Wednesday, March 12, 2014



Here are the first renderings of a new retail building that could replace the vacant Fresh Grill building, and adjacent driveway, on Fairmont Avenue. You may recall that a month ago, I reported on a design study underway by the architecture firm of Steven J. Karr, AIA, Inc., for Lot 667 in the Woodmont Triangle. The study was to develop a concept for a commercial-retail building, and that is what these initial renderings show. (Click on each photo to enlarge for greater detail)

From these images, it appears that the building would provide a retail/restaurant bridge between the existing BlackFinn structure at 4901 Fairmont Avenue, and the future Bainbridge Bethesda luxury apartment tower. There are two significant points about that. One is that - based on these renderings - this project would leave Bold Bite and BlackFinn Bethesda in place. And second, the design would help activate this block from Norfolk Avenue, all the way down past the Bainbridge, which will have its own ground floor retail and restaurant tenants. This would certainly speed up the activation of this largely dead street, especially if the future tenants are of the caliber Karr was able to draw with his last Bethesda project (Smashburger, Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins, and Roof).

The removal of the driveway is another potential strong point. Pedestrians around Bethesda Row can attest as to the numerous points where one must contend with vehicles crossing the sidewalks. Of course, this driveway was never high in vehicular traffic, but the new design will create a continuous pedestrian streetscape, nonetheless.

Design-wise, the building features the Windows-on-Woodmont-Triangle architecture that turned out so well in the Karr-designed Norfolk-Cordell II building (referred to above). In this case, the height of the windows is even more dramatic, however. The floor plan will allow up to 7000 square feet of retail space.

It appears the project is going forward, as potential tenants are already being sought. The building is tentatively scheduled to be delivered in the fall of 2015. Leasing is being handled by Greenhill Realty. The Lot 667 property is owned by White Flint Express Realty Group and Greenhill Capital. 
A potentially more-inviting,
Fairmont Avenue

Here's what's there today: the
vacant Fresh Grill building (center),
the Bainbridge Bethesda tower (left),
an alley/driveway, and the
existing Bold Bite/BlackFinn building

This driveway appears to be eliminated in
the renderings. However, Lot 667 also
fronts on St. Elmo, so there are other
options for loading access

This building is currently vacant
All renderings courtesy of Steven J. Karr, AIA, Inc.; All rights reserved.
Photos: Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row


Anonymous said...

Didn't they just recently build that stupid one story building?

Robert Dyer said...

No, the building they designed at Norfolk and Cordell was 2 stories, with the rooftop restaurant.

Anonymous said...

I think he meant that fresh grill building was just put up a few years ago and now they are going to knock it down again.

Anonymous said...

They are claiming the adjacent construction of the high-rise damaged the building and made it unsafe to occupy.