Tuesday, April 02, 2013


The Lauren, an ultra-luxury boutique condo building, could replace The Hampden apartments, a gravel parking lot, and two houses along Woodmont Avenue between Hampden Lane and Montgomery Lane.

A 7-story building with 22 large units, The Lauren aims to be downtown Bethesda's most exclusive address. Private elevator entrances, a Mr. Drummond-style rooftop terrace, and a 24-hour concierge are just a few of the amenities residents will enjoy.

An amendment to the existing site plan that would allow balconies has been submitted by prominent development attorney Jody Kline.

Although by no fault of the Lauren's developer, once again we witness not only the loss of existing affordable housing in downtown Bethesda, but the betrayal of decade-old promises by the county council.

Over ten years ago, the Arlington Road corridor was planned to have more affordable apartments. Ironically, it has ended up being home to - literally - the most expensive and exclusive residences in downtown Bethesda.

This is why I always say to ignore what Montgomery County councilmembers say, and pay attention to what they actually do.

They say they want young people to live in Bethesda.

But they're knocking down what little affordable housing is left. 

This is not as bad as the Battery Lane disaster. But it's worth doing the math, folks.

"Smart" growth advocates tell us overdevelopment is about creating affordable housing.

The Hampden currently contains 12 units with rents of $1100-1575.

The Lauren will house 15% MPDUs. With 22 units, that comes to 3 MPDUs by my calculation.

In total, then, this project represents a net loss of 9 affordable housing units in Bethesda.

Again, this is in no way the fault of the developer of The Lauren. It sounds like it's going to be a fabulous place to live, literally across the street from Bethesda Row.

The fault lies squarely with the planning and zoning decisions made by the county council - the buck stops there, at least in theory.

Here are some photos of what's there now, and some renderings of what The Lauren will look like:


Anonymous said...

I fail to see how the county is to "blame" for this development.

A. It's up to the planning board to approve the project, not the county council

B. It's the developer that chose to build ultra-high end residences

C. The location of the property has a very high market value, and no developer in their right mind would build "affordable" housing on the plot

D. There's a brand new 4-story residential building for the homeless literally a 30 sec walk down the street (on similarly very valuable property). Doesn't get more "affordable"than that...

E. As you mention, the county's highly-lauded MPDU requirement still applies.

F. Montgomery does far more to encourage affordable housing than other expensive jurisdictions such as DC, Arlington, and Fairfax

Anonymous said...

And according to the rendering it looks like the two houses on Montgomery Ln are still there (unfortunately)

Anonymous said...

Ignore my previous comment I thought the 5th rendering was the perspective from across Woodmont Ave, but I see that it's actually Montgomery Ln.

Robert Dyer said...

The Planning Board is appointed by the County Council, and the council also has final authority on development projects.

The apartment building for homeless has a handful of units, and became a national laughingstock when it was exposed that each homeless person could have been purchased a SFH in Montgomery County for the $ spent per apartment. I was referring to affordable housing for "hip" young professionals we keep hearing about, not the homeless. Those young people are ineligible to live in the homeless building.

Of course the developer chose luxury. That's the point - planning and zoning decisions made long ago by the council set the rules.

A check of waitlists, and plans to tear down *existing* affordable units in Bethesda, Wheaton, Silver Spring, Glenmont, Long Branch, etc. suggests MoCo gets an "F" for affordable housing efforts.

Tiago said...

Everywhere new luxury houses replace old ones when a neighborhood grows. Poor people are removed and rich ones occup take up the place. I lived some years in a rent apartment in buenos aires when I was younger, I saw how the Real State agencies converted a middle class neighborhood into a fashion one (Old Palermo). Where there were houses appeared spectacular buildings and everything changed irreversible in 10 years. It is not bad or good, it just is like it is.

Amelia Wilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amelia Wilson said...

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