Tuesday, March 06, 2018
Washington Property Company unveils plan for La Madeleine site in Bethesda (Photos)
One of the owners' daughters was at the meeting; the owners are in their 90s, and decided to sell to WPC. Attorney Bob Dalrymple represented WPC, and had to address the biggest issue in the room - residents' disappointment over the pending demise of La Madeleine.
"We don't want to lose it," one attendee said. Residents compared the loss of La Madeleine to the recent shuttering of Barnes & Noble, as the loss of a community gathering space, citing its atmosphere of "community and warmth." Some expressed a desire to have the French cafe return in the ground floor of the new building. Dalrymple cautioned them not to get their hopes up, noting that such an outcome would require mutual interest by the restaurant and WPC.
An employee of La Madeleine in attendance said high rent was the reason the Pike & Rose outpost of the chain closed. Rents aren't likely to be cheap in a new building in 20814 - that's just the reality of a jurisdiction that places massive taxes and costs on property owners.
What the new building will have, is 200 residential units and a modest 2500-2700 SF of ground floor retail. Dalrymple said the developer would like curb cut access from Old Georgetown and Commerce Lane, but that the Maryland State Highway Administration may restrict access to Commerce.
There were essentially no architectural or design details presented last night, but some massing diagrams were displayed. The building could be up to 225' tall.
Dalrymple said WPC plans to submit its Sketch plan to the County this month, with a Development Review Committee scheduled for April. A public hearing would likely be held by the Planning Board in June. If approved, the Preliminary and Site plans would be submitted in September, with a hearing on those held by the board in January 2019. Groundbreaking would begin as soon as just six months later, with an estimated delivery of the building in June 2021.