Tuesday, August 26, 2014


The future of St. Elmo Avenue got bigger last night, when the sketch design for the 16-story St. Elmo Apartments was unveiled at a public meeting in Bethesda. Steve Robins, with Lerch, Early & Brewer, presented the sketch plan he said Lenkin Companies will submit to county planners within the next month.

A mixed-use project, St. Elmo Apartments will include up to 15,500 SF of retail space, up to 210 luxury apartments, and a potential second floor office space for Lenkin, which has been headquartered at this site since 1970. Chef Tony's and Pizza Pass would be demolished for the construction, currently scheduled to begin in mid-2016 or 2017.

Lenkin has hired David M. Schwarz to design the building, and Robins said they are aiming for a "timeless" design, rather than "trendy or aping past traditional style." He said glass will be the predominant exterior feature. DMS designed the Baltimore Orioles training facility, along with many big projects in the DC region. Lenkin has selected Rhodeside & Harwell for the landscaping and exterior space, a firm that worked on the impressive Intelsat Tysons Tower recently.

Public space is a priority for the developer, Robins said, and Lenkin hopes to work closely with next-door neighbor Bainbridge to realize a pedestrian plaza that will give a strong sense of place.

Speaking of place, the building entrance and parking will front on St. Elmo, as the developer feels that street is "more marketable" than Fairmont Avenue (although the project applicant's official name is 4931 Fairmont Avenue LLC).

Building amenities will include a roof terrace, a pool one flight down from the roof, and dens for some of the 1 and 2 bedroom units.

A St. Elmo Avenue businessperson attending last night's meeting expressed concern about parking, noting that the Cordell-St. Elmo public parking garage is full by midday, creating parking problems for her customers.

In a departure from the trend these days, Robins said St. Elmo Apartments will actually provide more than the required parking on-site - 220 underground spaces in a 4-level garage for 210 (or less) apartments. He also said that the pathway next to the 7770 Norfolk apartments on Fairmont Avenue will make the Woodmont Avenue garage accessible to visitors or patrons of businesses at the St. Elmo Apartments.

As you'll see in the images below (click to enlarge for greater detail), there are alternative plans to capitalize on the space between the St. Elmo and Bainbridge. The most promising would create a large, Bethesda Lane-style public space between the buildings. This is similar to what will eventually exist on Auburn and Del Ray Avenues, when The Rugby is built across from Gallery Bethesda.

There's a lot of potential to do something special with this project, and several high-quality firms involved. Done right, this could be a great addition to the Woodmont Triangle.
Woodmont Triangle and
current zoning

Aerial view that shows several
new and future buildings
in tan color
(Gallery Bethesda, The Rugby upper left;
Bainbridge and 4990 Fairmont center;
7990 Wisconsin, 7770 Norfolk right)

Show me the blueprints,
show me the blueprints

16 stories above
the Woodmont Triangle

Public space
Some individual units

Showing roof terrace and
pool one level down

3 possible configurations for
the public street/plaza between
the buildings

And thank you for
All images courtesy Lenkin Companies
and DMS Architects, All rights reserved


Anonymous said...

I'm actually really excited about this one. Seems the developer is actively trying to maintain some continuity with it's surroundings, in particular with the Bainbridge.

dreespe some said...

So much for that glorious western view from the Bainbridge.

And soon, the eastern view, too. Bwahahaha!

Brad Longley said...

That's downtown living for you. But these building views are creepily close. I wonder how Gallery and Triangle Tower residents feel looking out their windows at each other. "Good morning" indeed! :)