Eastham’s Exxon Servicenter (7100 Wisconsin Ave.) may be alive after all, though owners of the landmark Bethesda business would have to clear a few hurdles to reopen until the property is developed into a 145-unit apartment project.
Jeff Burton, deputy executive director of the Bethesda Urban Partnership, told a meeting of the Woodmont Triangle Action Group on Friday that the owners of Eastham’s are attempting to reopen the service center until developer Washington Property Company gets final approval for construction, expected to start in early 2013.
Eastham’s General Manager Steven Embrey and owner Ellen Zinkler could not be reached for comment, but a voice mail message at the store’s number says they hope to reopen in the first week of November.
That could be tricky for a number of reasons, Burton said.
First, they must wait until Exxon removes all of the underground gas tanks and other gas station equipment. If there’s still a window between the end of that process and the start of construction, Eastham’s could work an agreement with Washington Property Company to continue the auto service part of the operation, which has been in Bethesda since 1929.
But even in that situation, Eastham’s would have to find its own repair shop equipment. Burton said Exxon is taking the car lifts and other car repair necessities.
The apartment project is scheduled to go before the Montgomery County Planning Board on Nov. 1. The Washington Property Company is proposing a number of building height changes that would require a zoning amendment.