Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Toll Brothers buys 8008 Wisconsin from Douglas Development in Bethesda
Hampden Row, is currently under construction at Arlington Road and Hampden Lane.
This is a significant real estate story for two reasons. First, Douglas had been pondering switching its plan for 140 apartments on that site to condos. Now we know this will be condos. And second, it's surprising that Douglas would punt on this project. Unless you think the condo market is weakening in 20814, of course.
The Toll Brothers units will clearly be larger than what Douglas planned - there will be only 100 units now, rather than the 130-140 rental apartments originally envisioned. Amenities will include a 24/7 manned lobby, concierge services, the now-mandatory rooftop terrace, a fitness center and an underground parking garage. The building's height will remain 14 stories, and there is no word yet on what the building's retail/restaurant square footage will be. Douglas had planned a restaurant for the corner of Cordell and Woodmont Avenues.
"With the strong interest we are seeing at Hampden Row, our first Bethesda Toll Brothers City Living building, we are extremely excited to be expanding our City Living brand in the highly-desirable Bethesda market, while further increasing the Toll Brothers urban footprint in the DC metro area,” Toll Brothers CEO Douglas C. Yearley, Jr said yesterday.
And Toll Brothers may not be done yet in Bethesda. The company's City Living and Apartment Living divisions have several projects underway in the region, and Toll says it is eager to acquire additional sites. "With significant capital on hand, we are positioned to close quickly on deals in primary urban locations,” Thomas Mulvey, President of Toll Brothers City Living said Monday. “The new acquisition on Wisconsin Avenue is a prime example and we are actively looking for more development sites to complement it.”
Toll expects construction at 8008 Wisconsin to begin in the summer of 2017, with the first sales of units to begin that winter. Douglas ran into numerous delays with its original development plan for this site, previously home to a venerable surplus store and the "beer house" at the corner of Cordell and Woodmont. The holdup was the bizarre and arbitrary attempt by Montgomery County to take part of the 8008 property to create right-of-way for a proposed Bus Rapid Transit line along Wisconsin Avenue.
The problem is, a right-of-way of that greater width (which the County claims would run from Battery Lane to Bethesda Avenue) could never be built! It is not only blocked by recently-constructed residential and commercial buildings on Wisconsin, but also the historic Bethesda Theatre, which is currently operating as the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.
How about the downtown Bethesda condo market?
JBG's new 7770 Norfolk building recently switched back from condos to apartments and will begin leasing this month. The Lauren, Stonehall and Cheval Bethesda are all under construction now, and Redfin shows 10 units available at The Darcy. And there are more to come.