Category Archives: Real Estate

Washington Post Covers Element 28

I noticed that the Washington Post recently covered the new Bethesda apt building “Element 28″ and touched on the broader growth of high-rises in a piece titled: “High-end, transit-oriented apartments rise in Bethesda.” 

It got me thinking about the future a little bit….and I wanted to share this thought with you:

I hope that the spike in apartment buildings and new residents leads to a renewal of community in Bethesda. The risk is that things go the other way and we become more siloed but I believe that with some effort, imagination and constructive engagement with local gov., we can build a Bethesda that captures the best of years past with new energy and dynamism for the future.

Grosvenor Metro Development (North Bethesda)

Hi friends,

I wanted to take a minute and forward this notice to you:

Grosvenor Metro Development
Planning Board to Hear Testimony on June 29
Make Your Voice Heard, In Person or In Writing

On June 29, the county Planning Board will hear public testimony on staff’s draft plan for the remaining undeveloped land at the Grosvenor-Strathmore station. A copy of the draft plan is at the Parkside management office, which you are welcome to consult in the office. To consult an online copy, go to http://montgomeryplanning.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Public-Hearing-Draftlowres.pdf.

The agenda for the 29th will be posted two weeks beforehand (go to http://montgomeryplanningboard.org/agendas/). Information about signing up to testify or submitting written testimony will be at that same site.

The most critical issue to be decided is DENSITY, which will affect both the number of dwelling units to be built and the building heights.

NUMBER OF DWELLING UNITS: Staff is recommending a FAR (floor area ratio) of 2.5, or approximately 1,145 dwelling units. The developer is pushing for a FAR of 3.5 (1,650 dwelling units) or a FAR of 3.0 (1,400 dwelling units).

BUILDING HEIGHTS: With a FAR of 2.5, the site would be filled with residential buildings except for one small green community gathering place up by the Metro entrance (to be called a “civic green”). The residential buildings would be stepped up from 4 stories facing Strathmore Park across Tuckerman to higher buildings (maximum 16 stories) midway up the slope and culminating in two “signature” buildings at the top of the slope, by the Metro station. These two buildings would be 260 feet high, or approximately 26 stories each. If a FAR of 3.5 or 3.0 were approved, the two high rises would be higher still, and the other buildings on the site could also be higher than under the staff proposal.
For a fuller picture, please review the draft plan itself. And then write to the Planning Board expressing your opinion, or sign up to testify on June 29.

Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan Dissenter Speaks

Marc Elrich, the one Montgomery County Council member to vote against the Bethesda Downtown Sector plan explains his vote here.

Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan Cont.

Reactions to the Sector Plan are coming in. Here is one take from our friends at Bethesda Magazine. Of particular interest was a point on additional development:

 

The plan opens the door to about 4.2 million square feet of additional development.

That might sound like a lot, but the county planning director and the chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board assert that the proposed Bethesda plan is modest in scale.

To put the number in context, county staff reports show that 23.6 million square feet of development existed in Bethesda as of September 2014. Ongoing and approved projects add up to another 4.6 million square feet. Included in that number is a roughly 940,000-square-foot redevelopment plan for the site of the Apex building at 7272 Wisconsin Ave.

What’s not included? Marriott International’s proposal to construct roughly 400,000 square feet near Woodmont Triangle for the company’s headquarters and a flagship hotel. That project will consume some of the 4.2 million square feet of new building space allowed by the Bethesda plan.

It will be interesting to get a variety of takes on this and other aspects of the plan. Feel free to email me at raj@rajabout.com

MPDU’s and the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan Cont.

As I was digging into the plan I saw that there was an increased commitment to MPDU’s. As an aside, if anyone would like to discuss this program with me, feel free to give me a call at (240)486-3921 or send an email to raj@rajabout.com:

“Add more units to the marketplace by [providing] requiring a minimum 15 percent MPDUs for optional method residential development within Downtown Bethesda.  Provide 15 percent MPDUs on-site as a first priority.  [Preserve existing market-rate affordable housing by identifying some sites as Priority Sending Sites for density averaging. Affordable Housing Sending Sites that choose to transfer their density must enter into a rental agreement to retain 30 percent of their existing affordable housing units, defined as 65 percent of area median income (AMI) or below, for 20 years.]  Provide an incentive to encourage 25% or more MPDUs (by allowing an increase in FAR without additional payments otherwise required for increases in FAR).

Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan Cont.

As promised yesterday, I am digging into the plan for nuggets and things to be happy/ worry about. This one struck me as a good recommendation:

“Page 41: Modify language under A. Bethesda Circulator Expansion as follows: A more robust Circulator Bus route should be considered to serve an expanded Downtown Bethesda. That route should include service to the Battery Lane and Pearl Districts,[. Potential new stops should include the following locations (see Figure 2.10: Proposed Circulator Route Revisions):] new Bethesda South Metrorail station/Purple Line station on Elm Street, the Pearl District, and Medical Center Metrorail station.”

I like the idea of the Circulator connecting residents to both Bethesda and Medical Center metro stops. Hopefully with easier, all weather, access to metro, we will see more downtown residents able to leave the car at home and use metro a bit more.

More nuggets etc. to follow!

DSCF4982

New Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan Approved

Friends,

I have not had a chance to go through the full document, so am simply going to provide the Council summary at this point.

More information to follow!

The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is proud to announce that the Montgomery County Council approved its Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan on Thursday, May 25, 2017.  The Council voted 8 to 1 in favor of adopting the plan with only Councilmember Mark Elrich opposing the action.

Consult the Council’s resolution for more details about their approval of the plan.

The new Sector Plan is an update to the approved and adopted 1994 Bethesda Central Business District Sector Plan and the 2006 Woodmont Triangle Amendment.

 

The plan builds on the success of Downtown Bethesda by offering ways to strengthen its centers of activity – Bethesda Row, Wisconsin Avenue corridor, Woodmont Triangle and other established and emerging districts – over the next 20 years. The plan focuses on creating a downtown that is economically sustainable, environmentally sustainable and socially sustainable.

The Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan offers exciting new ways to achieve its goals. An innovative tool that will be employed is a new way of allocating density. The plan assigns heights, but density will be allocated through the Bethesda Overlay Zone and plans will be judged in terms of their contributions to open space, affordable housing and design excellence.

In addition, the plan recommends a high performance area that incentivizes energy-efficient buildings, increased tree canopy and innovative stormwater management in order to create a truly sustainable downtown.

Other recommendations will help create numerous new parks, preserve important community and historic resources, such as the Bethesda Farm Women’s Cooperative Market, and provide more affordable housing in the downtown. Projects will be required to provide a minimum 15 percent of moderately priced dwelling units (MPDUs), not 12.5 percent as is typically required.

New design guidelines for the plan area and specific details about the Bethesda Overlay Zone are now being developed.

Development in Old Bethesda Moving Quickly: National Daycare Next?

Just heard from some friends that there is a chance that a national daycare may well be opening a branch in “Old” Bethesda —- specifically at the location across from Battery Park. Will try to contact the agents for the building to find out more!

The Park:

DSC00017

The Building:DSC00022

Trader Joes Moving to Old Bethesda?

Heard on the grapevine that Trader Joes are considering a move to “Old” Bethesda – specifically looking at the space being developed across from Triangle Towers and the Gallery. If so, it would be a really smart move for them to make — all of the new buildings and the surrounding area would provide a strong customer base. It is also true that the current location is putting off some customers due to the challenges of accessing the store/ parking lot.

Future TJ’s Site in the Snow?:

img_1928

Condo Update: Stonehall

This new Condo building is fast springing to life on the corner of Battery Lane and Woodmont Avenue, across from the new(ish) Harris Teeter.

When it is complete, the 9 story building will house 46 total residential units. The prices seem to have adjusted a tad and now range from the $600s to about $2.3 million. The really interesting aspect of this development for me is that on the Western side of the building, many residents will have some wonderful views of the NIH campus (or so it seems at this time).

The plan for the ground level is retail space and I suspect an interesting restaurant will fill that spot quite quickly.

Harris Teeter will of course be happy to have more potential customers literally across the street.

I have a few more details on this building to share with those who are interested. And, as ever, if I can assist you with this or any other real estate matter drop me an email at raj@rajabout.com or call (240)486-3921