One new detail is that the office and residential towers, on Wisconsin Avenue and Elm Street respectively, will sit atop a shared podium that will hold building entrances, retail and restaurant space and parking facilities for both. That parking arrangement is critical to the sketch plan amendment.
In that amendment, the developer is asking for a height increase from 250' to 290', on the legal basis that the 40' tall, four-level above-grade parking garage permits the height of such garages to be added to the maximum height of the project itself. Zoning Text Amendment 16-08, passed by the County Council, allows this height increase in exchange for the proposed garage, because the layout of the site does not allow for 4 levels of below-grade parking. The cross-section renderings do show three levels of below-grade parking, in addition to the 4 above-grade decks.
New details about the architecture of the project have been revealed. For the Wisconsin Avenue office tower, a five-story retail and parking base will sit beneath a "series of glass boxes" that alternate going up, so to allow for terraces. Behind that segment will be a more-traditionally massed part of the office tower, which will be closer to 290' (that full 290' height appears to be placed even further back, in the residential tower). The alternating front portion will not be as tall, in an attempt to address criticism from residents of Chevy Chase.
While primarily massed along Elm Street, the residential building will front on the Wisconsin Avenue plaza. A skybridge will connect its two towers, which will share a 4-to-6 story base. Interestingly, Carr is employing a number of "townhouse-like" residential units along the structured parking in that base, a trend first seen in the Flats 8300 development further up Wisconsin.
|View from sidewalk at|
Barnes and Noble on
Carr has also received conditional approval from the Historic Preservation Commission to relocate the historic Community Paint and Hardware building from the Apex site to Public Parking Lot 41 on Middleton Lane. The developer has said the temporary removal of the building is necessary in order to construct the large below-grade space for a movie theater tenant. Carr is negotiating with Regal Cinemas, which has the contractual right to have first consideration for the new theater space. For those interested, Carr continues to commit to having easy pedestrian access to the new development from the Woodmont Plaza below (where Haagen Dazs and the Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema are located).
The current numbers for the project stand as follows, if approved by the Planning Board: two 290' towers, 360800 SF of office space (Marriott is the most-rumored tenant, but the hotel giant will not publicly announce the location of its new Bethesda headquarters and hotel until next year), 14572 SF of retail and restaurant space (including the cineplex), and 480 residential units, 15% of which will be affordable MPDUs. There will be 7500 SF of public space, 5% more than is required by the County, and Carr has agreed to not include patio dining space in its calculation of that number.
While the County Council and Planning Board failed to require a replacement theater be included in the project, the developer is wise to try to get Regal or a competitor on board. With a new IMAX-quality cineplex, and the right array of dining options on the plaza level, Carr's development would be a serious competitor for the adjacent Bethesda Row development. Without the theater? Not so much.
|November 2016 revised|
|View into entrance of|
CCT bike facility under
|Two-level bike facility|
with ramp access from CCT;
the facility will include parking
for more than 250 bikes
|Tail tracks for Purple Line|
shown at Woodmont Plaza end
|A central feature will be|
this public plaza at the
corner of Wisconsin Avenue
and Elm Street
Overall, assuming the movie theater remains part of the new development, this is a very promising project atop two rail stations. If Marriott moves into the site, it is likely to be one of the premiere properties in the D.C. region, and a new signature building for downtown Bethesda.