Tuesday, October 09, 2012



Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive

The future of the Westbard Sector in Bethesda has just been upended again.  In a shocking development, Capital Properties has sold the retail Westwood Complex - including the venerable Westwood Shopping Center-  plus the Manor Care nursing home, and Westwood Tower apartment building, to Equity One for $140 million.

Terms of these properties' leases have become public in the transaction.  Giant Food's lease in the Westwood Shopping Center expires in 2019, meaning that Giant could be lost in any redevelopment.  It is important to note that Giant once held a 99-year lease, which began in 1959.  Strangely, Giant signed a new lease just a few years ago.  My guess at the time was that Capital Properties offered them a lower rate, in exchange for a shorter lease.  Now it appears that is likely what happened.  Could the neighborhoods around Westbard lose the Giant in 2019?  Would Giant sign a new lease in the existing space, or in a new, redeveloped space on Westbard?  The point is, we don't know at this point.

Even worse, we now know that Manor Care's lease is up in 2015, and Westwood Tower's in 2017.  Of the two, the nursing home is more likely to be demolished to make way for a new development.

In any case, the game has changed again, and until I can do some research on Equity One, I can't tell you what kind of company they are to deal with.  Capital Properties was widely considered one of the toughest and most formidable in citizen-developer negotiations.

Coincidentally, or not (hmm....), Montgomery County's Planning Board announced just hours before Equity One made its announcement, that it will take up the Westbard Sector Plan in 2015.  Just in time to make changes favorable to the developer - how convenient.  And the first lease expires that year.  Just a coincidence, folks!

To be more optimistic, maybe the new developer will be more willing to work with the community.  Like bringing Farrell's back to the Westwood Shopping Center.

Strangely, the Park Bethesda and Bowlmor were not announced as part of the deal.  There are also two Citgo gas stations on Westbard.  Kenwood Place Condominiums is owned by the residents, and not subject to sale.

Stay tuned for more details!


Anonymous said...


Where did you see that this deal has closed? Equity One still has the sale listed as pending on their website but has other sales that sold in Dec.

Robert Dyer said...

At the time of this article, the transaction was reported by business publications as a sale. However, as I reported in a post a few weeks ago, Equity One does not actually "own" the property yet. They have a mortgage, with an option to buy. The CEO said that he intends to exercise that option as soon as possible. That will likely happen within the next 12-24 months. I think that is why it's listed as pending.

Anonymous said...

Westwood Shopping Center is listed as active for sale on MLS and Equity One does not have it on their website anymore. Do you have any updated/ additional information on this transaction?


Robert Dyer said...

Do you have a URL link for the MLS listing? I cannot find a listing for the shopping center in any search I've tried. I'm definitely interested to confirm it is for sale or not. But it may not appear on the Equity One site for a different reason - they haven't closed on that piece of the deal yet. The ones listed are those they have closed on so far.

Anonymous said...

I think you misunderstand the planning process if you think the planning department took up this sector plan in order to serve the developer. With the sector plan the community can engage with the process and ultimately create a better result and guide new development. I think your are fanning the flames of paranoia and distrust and it's a shame and does not add to the discussion.

Robert Dyer said...

8:50 I think we'll know if that's true when we get the final product of the Westbard plan. If it is low density as 99% of residents have asked, then the system will have worked. If it urbanizes Westbard despite overwhelming resident opposition, then my concerns about timing will have been validated. Having said that, I think the process of the Sector Plan charrette has been valuable to the community, and some very good ideas have been brought forward by the planners which I hope will remain in the finished product.

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