The Site Plan for the 145-unit apartment project set for 7100 Wisconsin Ave. is in and includes renderings of what that portion of downtown Bethesda might look like without the Eastham’s auto repair shop and gas station that has been there for 83 years.
Eastham’s got a reprieve last December, after it was announced the auto repair portion of the shop would remain until developer Washington Property Company was ready to break ground. The shop was temporarily closed as crews closed down and cleaned out the Exxon Gas Station portion of the shop.
The Site Plan Application was filed in April and includes the 145 units (15 percent of which will be moderately priced dwelling units) underground parking and 6,300 square feet in non-residential/commercial retail space.
The side of the building facing Wisconsin Avenue will be 120 feet tall. The building will step down toward Woodmont Avenue as to not loom over the Crescent Plaza condos to the west.
Renderings via Montgomery County Planning Department
Jenny Hurley, marketing manager with the franchisee company of Panera Bread restaurants in Maryland, said Panera has been exploring a downtown Bethesda location for years.
“We feel like this provides ample parking, there is a lot over there,” Hurley said. “It will definitely be an attribute to the people who are working out there.”
The location, at 7201 Wisconsin Ave., is across the street from Parking Lot 24, a metered lot along Willow Lane.
Bethesda Magazine first reported that Panera would be taking over the space. The Minnesota-based bd’s Mongolian Grill closed last August. Panera had 1,652 locations as of December 2012 and there are locations in Friendship Heights, Upper NW D.C. and Rockville, but none with a Bethesda address.
Photo via Google Maps
A Verizon spokesperson said the utility work and lane closures that clogged up downtown Bethesda for the last week are over.
Verizon Maryland spokesperson Sandra Arnette said crews had to replace 800 feet of water-damaged cable on Wisconsin Avenue between East-West Highway and Montgomery Avenue. That caused the closure of two lanes of northbound Wisconsin in one of Bethesda’s busiest intersections.
Police received numerous calls about back-ups on northbound Wisconsin Avenue, which during last night’s evening rush hour stretched south to Bradley Lane.
Arnette said a crew finished the cable replacement on Monday and the last lane closure re-opened on Monday night.
One reader wondered why the work took so long.
“It is absolutely grid-locked Bethesda all weekend and was still going on this morning. Why can’t they fix a cable in one day, like they do in the rest of the world? They have cost Bethesda drivers thousands of wasted hours and lots of lost revenues for business,” the reader wrote.
Photos via TrafficLand.com
The Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club opened in March, but it has delayed an official re-opening celebration until it could celebrate another milestone.
On May 17, the Club will couple a ribbon-cutting ceremony with a celebration of the historic Bethesda Theatre’s 75th anniversary. Jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis will take the stage for a special performance.
The theater (7719 Wisconsin Ave.) was built in 1938 in the streamline moderne style and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s Wisconsin Avenue marquee went unchanged until the Club took over operations and renovated the 500-seat theater for $8 million.
The theater went to auction in 2010 with a $4 million debt attached. A $12 million contribution from developer Bozzuto Group helped re-open it in 2007 when Bozzuto built The Whitney apartment complex above it.
Club owner Rick Brown’s mother graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School on the theater’s stage in 1947. He remembered going to movies there when it was still a movie theater in the 1950′s.
On May 17 at 6 p.m., local dignitaries and others will make remarks and cut a ribbon. A cocktail reception will follow from 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. The main event, with Marsalis, starts with dinner at 7:15 p.m. and the show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $175 and include dinner, drinks, tax, handling and gratuity.
For more info, visit the Club website.
Donna Evers, who recently opened a Bethesda-Chevy Chase office of one of Washington’s largest boutique real estate agencies, says outside of downtown D.C., there is no hotter spot for real estate in the area right now.
“Montgomery County is the sector here that shows the biggest growth. It was lagging behind, but it’s jumping ahead now,” Evers said. “Bethesda drives that. What’s on the books in terms of development, there’s going to be big demand for it.”
There are 19 apartment or condominium projects planned, in the Planning Department pipeline or under construction in a three-square mile section of downtown Bethesda. The projects are projected to bring roughly 3,700 units. There’s also the steady takedown and rebuild market for single family homes in Bethesda neighborhoods off the Central Business District.
Evers said real estate inventory has been historically low despite recent increases in listings and sales region-wide. In close-in Metro marketplaces throughout the area, dollar volume of sales was up 21 percent in March compared to March of last year and 46 percent compared to February of this year, according to real estate information service MRIS.
“We need more product in the marketplace and we’re finally getting it,” Evers said. “Montgomery is coming forward now. I think it takes awhile for people to to gain a lot of confidence in the marketplace because moving a whole family is a bigger deal than individuals moving, like you’ll see more often in the District.”
The cost of the incoming condos and apartments, however, is unlikely to offer much in the way of affordability. Evers said the land in Bethesda is too valuable.
“The ground is pretty expensive, so you’ve got to start with the ground and go up from there,” Evers said. “But I think builders have to think who they are building for. If they think they’re going to have a viable marketplace with people in their 20s, 30s, who are looking for their first apartment, something between 500 square feet and 1,200 square feet and they can sell it at a reasonable price, they’ll do it.”
UPDATE 12:10 p.m. Metro today released details on its plan to pilot a “Metro Station Of The Future” project at the Bethesda Metro Station.
Business and political representatives from the community have been lobbying for more lighting and a better looking Metro station for years. In March, WMATA officials let the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce’s Metro Improvement Task Force know the Bethesda station had been selected for the pilot.
The project would provide a number of improvements including high-output light fixtures, a stainless steel and light gray interior to replace “Metro brown”, a thinner kiosk with digital panels for service information and new fare gates with next-generation technology for faster entry and exit.
Washington Examiner reporter Liz Essley tweeted that a Metro official said the station would be done by the end of FY 2015.
The Bethesda Metro station is set to undergo an extensive replacement process to its three escalators, the second-longest in the system and the second-longest in the Western Hemisphere (behind the escalators at Wheaton.)
“Being chosen for Metro’s model station pilot program is welcome news for the Bethesda community,” Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) said in a statement. “As the economic engine of Montgomery County, Bethesda is a gateway station for many transit riders. I am so grateful to General Manager Sarles and the WMATA Board for recognizing the value of the Bethesda Station to the Metro network and the economic vitality of our county. We all look forward to seeing the new and improved Metro station.”
Video via Metro
A two-month renovation of the Morton’s The Steakhouse in the Hyatt Bethesda hotel (7400 Wisconsin Ave.) took the high-end restaurant and bar from country club feel to modern, said general manager Ron McNeill.
The brick walls and heavy wood front door are gone, replaced with glass and a darker, sleeker lounge-like feel the restaurant showed off during an unveiling event on Tuesday.
Landry’s, the Houston-based restaurant company that bought the iconic steakhouse brand in 2011 for $200 million, is remodeling all of the approximately 65 U.S. locations, starting with its Houston Morton’s restaurants and its locations in Bethesda, Baltimore and D.C.
The Bethesda Morton’s opens to the hotel lobby, but McNeill said they still were able to achieve a much more open feel to the brand new bar area, which connects to the main dining room and the private party area.
Crews worked overnight after the restaurant closed shop for the day. The Northern Virginia locations in Arlington and Reston are next on the renovation schedule.
A major rebranding effort of Caribou Coffee stores outside the company’s home state of Minnesota will mean a big change for the Bethesda location, which over the years has become a favorite for downtown residents and commuters coming to and from the Metro station.
Store manager Lauren Callahan said the Bethesda store (7629 Old Georgetown Rd.) is one of 88 stores nationwide that will become a Peet’s Coffee & Tea, probably sometime in the next 12 to 18 months.
The company is closing 80 underperforming stores. The crew at Caribou will remain, Callahan said. They just won’t be known as Caribou anymore.
“We’ll be here until they close us down,” Callahan said.
One of the D.C. area’s biggest boutique real estate agencies celebrated the opening of its downtown Bethesda office on Thursday.
Donna Evers, who founded Evers & Co. in 1985, said Bethesda was a natural location for her company’s newest office (7032 Wisconsin Ave.) because of its active real estate market.
“It’s probably the most successful suburb, if you want to call it that, suburb-city in the country and deserves to be,” Evers said.
The agency has more than 100 sales associates and luxury home and downtown condominium properties in Bethesda and Chevy Chase.
The sushi and robata restaurant taking over the former Divino Lounge space in downtown Bethesda is nearing its grand opening, with a recent Craigslist ad for part-time servers.
In February, Bethesda Magazine reported Yoshihisa Ota, previously the owner of Kushi in Mt. Vernon Square, took over the storefront at 7345 Wisconsin Avenue to start Yuzu. He’s hoping for an April opening.
Workers have been busily prepping the inside of the restaurant in the past week. It will include a small sushi counter and grilled seafood and vegetable offerings on skewers called robata. Divino, the Argentine steakhouse, closed in December.
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.
The new restaurant will include new, yet-to-be announced menu items, a new entry area, bar, Boardroom and wine room.
The restaurant will show off its fresh look during a private preview event on Tuesday before opening to the public. The steakhouse began renovations on its Baltimore property last year, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.
UPDATE 4:50 a.m. A fire in the electrical room of the Hyatt Regency Bethesda early this morning left one worker injured and more than 400 guests and forced to move to Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, according to MCFRS spokesman Capt. Scott Graham.
An explosion in the electrical room after midnight in the garage of the hotel (7400 Wisconsin Ave.) sent the worker to the burn center of Suburban Hospital according to Graham.
The fire was held in check by the sprinkler system, but the guests at the hotel were moved in Ride On buses to the gym at nearby B-CC High School around 2:15 a.m., where they are being assisted by the Red Cross.
Wisconsin Avenue in both directions was closed during MCFRS’ response to the fire.
Students at B-CC and all Montgomery County Public Schools are on spring break this week. Some hotel guests transferred to other area hotels.
At 4:45 a.m., fire fighters allowed guests back on to Ride On buses to retrieve medicine or other belongings from the hotel.
Capt. Scott Graham reported fire fighters had cleared the hotel and Wisconsin Avenue will reopen by 6 a.m.
The 14th Annual Bethesda Literary Festival will include about 20 author discussions, readings, open houses and writing award presentations over three days in April at nine locations throughout the downtown area.
The event, operated by the Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP), includes authors on a range of subjects who will discuss their books from Friday, April 19-Sunday, April 21 at locations including the Bethesda Library (7400 Arlington Rd.), Barnes & Noble (4801 Bethesda Ave.) and The Writer’s Center (4508 Walsh St.).
The Washington Post’s David Maraniss will discuss his biography of Barack Obama, which was published last year, starting at noon on April 20 at the Residence Inn Bethesda (7335 Wisconsin Ave.).
BUP and Bethesda Magazine will present winners of their essay and short story contest with awards and particpants will read their works at 7 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda (7400 Wisconsin Ave.) on April 19.
The full schedule is after the jump. For more info, visit the event page.
Developers of a proposed 15-story, 120-unit apartment building on Old Georgetown Road near the Bethesda Metro station promised a “landmark” building design and public open space on Thursday at the Montgomery County Planning Board.
The Planning Board approved McClean, Va.-based developer Kettler’s Project Plan for the site, home of the existing United Bank at 7535 Old Georgetown Rd. and across Commerce Lane from the La Madeleine restaurant.
Architects presented plans for a pocket park on the east side of the building that will include an architectural sculpture they say will make it a focal point for pedestrians leaving the Metro station.
Based on Planning Staff recommendations, the Board approved a condition that Kettler must widen the sidewalk along Commerce Lane by about five feet to make it a total of 12-feet wide. Kettler must also participate in a safety audit with government agencies to design streetscaping that would minimize mid-block pedestrian crossings of Old Georgetown Road.
The public plaza’s final design will be subject to more review from the Planning Department as the process continues.
The design for a private rooftop lounge and grilling area must get a Rooftop Waiver from the Board as it will take up more than 25 percent of the roof area.
The plan includes 111 resident-only underground parking spots, 44 bike parking spaces and 5,000 square feet of first-floor retail/commercial space. Project designers said that retail space could not be increased because of the narrow space available for the building, plaza and parking structure.
Rendering via Montgomery County Planning Department