Wednesday, August 02, 2017

EuroMotorcars unveils redevelopment plan for Bethesda dealership property (Photos)

To get right to the takeaways from last night's community meeting on the redevelopment plans of EuroMotorcars...First, wow, the new dealership building shown to face Arlington Road is dramatically impressive - a much taller, glassed-in showroom that should fit well with whatever Federal Realty builds across the street from it in the future. The design was presented by John Penney of the Penney Design Group.

Second, the most common complaint about EuroMotorcars - their delivery trucks unloading in the right lane of Arlington Road - is being fully addressed in this plan. No more trucks parked on Arlington Road, folks, as a new interior street will handle vehicle deliveries. That street will be as wide as Bethesda Avenue, EuroMotorcars General Manager Charlie Harmel said, and will run through the center of the property.
Construction phases
Third, the retail space at the new dealership will be constructed in the final phase of the project, at the corner of Arlington Road and Bethesda Avenue. It will be a pad site, as opposed to being part of the dealership showroom building. Harmel said the future tenant will be a retailer a Mercedes Benz owner would find appealing, so expect something higher-end. Again, that will be a good fit facing high-end Bethesda Row.

Harmel didn't rule out additional pad site retail being added on the Bethesda Avenue side of the property in the future. But in the meantime, those spots will be maintained as surface parking.

The timeline for the project is to submit their plan to Montgomery County in the next few weeks. If approved by the Planning Board, construction will begin in the late spring of 2018, with completion by the end of 2019.

In terms of phasing, they will first demolish the car wash building, and convert it to a temporary sales center. Phase 2 will be the construction of the new interior road. Phase 3 will be completion of the new dealership structures. The final phase - construction of the retail pad site - won't come until the middle of 2020.

EuroMotorcars is a landmark business in downtown Bethesda, selling 2000 new cars and 1500 pre-owned vehicles per year. Harmel says the dealership's service facility works on 150 cars daily. The concept of the redevelopment is to not only improve things from a practical standpoint on the site, but to also better fit the design goals the County has set for downtown Bethesda.


Anonymous said...

You know what would be really awesome? A 30-foot-tall King Kong statue there.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see the dealership incorporating retail. Hopefully this will realty help to activate that block and connect it to Bethesda Row. Shame about the Giant dead corner.

Anonymous said...

Great news post, thanks for the informative info and clean news reporting.

Are they keeping the parking garage structure? I can't really tell from their before and after.

Will there be entrances into their building from the shopping center parking lot? I wonder if/when that gets developed it seems like a lot of glass facade will get covered up. Is there a setback between the lots?

Funny how they wrote the crab shack name but left the wine shop as a black box. Is there a lot of animosity or other between those two?

Will there be a traffic light for their interior street at Arlington? If not, how are the big trucks going to turn in without holding up a lot of traffic?

Is the pad retail only one story?

Thanks! This is exciting.

Anonymous said...

I like the layout and architecture, but am I missing something here? This project seems to be taking a significant step backwards by adding huge surface parking lots along Bethesda Ave. Or is that going to be developed at a later time?

Anonymous said...

Here's to hoping it gets developed later as retail.

Anonymous said...

Rodgers' article was much better. Worth the wait.

Anonymous said...

If you go to the Penney Design Group website, you can view an earlier concept that showed the wine store removed and a very large multiple story Audi Dealership at the coener of Arlington and Bethesda, a pedestrian walkway (to to the the Mercedes Dealership) west of the Audi dealership, and a larger two story pad building west of the pedestrian walkway, then the new car wash.

My guess is they were not able to buy out the wine shop, so they flipped the pad building to the corner. Not sure if an Audi Dealership is still in the works in a future phase, or a different mixed use building, but hopefully not just a parking lot filled with used expensive cars. A large open parking lot would destroy any streetscape. We already have the gap at the Oursman Honda Dealership to the east. I hope the planning commission will require a higher standard along this important west gateway to downtown.

I assume the Mercedes Dealership will want to preserve at least a portion of the customer parking along Bethesda. I hope they can include a nice infill building at some point. Perhaps a small amount of retail lining Bethesda Avenue, with other deeper uses above.

By the way, the design of the new Dealership is clearly a derivative of one of Mercedes standard ptotoypes. The Penney Design Group has built many with those tall columns, large glass box and silver castilated beams. Most car manufactures have developed prototypes that are repeated all over the world to present a cohesive brand. This one certainly won't be unique, but it does look rather nice, at least the part close to Arlington. The rest still looks like a million other car dealerships.

It must be frustrating to be an architect doing so many similar dealerships. Hey, let's go wild and put the glass garage doors on the left side this time! Hey I guess it pays the bills, and maybe gets you a nice deal on your car. To bad unique designs and creativie iconic buildings are not really possible in this architectural typology.

Anonymous said...

Wow, linked from Ken's blog again. His illegal linking to your blog to your profit is out of hand.

Anonymous said...

Dan Reed!, July 17:

"Just Up The Pike turns 11 this year, and I'd like to do something about it. We've built a community of a couple thousand readers, contributors, and local leaders, and I invite all of you to celebrate over a decade of celebrating East County on Tuesday, August 15 from 6 to 8 pm at Kaldi's Social House...Joining us will be our friends at Greater Greater Washington..."

That's some epic trolling there, Dan. LOL

Robert Dyer said...

5:58: I've been publishing since 2006, and have never celebrated myself. I would expect to see a lot of developers and MoCo cartel members in the crowd August 15.

Anonymous said...

Dyer @ 6:37 PM - That's cuz you don't have any readers to celebrate with.

Robert Dyer said...

6:43: A lot of those readers are laughing at you right now, old sport.

Ed Kelty said...

I have always liked the relatively modest angled glass showroom on Arlington Blvd. Wish that the higher new structures could be behind it. The proposed drawing looks like the pretentious show rooms above Rockville on Rockville Pike.

Cav_Grad said...

Dan Reed puts a party on...for himself. Saddest thing I've heard in awhile.

I kind of feel sorry for him. Are gifts required?

Anonymous said...

That doesn't make any sense, 7:51

Anonymous said...

I think they are extending the parking deck to park on the roof of some or all of the new addition. At least that is an urban solution to a car dealership inventory and customer service vehicle storage problem. So many suburban dealerships have vast fenced lots in the back.

I sure hope the customer parking lot on Bethesda does not morph into a line of black AMG Mercedes SUVs with their hoods open and big S A L E signs propped up over the engine, some big plastic banners, a bunch of balloons and some guy in a plaid sport coat stopping pedestrians to ask if they want a great deal on a lightly used $100,000 Geldwagen.

In my opinion, car dealerships belong in a suburban auto mall, and not embedded in a highly walkable urban downtown. Sometimes downtowns grow to include less savory uses like car dealerships, but at some point one would hope that higher property values would encourage folks like the Honda, Acura, Audi and Mercedes dealers to seek cheaper dirt. At least the Oursman VW and Volvo Dealerships are embedded in mixed use projects, with remote service centers.

I visited a Mini Dealership in Vancouver that was almost entirely underground. Only a sign, a nice glass lobby with a stair and elevator and two vehicle elevators were visible at grade in a mixed use building. Two levels of Mini Dealership, service and inventory storage below grade. Thats what I consider an urban car dealership, (selling very popular compact urban friendly cars). Kind of like the underground Ace Hardware in Tenley.

Anonymous said...

"A large open parking lot would destroy any streetscape. We already have the gap at the Oursman Honda Dealership to the east. "

Exactly. And the blank wall of the Giant across the street doesn't help much either.

"At least the Oursman VW and Volvo Dealerships are embedded in mixed use projects, with remote service centers."

The Chevy Chase Acura dealer isn't bad either (the main location, not the pre-owned one at the corner of Middleton and Wisconsin).

Anonymous said...

I think having a party with everyone to celebrate is great! My company does this, as do others. Y'all get envious of holiday parties too?

Don't really know who Dan Reed is, but obviously someone here is obsessed w/him.

Anonymous said...

Old sport, know any 50-something year old men living with their mothers?

Robert Dyer said...

7:03: Yeah - you!

Anonymous said...

Best comeback ever!!! Congratulations!! COTD!!

Anonymous said...

But seriously, enough with the lives at home with his mother jokes. Obviously the man is an adult from his photo and does not live at home with his mother. Give it a rest.

Anonymous said...

Did you get that downtown Bethesda apartment?