Monday, October 31, 2016
The Claiborne downtown Bethesda condo project heads to Planning Board
Writing on behalf of Donohoe, VP Jad Donohoe notes that the plans are not definitive on the exact setback for The Claiborne on Auburn. Were the building not to have the 35.5' distance from the center of Auburn Avenue as the Gallery was required to provide by the Board, Donohoe writes, the block will look poorly planned and The Claiborne will obstruct views of the retail at the Gallery.
Second, Donohoe advises the commissioners to require undergrounding of utilities and Bethesda Streetscape sidewalk standards around the block from Norfolk Avenue to the point where Donohoe provided such at their Gallery site on Del Ray Avenue. "Failure to complete a whole city block adjacent to Woodmont Triangle’s 'Main Street' [Norfolk Avenue] would be a missed opportunity," Donohoe writes. Currently, planning staff are only asking developer Novo to complete the streetscape on Norfolk up to where it meets Del Ray, not all the way down to the Gallery.
There is also concern for the noise impact from rooftop mechanical systems at The Claiborne on residents in the Gallery, as the new building is proposed to be set back only 15' from the Gallery. Donohoe says noise shielding of those systems with wells, solid walls and a trellis could help solve the problem.
Finally, Donohoe recommends The Claiborne's garage entry next to the Gallery's ground-level retail have more-attractive translucent panels instead of blank steel, and that the garage door and loading dock keep their doors lowered except when vehicles are entering or exiting from them. He points out that this will give pedestrians more time to react to vehicles using these entries.
Planning staff is recommending approval of the sketch plan, with conditions. They write that the concerns Donohoe raised will be addressed at the Site Plan stage of the project.