A Bethesda-based developer wants to build 153 townhouses near the historic Grosvenor Mansion, where five years ago residents successfully fought off attempts by a private school to locate in one of the last remaining wooded areas along the I-270/Old Georgetown Road corridor.
Bethesda’s EYA and D.C.-based real estate investment firm Streetscape Partners submitted a site plan application in January and have been negotiating with the two nonprofits that are now on the 35-acre property — the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation and the Society of American Foresters.
The site plan application (see below) says the townhouse development will preserve roughly 12 acres of what has been identified as high-quality downcounty forest as Legacy Open Space.
In 2008, a group wishing to build an international private school called the Nations Academy called off its plans after vehement opposition from surrounding neighborhood groups. The school would have also had to delay its opening by a year to accomodate the Montgomery County Council’s decision to designate the 1928 Grosvenor Mansion as a historic resource, which the Council did in 2009.
Residents of the Wildwood Manor Citizens Association argued the planned 1,600 student campus with dorms for international students would have created too much traffic and disturbed the forest. The area is bordered by Grosvenor Lane to the north, Fleming Avenue to the west, the Beltway to the south and I-270 to the east.
The Society of American Foresters currently uses the mansion, a 14-bedroom house built by the Grosvenor family and purchased for $1.23 million in 1990.
EYA wants a Special Exception to raze a separate 22,000-square foot office building that houses the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation, remove a parking lot, relocate another parking lot to a location near 5410 Grosvenor Lane and reduce the total number of parking spaces from 144 to 95. Additional condominium units would be created for the Mansion (also known as Wild Acres) and its historic garage and caretaker’s house.
In its application, EYA’s attorney writes that the plan was well received by Montgomery County’s Historic Preservation Commission in two meetings last year.
Earlier this year, some individual residents of Wildwood Manor lost a fight against a rezoning of the Wildwood Medical Center (10401 Old Georgetown Rd.) that will allow for a new five-story, 58-unit apartment complex using the county’s Productivity Housing guidelines.
The Productivity Housing program requires 35 percent of the units (21 units) will be below the area-wide median income. The program is meant to provide for affordable housing in new projects in commercial or office zones.
EYA argues for the Grosvenor Mansion townhouse development because it would create residential infill development close to public transit, protect the Mansion, the Legacy Open Space forest and act upon a previously approved but never acted upon Special Exception for more office space on the property.
Streetscape Partners also partnered in Symphony Park, a development of 112 brownstone townhomes near the Strathmore Mansion on Rockville Pike that are fetching $2 to $3 million each.
Flickr photo by winninator
Pepco’s outage map showed 2,710 customers without power in neighborhoods just north of the Beltway and mostly east of Rockville Pike at 10:30 a.m. The estimated restoration time is 9 a.m. tomorrow (Friday.)
There were also 182 customers without power in neighborhoods on the east side of Rockville Pike along Cedar Lane. The estimated restoration time there is 11 a.m. tomorrow, according to the outage map.
Gusty winds following Wednesday night’s rain remained on Thursday.
Photo via Pepco Outage Map
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service officials are investigating what caused a series of brush fires yesterday along I-270 that caused a significant traffic back-up on to the Beltway.
The cause has been ruled “undetermined” by fire and explosive investigators, MCFRS spokeswoman Beth Anne Nesselt said this morning.
Yesterday, a Maryland State Police official told The Gazette the fires might have been intentionally set.
There were about nine separate fires spread almost half a mile from the Rockville Pike ramp to Rockledge Drive. Firefighters were working simultaneously to put out fires on each side of the Grosvenor Lane overpass when the event was called in around 1 p.m.
Firefighters on the scene reported no abandoned vehicles along the right-hand shoulder that may have contributed to the fire.
To access the fire, firefighters and emergency personell had to use all three lanes of the highway, closing off all but one lane of traffic that was getting by in the left shoulder.
That caused back-ups on the outer loop of the Beltway into the P.M. rush hour.
(UPDATED: 3:00 p.m.) Montgomery County firefighters put out a series of brush fires that began along the right side of northbound I-270 this afternoon and threatened nearby townhomes.
The fires began at about 1 p.m. and stretched almost half a mile from the Beltway and Rockville Pike exits onto I-270 to Old Georgetown Road. At 2:50 p.m, MCFRS officials reported a fire near townhomes on Englishman Drive had been completely put out.
The fires have caused a significant traffic delay as all three lanes of I-270 North and the ramp from Rockville Pike remain closed. Cars are getting by in a single lane of traffic on the right shoulder.
MCFRS officials on the scene requested the fire marshall to help investigate what started the fires. There were no reported auto fires along I-270 at the time the fire started.
There were fires on each side of the Grosvenor Lane overpass. Firefighters requested an ambulance unit as a precaution, but nobody was reported injured.
A resident at the Grosvenor recently found their car missing some very important parts.
Police say they received a call for a car up on cinder blocks on Wednesday afternoon in the 10400 block of Grosvenor Place.
The owner of the vehicle had already made a police report for stolen tires and rims. A tow truck took the car to a local repair shop.
Police are investigating when the tire theft took place, but New Year’s Day is known as one of the most busy holidays for car thieves. In 2011, more car thefts took place on New Year’s Day nationwide than any holiday other than Halloween. New Year’s Eve ranked fifth on the list.
About half a dozen Arlington residents had their tires stolen and cars placed on cinder blocks late last year.
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials are slated to discuss an aggressive maintenance schedule at Bethesda Metro stops when they come to a citizens advisory board meeting on Monday.
Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said WMATA understands the inconvenience of weekend station closings and train delays, but the system must “catch up” on maintenance after years of work that was pushed off.
“This is not the position we want to be in,” Stessel said. “Much of it is safety-related. When that catch-up phase is done, we will back off from doing track work as frequently.”
Metro has made a commitment to replace or rehabilitate many facets of the Red Line — insulator renewal (meaning the third rail), water and tunnel leak repairs, platform reconstruction, electrical upgrades and the replacement of track circuit modules, included.
Stessel characterized that process as more than a year-old and a few years away from completion.
On the weekends of Sept. 21-Sept. 23 and Oct. 19-Oct. 21 the Bethesda and Medical Center Metro stations were closed for work on both tracks. Metro replaced trains with free shuttle buses between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Friendship Heights.
“Weekends are our best opportunity to get the work done. If you think about the work window that’s available to us overnight after the system closes, that’s really only about three hours, maybe three and a half,” Stessel said. “So weekends are when the action happens, the best way to maximize productivity to get as much done as possible.”
Members of the Western Montgomery Citizens Advisory Board are likely to hear the same answers at their November meeting on Monday at the Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.
For the next two months no major track work that will close stations or single track on the west side of the Red Line is scheduled.
Stessel said Metro expects to have its weekend track work schedule for the first six months of 2013 set up in the next few weeks.
Flickr photo by SubiYurek
The concept is at the forefront of most planning and development discussions and is an especially popular topic in the Bethesda area, where Montgomery County hopes entire new urban destinations sprout up around Metro stations without the cars and traffic of suburbs or exurbs.
Bethesda itself, which includes downtown, Bethesda Row and Woodmont Triangle, got a “Walk Score” of 97 and was labeled as a “walker’s paradise,” for its easy access to restaurants, shops, entertainment, office and residential areas.
The White Flint Metro station neighborhood got a score of 89, good for a “very walkable” rating ahead of the massive mixed-use development underway and planned up and down Rockville pike.
Medical Center didn’t fare as well, garnering a score of 57, or a “somewhat walkable” rating. The station serves employees and visitors of NIH and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, two of the county’s largest employers.
The area around the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station was rated as one of the least walkable neighborhoods in the Washington area. It was slapped with a walk score of 48, qualifying it as a “car-dependent” community.