Friday, July 12, 2013


Attendees at a public meeting last night got the first look at the bank building proposed for the current Shell station at the corner of Old Georgetown Road and Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda.

A small TD Bank branch, with automated drive-thru aisles, would take the place of both the Shell and a small Moorland Lane office structure.

A representative for the project said no blasting would be required, and that vehicular trips in-and-out of the bank would be fewer than the current gas station generates. The branch will be open 7-days-a-week.

Entrances and exits will be on the Moorland and Woodmont sides of the property. The project would also improve the streetscape with landscaping, lighting and brick sidewalk pavers, to replace the existing white concrete. Curb cuts on the Old Georgetown side would be closed permanently.

There will be 9 customer parking spaces behind the building, and the bank will sport a green roof. Environmental remediation will be conducted, along with removal of the site's underground fuel tanks.

The project plan is expected to be filed this summer.

It was said that the site is designated for small scale use. Considering the proximity of the site to Metro, and to tall buildings, that is surprising to hear.

There are 4 potential issues here:

1. Density is low for a site within throwing distance of a subway station. The representative said the site is too small for a building. But, the fact is, 3 other Bethesda gas stations are jamming buildings onto their sites in the next 12-24 months. Punting on low density here shifts the population burden to non-urban areas like Westbard, Sangamore, Long Branch and Woodley Gardens. That makes little planning sense.

2. This is an automobile-oriented project in what we're told is a walkable community. If we were going to be contradictory to the county's stated development goals, why not have something of use to a greater number of residents like a drive-thru Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, etc.?

3. This site will be dead at night, even in contrast to the activity currently generated by the Shell station after dark. The Metropolitan is already a Berlin Wall. Lionsgate is dead on the first floor at night. So, this bank would essentially seal the fate of this intersection as a dead zone for pedestrians at night. Again, this contradicts everything the county has told us about "smart" growth.

4. We're running out of gas stations, even as the number of cars and people increases. With Sunoco closing in the future, we'll be down to 3 gas stations. Aside from sure gas shortages during weather events, can you imagine what the prices will be at those gas stations?

Renderings: Core/Bohler. All Rights Reserved.


Anonymous said...

Wow what a ridiculous waste of land. The BP at 4990 Fairmont Ave gets a 17-story condo building, yet this site practically right on top of the Metro gets a one-story, suburban style bank?! This is worse than the old Exxon site on Wisconsin (also on top of the Metro) getting "only" a 14-story residential building.

Why not build the bank with some office space on top? Well, at least it won't be as much as an eyesore as the gas station. In 10 years DT Bethesda is gonna have the weirdest looking skyline in the area.

Anonymous said...

I'm dismayed that MoCo's crown jewel, Bethesda, is going to suffer from some of the worst urban planning I've seen in the region.

The council and planning board have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to downtown Bethesda. Everyone is realizing that now.

Anonymous said...

This site, including the small office building, has to be larger than the BP on Fairmont. I don't get why they said it's too small to do anything else than a bank.

That will be a desolate stretch of woodmont at night, with the bank closed and the Christopher/Metropolitan both present brick walls to the street.

Anonymous said...

Only silly rich folks pay the $$ these downtown Bethesda gas stations are getting for gas... Most everybody else gas up where it's more reasonable - like anywhere outside Bethesda. So long Shell!

Anonymous said...

Agreed...I avoid these downtown stations when possible and fill up in other places such as Rockville.

Shell does take Giant reward points, so that helps :)

Anonymous said...

I've noticed banks are going for much more modern architecture these days. Gone are the old designs that Chevy Chase bank and the like were using a few years ago (greek columns, etc.)

Anonymous said...

I would have preferred an ice cream shop.

Chris S. said...

It's a shame to see the station go. I loved that it was surviving with it's funky 60s (or earlier?) design in the midst of all the bland shiny highrises.

Anonymous said...

I will dearly miss the Shell station! It's close to my house I use Giant points for gas. I DO NOT want to waste gas driving to Hell's Half acre just to fuel up my car!