Planning Board Approves—But Questions—Development Proposal for Bethesda Bioscience Building

Leggett has designated a bid a vital mercantile growth devise

A digest of a blueprint devise settlement for a bioscience building during 8280 Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda.

A digest of a blueprint devise settlement for a bioscience building during 8280 Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda.

Via Donohoe/StonebridgeCarras

A devise to make a glass-clad bioscience building during Wisconsin Avenue’s northern proceed to  downtown Bethesda has already gotten support from County Executive Ike Leggett and held courtesy from a integrate of impending tenants.

But a redevelopment offer for a lot, where there’s now a Sunoco gas station, still hasn’t totally won over a Montgomery County Planning Board.

On Thursday, a house gave approval to a blueprint plan for a 145-foot-tall building that could supply adult to 185,000 block feet of bureau and lab space. However, before a vote, a integrate of house members pronounced they had some issues with a design.

In particular, they were worried by a due cantilever that would devise over a Wisconsin Avenue sidewalk, fluctuating about 8 feet into a open right of way. 

“How many buildings do we have to keep commendatory that are only like this?” house member Natali Fani-Gonzales said. “We keep removing a same thing on Wisconsin Avenue. It’s not OK.”

A blueprint display a due cantilever that extends opposite a right-of-way line. Via Donohoe/StonebridgeCarras.

Board Chairman Casey Anderson concluded that a building overhangs are popping adult rather frequently in growth skeleton for downtown Bethesda.

“I do share Natali’s regard that we don’t wish to see cantilevers as being, like, a default choice all over Bethesda,” he said.

Doug Firstenberg, a principal during StonebridgeCarras, that is building a skill with The Donohoe Cos., pronounced a due settlement would emanate a clarity of play that would be mislaid if a building’s top floors were set behind from Wisconsin Avenue.

“This does represent, in my possess personal opinion, something that does harken to a good gateway building for Bethesda,” he said.

Planning house member Gerald Cichy pronounced he didn’t mind a cantilever and described a settlement as “innovative.”

Firstenberg pronounced a site during 8280 Wisconsin Ave. is ideal for a life sciences marketplace since of a vicinity to a circuitously National Institutes of Health and to a appetite of downtown Bethesda. Much of a county’s bioscience attention is strong in suburban bureau parks along Interstate 270, though a trend has shifted toward locating lab and investigate space in some-more civic areas, Firstenberg said.

“People are looking for dual things: A good civic environment, that Bethesda has, and egghead horsepower. Well, NIH is a largest funder of bio grants in a world,” he said.

In late May, Leggett released an executive order dogmatic a growth a vital mercantile growth devise and directing all executive-branch agencies to give it “immediate attention” as it passes by a formulation and needing process.

The sequence estimates a building could accommodate 600 full-time workers and beget an additional $600,000 in annual skill taxes for a county.

Firstenberg pronounced a integrate of intensity tenants have already emerged, though he declined to name them. 

The developers would have to minister roughly $934,000 in park payments to a county to make a building as vast as they’ve proposed, according to a staff report. That income can be used to emanate new parks in Bethesda.

Proposed opening points to a building during 8280 Wisconsin Ave. would flue cars into a garage during Battery Lane and concede pedestrians to enter along Wisconsin Avenue. Via Donohoe/StonebridgeCarras.

The East Bethesda Citizens Association submitted a minute expressing regard about a offer to put a garage opening and exit and opening to a loading brook on Battery Lane. A county planner pronounced he and his colleagues have brought identical questions to a developers, nonetheless formulation staff does consider this due trade upsurge is preferable to situating a garage opening on a Wisconsin Avenue side.

Anderson and Fani-Gonzalez both remarkable a settlement discipline recently crafted to span with a Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan inspire use of a incomparable building bottom surfaced by a narrower tower. While there is coherence in a guidelines, a house members have beheld an rising settlement of developers arguing their projects should be a difference to a ubiquitous rule.

Planning Director Gwen Wright pronounced staff share this regard though that she does conclude a developers’ enterprise to emanate a building of artistic value—“something where a building itself is rather epitome and becomes a square of sculpture.”

Now that a house has given a curtsy to a project’s blueprint plan, developers contingency labour their offer and move it behind for final approval.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached during bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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