S.A.

Anonymous said...

Bethesda??!! Who the heck cares. It is in Maryland and everyone up there is rich anyway. Who cares?

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that this building might look sterile and unwelcoming in a walking neighborhood. All in all, I think it will take away from this charming little area that could have gone another direction with the right investors.

MattF said...

How the building works on the street depends on what's happening at the street level. Hard to predict from the renderings, but there are well-known ways of engaging pedestrians (and well-known ways of repelling pedestrians). We shall see.

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