Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Planners recommend approval of Douglas Development 8008 Wisconsin project (Photos)

The Montgomery County Planning Department and Maryland State Highway Administration have largely accepted the proposed changes in the site plan for 8008 Wisconsin Avenue, a mixed-use project being developed by Douglas Development. Those changes were driven by the size of the project site in relation to right-of-way and public spaces demands, including a potential Bus Rapid Transit station on Wisconsin Avenue, and a bike lane on Woodmont Avenue.

This means that, for example, the building will be permitted to extend 10' over the sidewalk above the ground floor, the underground garage may extend east underneath a portion of the SHA right-of-way along Wisconsin, and public space will be greatly reduced below the required amount at the site.

Planners are recommending approval with conditions. The Planning Board will take the plan up at its June 18 meeting. 8008 Wisconsin Avenue will be a 14-story, primarily residential building, with up to 140 apartments.

Due to the requirements for the BRT station and right-of-way, the project cannot provide the 3828 SF of public space required under the current County rules. Therefore, planners have suggested a combination solution - a public space transfer to another downtown property, and a $717,120 fee to the County, which will be applied to a future update of Battery Lane Urban Park.
Public space and
(Click to enlarge)
There will be a public plaza space on the Woodmont Avenue side of the building, however, featuring pavers, landscaping and benches. The public space that fronts onto Wisconsin Avenue will be primarily utilized to facilitate movement of pedestrians and BRT riders around the future station at Wisconsin and Cordell Avenue. Planners appear to be very optimistic that these public spaces, along with the varying design materials of the building facades, will enliven the Woodmont Triangle. Having said that, only 3% of the total SF is dedicated to non-residential use.

In addition, the applicant has proposed creating 4784 SF of public space on one or more other properties downtown. These spaces could be dedicated to the arts, such as a dance studio, art gallery, an arts incubator space, or a black box theater.

The project is receiving a 22% density bonus for providing 15% MPDUs, higher than the 12.5% County requirement for affordable units. There will also be a density transfer from other properties, commercial sites that - theoretically - will remain (relatively) affordable for small business tenants in the future. These sites include the distinctive Peripoint Building, which would now be preserved at 5001 Wilson Lane.
Properties giving their future
density redevelopment rights
to 8008 Wisconsin
(click to enlarge)

Map showing properties
transferring density
to 8008 Wisconsin
(Click to enlarge)

The staff report notes that the Planning Department has received no citizen correspondence in relation to this application. It does not address the fact that the massive right-of-way that this applicant is being asked to provide cannot be extended all the way down Wisconsin Avenue. There are buildings in the way, including a historic theater that cannot be moved under any scenario.


Anonymous said...

Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

What do those who provide the extra density to the development receive in return? Does Douglas pay them for it?

Robert Dyer said...

8:41: I don't recall the specifics being in the report, but they do get compensated, as they are reducing the value of their property in giving up redevelopment potential.

Anonymous said...

Compensation or the developer also owns the other parcel(s).

Anonymous said...

It's pretty much a sale at market rate. The new master plan is theoretically going to up that rate. That's the idea at least.

Anonymous said...

How in the world does the county think the entire length of Wisconsin will have redevelopment on every plot such that they'll get their full length BRT ROW? Inconceivable! :)

Anonymous said...

With the county planning board, as with Jesus, all things are possible.

Anonymous said...

Possible, yes. Probable, unlikely.