Construction crews working on the 4500 East West office building in downtown Bethesda this weekend tore down the McDonald’s that used to stand on the property.
Many reacted with the type of loving memories typically reserved for things other than the most common fast food hamburger restaurant in the world.
“This building was filled with memories,” wrote Chevy Chase Patch blogger Ellouise Schoettler.
“Another Bethesda memory comes to end. What is left of our sleepy little town that once was,” wrote a commenter.
“Sad,” tweeted blogger Robert Dyer.
Montgomery County officials hope the 4500 East West building, 220,000 square feet of the first new Class A office space in Bethesda since the recession, will help stop job losses in the construction sector and attract a shiny new anchor tenant.
It is also in line with the county’s “smart-growth” policy. The standalone fast food joint two blocks from the Bethesda Metro station was not.
Some of the 13,000 square feet of ground-floor retail in the new building will be occupied by a new McDonald’s, so the popular Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School hangout (and Bethesda landmark, apparently) will be back when construction is complete.
First reported by blogger Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row, Creative Parties Ltd. owner and President Tracy Bloom Schwartz confirmed the crew anticipates making the short move to the first floor of the Landow Building (4822 St Elmo Ave.) a week from today.
Bloom Schwartz has been in the standalone house at 8011 Woodmont Ave. for 16 years. The company started on Auburn Avenue for 10 years before that.
“We are excited about it. We’ve enjoyed being in Bethesda because it still, unlike so many other areas, has not lost some of the value of shopping local,” Bloom Schwartz said. “So we feel very at home in a very supportive community and our clients know us for being here.”
Creative plans weddings, corporate events, bar and bat mitzvahs and provides invitations and other products for social events.
Bloom Schwartz said the new location will have less space, but not by much. The house became a landmark of sorts on Woodmont Avenue thanks to its colorful painting job, windows and chimney among the high-rise developments and parking garages in Woodmont Triangle.
Instead of signing another five-year lease, Bloom Schwartz decided to move to a more steady location.
The 8011 Woodmont Ave. property was part of a failed plan by developer JBG Cos. and Montgomery County to put a new 2nd District Police Station on the bottom of a high-rise apartment.
JBG is going ahead with a revised plan to develop the property just south of it into an apartment and it’s possible the Creative Parties site could be revisited by another developer.
Photo via Creative Parties Ltd.
As Montgomery County has become a majority-minority county, Census numbers released last week show Bethesda hasn’t contributed much to the area’s shifting demographics.
The U.S. Census Bureau released its American Community Survey five-year estimates from 2007 to 2011 on Thursday, which showed the population of white people in Bethesda was actually higher than estimated in the 2010 Census, though the statistics were collected differently.
According to the Survey, the total population was 58,661 compared to 60,858 in the 2010 Census. Nearly 80 percent of that population was white, 9 percent asian, 6.5 percent Latino and 2.9 percent black, according to the Survey. The 2010 Census showed 77.8 percent of Bethesda’s population was white.
In Montgomery County as a whole, whites accounted for 50 percent of the population compared to nearly 60 percent in the 2000 Census. Unemployment in the county was at 4.2 percent. In Bethesda, the Survey estimated unemployment at 4 percent.
Other trends in the study included a majority of the population enrolled in school were in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten or elementary school (classified as grades 1-8), coinciding with an expected surge in high school students and causing MCPS officials to plan accordingly. More than 53 percent of enrolled students have yet to enter high school.
The study also shows that of 30,703 Bethesda workers age 16 and older, 58 percent drive alone, 16.6 percent use public transportation, 6.6 percent carpool and 5.7 percent walk to work.
North Bethesda’s population of 40,970 did not yet show any signs of increasing as the significant development in White Flint ramps up. The 2010 Census estimated North Bethesda’s population at 43,828.
Flickr photo by Steve Unlikely!
The proposed 118,000-square-foot, 70-foot tall project from D.C.-based developer SJG Properties is too tall and will bring too many cars to the neighborhood of townhomes wedged between Arlington Road and Woodmont Avenue near the Bethesda Metro station, according to correspondence to be reviewed at a Planning Board hearing on Dec. 20.
A previous proposal for the property (4831 West Lane) from a different developer had 48 apartments in a smaller building residents say fit better on the narrow street behind the high-rise Chase and Edgemoor apartment buildings on Woodmont Avenue.
“We supported the original proposed Halliday development plan on this site (G-843) because it planned for 48 units and had a number of features friendly to our neighborhood — such as shorter height on Montgomery Lane, increasing height toward the back, open useable space, a facade on Montgomery Lane that was compatible with the town homes across the street, lower density and lower number of apartment units. All these features are gone with the new application,” wrote nearby resident MaryAnn Dubner. “All this violates the planning concept of decreasing height or “tenting” starting at Woodmont Ave. and ending at Arlington Rd.
The County Council last week approved a five-story, four-unit development in the neighborhood at 4825 Montgomery Lane. Most residents were in support of that project, though a few questioned the adequacy of the eight parking spots part of the plan.
Reaction against this project has been much stronger. It would include a garage with 117 parking spaces, which worries residents.
Montgomery Lane is one way east of West Lane and residents say delivery trucks and cars often block the entire street. There is no parking allowed on West Lane, but illegal parkers are known to block one lane of traffic there.
“Our area of Bethesda is dense and will likely get more so. We recognize that,” wrote Peter Locker, President of the Villages of Bethesda Homeowners Association. “But we depend on your sound wisdom to insure that development is compatible with our area. …Put simply, it is the wrong building for this site and should be rejected.”
The Planning Board received letters in opposition of the project from residents and resident associations in the Edgemoor, the Town Homes, The Chase and the Villages of Bethesda.
The Planning Board’s review of the project is set for the afternoon portion of its Dec. 20 session.
Images via Montgomery County Planning Department
A few dozen onlookers watched Sunday evening as Rabbi Sender Geisinsky from the Chabad of Bethesda lit two candles on an 18-foot wide, 10-foot tall menorah made of balloons on Bethesda Lane.
On the second night of the Jewish holiday of Chanukah, The Chabad of Bethesda, Bethesda Row and balloon maker Katie Balloons of realty TV fame partnered for the event.
It was the fifth annual menorah lighting on Bethesda Row. In the past, the menorahs have been made of legos, ice and jelly beans.
Balloons, who changed her name to match her profession, put on a children’s balloon making show afterward.
B-CC Career Partnership Day — Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School students matched up with area businesses, government agencies and County Council staffers to see the ins and outs of a workday. [Bethesda Magazine]
Beware of Fog — The National Weather Service issues a dense fog advisory until 9 a.m. today, urging drivers to use low-beam headlights. [Washington Post]
Film Festival Deadline Today — Today is the deadline to submit entries for Bethesda Urban Partnership’s first-ever documentary film festival. BUP is looking for five to 20-minute documentaries to show at Imagination Stage at an event in March. [Bethesda Urban Partnership]
Flickr photo by IamJomo