Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bethesda Row Project Gets Start Date

At last, Bethesda's downtown extension is on the calendar. After years of planning, including the past year of being thisclose to breaking ground, Montgomery County officials say that construction work on Lot 31 - the public-private StonebridgeCarras-PN Hoffman project extending Bethesda Row - will begin the week of April 9th.

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 be
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.

Bethesda, Maryland real estate development news


Anonymous said...

What a huge improvement this will be. Nice building!

Anonymous said...

What disaster, during construction and when it's done. Traffic congestion will be unbelievable, and 1200 parking spaces will bring in way more vehicles and pedestrians for downtown Bethesda's narrow sidewalks.

Anonymous said...

NIMBY alert! NIMBY alert!

Looks great.

Anonymous said...

I can only imagine what a nightmare on Elm Street the parking garage will become.

Anonymous said...

I don't want any NIMBYs in my back yard!

Anonymous said...

Hooray! More cars and I hope they add 24 hour parking meters. 10PM is much too early.
Cant wait!! Welcome to Bethesda. It's gonna be awesome!

Anonymous said...

Well downtown Bethesda can't really look like downtown DC because the District has a height limit which limits the ability to develop architecturally significant buildings and holds down density. Sadly this project contains too much parking. Perhaps the parking will go unused like at the DC USA center in Columbia Heights. Excessive parking encourages automobile trips to downtown Bethesda and worsens the deficits at WMATA and Ride On.

Anonymous said...

1200 below grade parking spaces at $30-40k per space. Makes you wonder what sacrifices had to be made design/materials/programming-wise to make this pencil out. MoCo badly needs to rethink parking minima near transit.

Anonymous said...

Just call and ask what will be the price per square foot for those condos! How do they expect to sell them in this challenging economic times???

Anonymous said...

A. they're not delivering for awhile yet.
B. it's Bethesda and there's little inventory at this price point.
C. we're in MoCo. We are very hardly feeling the "challenging economic times," if at all.

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