Thursday, December 15, 2016

Developer promises "timeless" design for St. Elmo Apartments, public promenade in Bethesda (Photos)

Developer Lenkin Companies is promising an apartment tower and public space with "timeless" design for downtown Bethesda's Woodmont Triangle. The St. Elmo Apartments will displace the offices Lenkin's headquarters has occupied for 45 years, along with other popular businesses like Chef Tony's and Vuk. But the new building will provide 15,488 SF of commercial space (Lenkin may be one of the office tenants), and a 30'-wide public promenade between it and next-door neighbor Bainbridge Bethesda.
View of the proposed
promenade from across
St. Elmo Ave. looking toward
Fairmont Ave.; that's the
existing Bainbridge Bethesda
apartment tower at left
Lenkin's attorney, Steve Robins, unveiled details on the project's Site Plan at a required public meeting last night, and on a plan amendment that will deal with the promenade alone. That promenade will be wider than the current walkway along the Bainbridge between St. Elmo and Fairmont Avenues. The current art along the fence there will be relocated, and new public art will be installed in the center of the space. 
Aerial view of the proposed
pedestrian promenade, one of
the public amenities included
in the Site Plan
Terracing will be used to make more dynamic use of the downward slope along the promenade from Fairmont, and a handmade clock on the St. Elmo end will drive home the "timeless" theme. Pavers that feel like cobblestone, and cantilever lighting that will add an "elegant sparkle," will round out the promenade's design features.
Tan represents the
proposed public space
around the building
There will be niches for tables and chairs, as opposed to the current haphazard placement on the angled slope. However, there is no restaurant currently planned for the ground level of the St. Elmo Apartments. With the Bainbridge so far not having any restaurants (they do have the Gold Leaf Bakery on the St. Elmo side) leasing space, the level of activation of the promenade will be somewhat restrained, and probably not a bustling spot after business hours.
Floorplan of a typical
residential level of the
St. Elmo Apartments
Those were the primary new details. As for the residential component itself, plans remain for 193 units, with the hope of getting approval for 210. 15% of the units will be affordable MPDUs, and the rest will be market rate 1-and-2 bedroom apartments, some with dens. 238 parking spaces remain in the plan, far more than Lenkin is required to build on this site under current zoning rules.
Rendering of one of
the levels of underground
parking
The project's sketch plan and preliminary plan were already approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board last year. Robins said the applicant plans to file the Site Plan with the Planning Department in January. He anticipates the Planning Board will review the Site Plan in April, and hopes to have the property recorded and certified by the end of 2017. That means there will likely be no construction on the project next year.
Diagram of the building's
green roof
There was no vocal opposition to the apartment tower at last night's meeting, which was held at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center. At least one attendee was concerned about excavation damage to nearby properties, as occurred during the construction of the Bainbridge next door. One person with knowledge of the situation, and of construction, said that incident was due purely to construction error.
Diagram of ground floor
level; parking garage and
lobby access will be from
St. Elmo, loading dock
will be on Fairmont
On a nostalgic note that came up last night, one of the structures that will be demolished to make way for the building will be remembered best as the home of the Bethesda TV repair shop.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mike Brady strikes again..

Anonymous said...

Harbinger of things to come: nice, small restaurants in Woodmont Triangle-- like Chef Tony's-- will get displaced by chains. Ugh.

Joshua Harte said...

5:11 I imagine independent restaurants/stores will still choose to locate themselves in Woodmont Triangle over, say, Pike & Rose. Woodmont Triangle has always been pretty friendly to independent owners, even through the more recent growth. Maybe I'm being to optimistic, as I, too, don't want to see Bethesda be overrun by chains like Starbucks, Target, and Harris Teeter.

Joshua Harte said...

*too

Thanks, keyboard.