More luxury rentals slated for downtown Bethesda -- Gazette.Net







Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
E-mail this article
Leave a Comment
Print this Article

This story was corrected on July 11, 2013. An explanation follows the story.

The former Exxon gas station at 7340 Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Bethesda will be home to a luxury apartment building with retail on the first floor, if the developer Bainbridge get its way.

Bainbridge Cos. of Florida, which has an office in Bethesda, bought the defunct gas station, which has been shuttered since 2009, from the Exxon Mobil Foundation in May. This will be Bainbridge’s second luxury, mixed-use building in Bethesda — the first is a 17-story high-rise, now under construction, on St. Elmo Avenue.

“A gas station is like a missing tooth” in an urban neighborhood, said Trini M. Rodriguez of Parker/Rodriguez of Alexandria, Va., a landscape architecture firm, at a public meeting about the project Tuesday night at the Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center in Bethesda.

The new building, on the west side of Wisconsin Avenue between Montgomery and Hampden lanes, will fill in that gap, she said, and do it in style — with wide plazas, creative seating and a specially designed cantilevered canopy designed by artists.

The first floor, which will have about 10,000 square feet of retail, will wrap around the corner of Montgomery Lane — across the street from the Metro station elevator — up Wisconsin Avenue and then wrap around Hampden Lane, said C. Robert Dalrymple, an attorney with Linowes and Blocher of Bethesda, which is representing Bainbrdge.

The building itself probably will have 225 rental units, Dalrymple said, a combination of efficiencies and one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

The preferred use of the property, according to county planners, is for an office building, but Dalrymple said that market was just too soft to keep adding to it. He said he anticipated the shift to apartments being an issue with the Montgomery County Planning Board.

“We’re all hoping the office market will come back in a flurry real soon,” Dalrymple said. “But we’re not seeing it yet.”

The property is zoned for 143 feet in height, in accordance with the 1994 Bethesda Central Business District Master Plan, but Dalrymple said he hoped it might be approved for 200 feet. More density makes sense, he said, because of the building’s proximity to the Metro.

The building will be L-shaped, with 14 stories facing Montgomery Lane and six stories facing Hampden Lane. The shorter side of the building will help it blend in with the residential feel of Hampden, Dalrymple said.

The building will boast a swimming pool, a penthouse and a green roof and all the corner apartments will have balconies.

The parking garage and a loading dock will be on Montgomery Lane, and there will be no vehicular access to the building from either Wisconsin Avenue or from Hampden Lane. There will probably be fewer than the required number of parking spots, Dalrymple said, and if so, Bainbridge will pay a fee to compensate.

The developer intends to file a plan project application in the next couple of weeks, Dalrymple said, and expects to have the project plan and preliminary plan approved by the end of this year. If all goes well, he said, they will be breaking ground by the end of 2014.

In downtown Bethesda, about 2,000 new apartments and condos are currently in the works.

Explanation: The original version misstated how long the gas station has been closed and misspelled the last name of C. Robert Dalrymple.