The developer of a luxury Westin Hotel planned for the Bethesda Court Hotel and next-door retail building will go back to the Planning Board on Thursday, April 4 with a revised plan that Planning Staff says addresses concerns from neighboring property owners.
D.C.-based developer The Bernstein Companies modified the design on the south side of the two-building development (7740 Wisconsin Ave.) that will include 466,000 square feet of office, retail and hotel space now with an additional 19 rooms for a total of 222. The changes include reallocating 2,885 square feet of office space to restaurant/retail and hotel use.
The hotel as proposed would be include 12 floors with a lobby entrance on Woodmont Avenue in the south building on the property. The north building, separated by a 36-foot wide pedestrian pass-through connecting Wisconsin and Woodmont Avenues, would be an 11-floor office building with a lobby entry and ground-floor retail opening up to Wisconsin Avenue.
Planning Staff said it met with the owners of the Bethesda Place office buildings and apartment complex south of the property and they are OK with the new plan’s design and compatibility.
The development includes razing and building on what is now the Smoothie King-led collection of shops at 7720 Wisconsin Ave.
The Bernstein Companies is proposing 576 underground parking spaces for hotel guests and shoppers.
The Woodmont to Wisconsin Avenue pedestrian cut-thru is similar to one proposed by Chevy Chase-based developer JBG a few blocks north, at its 17-story, 475-unit apartment planned for 7900 Wisconsin Ave.
Renderings via Montgomery County Planning Department
Owners said the reopening of the much-talked about crafts store in its new Woodmont Triangle location was supposed to come March 1.
The opening may not come for at least another two weeks, according to a store employee. The store was selling snow shovels and sleds yesterday in front of its new digs, the former Creative Parties Ltd. house at 8011 Woodmont Ave.
Employees on Wednesday were stocking shelves, which have been installed for a look similar to Bruce Variety’s space of more than 60 years in Bradley Shopping Center.
Owners Linda Ridenour and Richard Dimock’s decision to close that location because of what they complained was an exorbitant rent led to an outpouring of support from the community, extensive media coverage and even a petition with more than 2,900 signatures asking the owner of Bradley Shopping Center to renegotiate the lease.
Creative Parties Ltd. owner and President Tracy Bloom Schwartz said she decided to move her event planning and wedding invitation store out of the blue and green house because of uncertainty with the property.
Chevy Chase-based developer JBG intended to make the property part of a joint project with Montgomery County to build a new 2nd District Police Station and apartment complex before that deal fell through.
Instead of signing another five-year lease at a location where redevelopment might be on the horizon, Bloom Schwartz moved across the street to the first floor of the Landow Building.
A pedestrian and car collision that closed Wisconsin Avenue for a few minutes on Sunday night was not serious and the pedestrian involved is expected to recover, according to Montgomery County Police.
Police spokeswoman Angela Cruz said the incident occurred around 6:15 p.m. on Sunday at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Woodmont Avenue.
The pedestrian was transported to a local hospital but police did not send out traffic crew units, meaning it does not appear the accident was serious.
County officials say pedestrian collisions are more common this time of year because of the shorter days and dark conditions that accompany morning and afternoon rush hours.
This morning, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) is celebrating the five-year anniversary of his Pedestrian Safety Initiative, which the county claims has led to a decrease in pedestrian collisions and fatalities.
Montgomery Leaders Want ‘Huge Infusion of Cash’ For Transportation — At yesterday’s transportation summit in Annapolis, Montgomery County leaders said the state must raise its gas tax to fund critical transportation projects as area roads get more congested. [Washington Post]
Popular Chinese Restaurant Owner Finds New Home — Fu Cheung, the owner of the the Foong Lin Chinese restaurant on Norfolk Avenue, has taken over management of Moon Gate (4613 Willow Ln.) Cheung had to leave his space of more than two decades earlier this year because of development in Woodmont Triangle. [Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row]
Developer Holding Community Meeting On Wisconsin Avenue Apartments — Developer JBG Cos. will discuss its site plan application for a mixed-use development at 7900 Wisconsin Ave. in a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane). This is the part of the failed JBG/Montgomery County effort to build the new 2nd District police station that will go forward as a private project.
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.
Police released a shorter-than-usual crime report for the week leading up to Thanksgiving, but it included a serious incident from Sunday, Nov. 18:
An aggravated assault occurred at Woodmont Avenue & Rugby Avenue, Bethesda on Sunday, 11/18 at approximately 11:30 p.m. The suspect threatened the victim with a weapon and the victim fled.
Suspect: B/M, 25-28, 5’10”-5’11”, 150-180 lbs.
More from the most recent Bethesda area crime summary after the jump.
A black SUV collided with a Montgomery County Police cruiser just before 1:30 p.m. on Woodmont Avenue.
The accident took place just south of Old Georgetown Road, near the Bethesda Metro station.
No one was hurt in the collision and police were on the scene investigating the accident. The cruiser appeared to be angling in to the middle lane.
Developers and Montgomery County have been working on plans to build at the bustling intersection of Woodmont and Bethesda Avenues since 2005.
Only now, a few weeks after construction started on the project that forced the closure of Woodmont Avenue south of Bethesda Row, are many residents and businesses starting to take notice.
Many of their reactions have not been kind.
“To drive down Woodmont and suddenly dead end into a wall of construction, only to have to detour either left into hell, or right into hell!,” wrote Bethesda resident Deborah Stevens in a letter to The Gazette newspaper last week.
“I’m starting to think of other ways to get around,” said Joanna Colbourne, a Bethesda resident who works in an office building on Bethesda Avenue just west of Wisconsin Avenue.
She said afternoon rush hour congestion on Bethesda Avenue means cars leaving her office parking garage are backed up to the second level. A trip that typically took 30 seconds can now take eight minutes.
Zen Tara Tea, also on Bethesda Avenue, tweeted that construction has caused sidewalk disruption in one of Bethesda’s most walked areas. A temporary pedestrian crossing has been constructed just north of the road closure.
Stevens admitted “I don’t think anyone saw it coming.”
At a meeting of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board on Monday night, a group of residents from the Crescent Plaza Condominium on Woodmont Avenue spoke to County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) about the disruptions.
One was surprised to learn one of the permanent changes of the 20-month project will be a median on Leland Street. Drivers will not be able to make left turns onto Woodmont.
Last week, county traffic chief Emil Wolanin said the closure, in general, has affected traffic and congestion as officials expected.
The county’s Department of Transportation added some signage to Leland Street to keep motorists from cutting through the residential neighborhood.
StonebridgeCarras, the lead developer of the project, is building a parking garage under what is now Woodmont Avenue, part of its agreement with the county to buy the publicly-owned parking lots and redevelop them with two apartment buildings.
Wolanin said the 20-month closure was unavoidable because of the large scale nature of the project.