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More On Bethesda Apex Building Proposal

by Aaron Kraut — April 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm 317 0

A nearby property owner says the Apex Building (7272 Wisconsin Avenue) could serve as the site of a better Purple Line Station than what is planned

The owner of the building that sits on top of where a future Bethesda Purple Line Station would connect with the Metro’s Red Line is not a part of a recent proposal to raze the building and accomodate an underground Capital Crescent Trail.

On Friday, owners of a nearby building submitted a Minor Master Plan Amendment to the Planning Department that suggests the four-story Apex Building (7272 Wisconsin Ave.) could be torn down to allow the county and Maryland Transportation Administration to build a Purple Line station at a cheaper cost and with an underground CCT crossing of Wisconsin Avenue.

In exchange, that property and others extending east along Montgomery Avenue would be granted rights for more intense development. A property owner in a proposal is not required to be a part of a Minor Master Plan Amendment application.

The application, which was part of a County Council debate on Tuesday, was submitted by Meadow Lo Corporation, which owns a building east of Wisconsin Avenue within the study area in its application.

Rob Eisinger, of the Promark real estate management company for Meadow Lo, said the properties east of Wisconsin were included in the Minor Master Plan because they would be directly impacted by the Purple Line, especially the hiker/biker trail that would run along the light rail and might be elevated next to certain properties.

Eisinger said the latest MTA designs also call for an electrical sub station in the area and the demolition of some of the houses along Montgomery Avenue.

“The intent of a Minor Master Plan per the county is to avoid spot zoning,” Eisinger said. “If it were proposed for just the Apex Building, it would not meet the goals of the minor master plan.”

Eisinger said the owner of the Apex Building, where the Plan promises a Purple Line Station and project that effectively sold it to the Planning Department, was aware that the Minor Master Plan Amendment might be proposed but did not participate in it. Eisinger said the owner has neither endorsed nor opposed the application.

Potomac-based Vanguard Realty Group is listed as the mailing contact for 7272 Wisconsin Building Corp., the listed owner of the building according to state tax records. A representative from Vanguard had not responded to a request for comment by early Wednesday afternoon.

The Minor Master Plan process was designed by former Planning chief Rollin Stanley as a way to let anybody — community members, business owners and neighboring property owners — submit planning ideas that shouldn’t have to wait for larger Sector Plan re-writes, which occur about every 20 years.

Work on the 1992 Bethesda CBD Sector Plan is not expected to get started until 2015. It can take two years for a Plan to make its way through Planning Staff, the Planning Board and the County Council before getting final approval.

Eisinger also suggested the proposal would be a good idea because it could help the 2nd District Police station rebuild, which is stalled by a failed county partnership with a private developer that wanted to build the station in a new apartment complex on Cordell Avenue.

The county is collecting new proposals from developers who might be interested in rebuilding the station or in a land swap that would put the station somewhere in the Bethesda CBD.

“If it is re-zoned now, then it will be built with the preferable CR-zone that will ultimately replace the CBD zone when the Sector Plan is revisited,” Eisinger said.

The County Council must give the Planning Department permission to move the Apex Building Minor Master Plan on its work schedule.

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