Planning Board Gives Thumbs Up to Hotel, Office Tower during Bethesda Police Station Site

Avocet Tower will move new turn of pattern value to downtown area, formulation executive says

Illustration of Avocet Tower looking opposite Wisconsin Avenue from Montgomery Avenue.

Illustration of Avocet Tower looking opposite Wisconsin Avenue from Montgomery Avenue.

VIA MONTGOMERY COUNTY PLANNING DEPARTMENT

County formulation officials on Thursday praised a devise to build a 250-foot “trophy” building designed during a peculiarity turn not seen before in downtown Bethesda.

But they don’t indispensably wish other developers to duplicate Avocet Tower, a devise during 7359 Wisconsin Ave., Montgomery County Planning Board members said.

“This is an internationally famous architectural firm. The artist is an internationally famous artist, and it’s holding things to a kind of turn of pattern value that we’ve been essay for,” Planning Director Gwen Wright said. “But we do consider we have to be clever since others competence try to say, ‘Well, we know, we can do this with a internal designer we hired down a street.’ ”

The house authorized a package of skeleton for a devise that will move a roughly 220-room AC Hotel by Marriott and 400,000 block feet of bureau space. The 1.5-acre devise site during a dilemma of Montgomery and Wisconsin avenues is now assigned by a county military station, Carpet Palace and an bureau building.

“Hopefully, you’ll see currently a growth that, in a opinion, is unequivocally a unusual place-maker in a new Bethesda downtown,” pronounced Jane Galbraith Mahaffie, a principal for a developer StonebridgeCarras.

The building will vitalise a travel turn by integrating a hotel and bureau portions, providing space for dining, operative and congregating. The structure will also make a matter from a distance, with a high shade gazebo and garden on a building’s rooftop that will counterpart a immature space during a base, according to a staff report.

The offer calls for a 3,650-square-foot piazza tucked underneath a building overhang, an area that would underline landscaped terraces and a rapids with pools and bridges, according to a formulation staff report. 

Proposed open piazza underneath building overhang. Via Montgomery County Planning Department.

Planning house member Natali Fani-Gonzalez pronounced she’d like to see a incomparable piazza that could assistance move some-more plant life to downtown Bethesda.

“When we demeanour during Bethesda … it’s so gray. We need some-more green,” she said.

Planning house Chairman Casey Anderson pronounced he generally doesn’t validate a overhangs he’s seen in many 90s-era buildings in Bethesda and Silver Spring and thinks some developers select this proceed to carve out open space while maximizing a stretch of a building building. Avocet Tower is an difference to a rule, he said.

“I would not wish to advise that this is a devise that should be speedy or authorised as a matter of course,” he said. “In this case, we don’t consider they’re cheaping out. we consider they’re trying, really, to make an artistic effort, and we consider they’re successful. … we positively don’t consider we wish to advise that this is a model.”

While formulation staff pronounced no one from a village had sent in created comments about a project, Mary Flynn, owner of a Coalition of Bethesda Area Residents, lifted a few questions during Thursday’s meeting.

She pronounced village members are endangered that a house was voting on a blueprint plan, rough devise and site devise simultaneously, rather than spacing out a approvals. The developer’s preference to send all 3 papers by a growth examination routine during once done it some-more formidable for residents to digest a offer and advise changes, Flynn said.

“That unequivocally is a core of a concern,” she said. “We’re not objecting to this project.”

Plan for one opening line and dual exit lanes during a garage on Waverly Street (click to expand). Via Montgomery County Planning Department

Board members, formulation staff, Flynn and member of StonebridgeCarras did plead intensity problems with a project’s due garage opening on Waverly Street. StonebridgeCarras wants to implement an opening line and dual exit lanes during a garage; formulation staff disagree this pattern would force pedestrians to travel a prolonged stretch opposite a trail of cars and suggested expelling one of a outbound lanes.

However, Bob Dalrymple, an profession for StonebridgeCarras, pronounced slicing an exit line would means backlogs in a garage.

“To have one approach out would be harmful for this project,” he said.

The developer member and formulation officials concluded to slight a breadth of a due lanes and weigh a sight-lines for pedestrians and cars during a garage entry.

Flynn also asked about a reserve of a designs for a layby line where cars on Montgomery Avenue could lift over and dump off hotel guests. The illustrations enclosed in a staff news uncover a bike line using between a pull-over area and a sidewalk, and she pronounced this blueprint could emanate conflicts between cyclists and visitors. 

A county planner pronounced a travel devise for Montgomery Avenue is still underneath development, and a blueprint shown in a staff news competence not be a final configuration.

Anderson urged staff to demeanour during ways of running hotel visitors opposite to a path so they don’t dawdle in a bike lane.

“I consider we need to physically arrange of make it transparent that here is where you’re ostensible to cranky into a office/hotel complex,” he said.

Design for a layby line on Montgomery Avenue, shown during a tip (click to expand). Via Montgomery County Planning Department

The house unanimously voted to approve a sketch, rough and site plans, nonetheless house members Norman Dreyfuss and Gerald Cichy were absent.

 

The Avocet Tower devise would need StonebridgeCarras to yield a roughly $2.15 million park impact remuneration to a county in sell for about 215,000 block feet of additional firmness over what a site’s zoning allows, according to staff.

The developer is looking to mangle belligerent on Avocet Tower in early 2019 and finish construction by 2021.

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

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