Friday, April 17, 2015
New renderings of future public downtown Bethesda public plaza at St. Elmo Apartments (Photos)
The plan includes a public plaza that will be joined with the existing pedestrian space at the neighboring Bainbridge Bethesda. A 30' pedestrian plaza will be the result, a place designed for people to relax and enjoy, Robins said. Many aspects will remain the same as the current Bainbridge patio, such as tables and chairs for seating, and plantings.
What's new? A clock will be one landmark on the St. Elmo Apartments side, and a curving design will replace the straight pass-through now at the Bainbridge.
While there will be retail on both sides, the level of vibrancy that will contribute is questionable at present. The retail spaces at Bainbridge have been slow to lease up, and Robins said he expects retail tenants at the St. Elmo to be oriented more toward providing services to building residents than to restaurants.
What's the timeline going forward here? Robins predicted the project would get a hearing before the Montgomery County Planning Board about 4 to 6 months after the plan submission. A final site plan would then require 6-8 months to complete. Groundbreaking would follow about two years later, meaning that we're talking about 2017 or 2018, depending how long the process takes.
The St. Elmo will be a 16-story tower with 210 apartments, and up to 15,488 SF of retail and office space. Designed by David M. Schwartz, the tower will offer 15% affordable units, higher than the required 12.5% under Montgomery County's MPDU program. The garage access for residents will be from the St. Elmo Avenue side of the building.
Images courtesy Lenkin Companies
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