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: