Monday, February 11, 2019

Demolition begins for Avocet Tower (Video + Photos)

Demolition has begun at the site of the future Avocet Tower at 7373 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda. It includes the former 2nd District Montgomery County police station. Developer StonebridgeCarras plans a 250' Class A office tower for the site. They are one of several developers making bold bets on new trophy office space, despite Montgomery County's moribund economy. None of the new Class A buildings have so far attracted Fortune 500 or major corporate headquarters that weren't already here.



40 comments:

Anonymous said...

BB reported this 10 days ago.

Robert Dyer said...

Not quite - the demolition has just begun, and here are the photos and video.

Anonymous said...

Why in the world do you block comments from the majority of your blog posts? Doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of the comment feature?

Anonymous said...

Prediction: You’re not going to get an answer.

Anonymous said...

Maybe - just maybe - all those developers spending hundreds of millions of dollars each building Class A office space in MoCo know more than you do, Robert. Much of the space under construction is already pre-lease, to boot.

Robert Dyer said...

6:08: The question is, under pre-lease to whom? The tenants coming in at other MoCo projects have been underwhelming compared to Northern Virginia. We haven't gotten a single major corporate HQ in two decades.

Anonymous said...

Please stop with the moribund comments. You report that a new several hundred million dollar project is breaking ground, intended to house the exact component (corporate office spaces) that you say is desperately needed in MoCo, and yet you always put a negative spin on your posts. You sir are a broken record.

I bet that if Apple decided to open a HQ2 in Bethesda, you would still find something to bitch about. Closed sidewalks, nails in the street, or not enough Microsoft employees having lunch because of Apple.

Do you not realize how silly you sound with all the negative comments during an incredible construction boom in downtown Bethesda?

Anonymous said...

6:49 AM MoCo lost Amazon in November 2018 as well.

Anonymous said...

I noted that during your video with the snappy music, that the sky is not actually falling...

Anonymous said...

6:50 AM Yup, lots of residential construction mainly.
Apparently not enough office since Amazon gave us a hard pass.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that people who work in Virginia are so eager to live in Montgomery County?

Anonymous said...

6:56 AM Any statistics to back that claim? MoCo used to be known to be well run with excellent services, but that was the past. Politically NoVA is as liberal as MoCo. No one is touting MoCo schools at this point.

I hope you're not perpetuating the fantasy that people working for Amazon in Arlington will want to live in Montgomery County as their first choice. Makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

Well, if the American Legion Bridge is crowded with commuters heading from MoCo to NoVa in the morning, and heading from NoVa to MoCo in the evening, that means that there are many more people working in NoVa, who live in MoCo.

Anonymous said...

7:12 AM The other side, MoCo to NoVa is just as crowded in the PM commute.

We need another river crossing.

Anonymous said...

7:06AM

The 14 sto Metro ride from Bethesda to Pentagon City (the location of the bulk of the new HQ2 development) takes only 32 minutes. Of course you have to transfer at Gallery Place, so it might add a few minutes at rush hour, so let’s say 36 minutes on average.

36 minutes is actually a very reasonable commute in the DMV, especially if you don’t have to drive and park, or even own a car if you choose. Assuming you live close to one of the two Metro entrances in Bethesda, a 40 minute or so, door to door commute would be an attractive idea for many folks. This would be especially true for those who might have a significant other who works at one of the larger employers in or near Bethesda including Marriott, Host Hotels, JBG Smith, Clark, Suburban Hospital, NIH or the Naval Hospital.

Obliviously living in NoVa would be an easier commute, but I think the Bethesda area might be attractive for quite a few Amazonian’s.

Anonymous said...

"The tenants coming in at other MoCo projects have been underwhelming compared to Northern Virginia. We haven't gotten a single major corporate HQ in two decades."

Why do you care so much about Fortune 500s? All of the tenants that have pre-leased in Bethesda are clearly willing to pay very high Bethesda rents and high worker salaries. One of the new tenants is relocating from Northern Virginia, which just lost a Fortune 500 who hadn't even moved there yet - Arconis. Hilton is a Fortune 500, but has less than 1,000 workers at its headquarters.

Anonymous said...

"Politically NoVA is as liberal as MoCo"

Not really

Anonymous said...

8:11 AM I'm sorry- Unless you have extenuating circumstances (i.e. spouse works in MoCo), there's no reason anyone would choose to live in MoCo and work in NoVa.

Anonymous said...

9:17 AM

That was my point. Many folks have spouses that might already work in MoCo, so a central location might make sense. I bet it is more than you think. Also, many new recruits for jobs at Amazon will be MoCo residents who own homes or condos, might not want to move to NoVa. Of course if you live very far from a Metro station, you need to add that time to walk or drive and park at a WMATA lot. But the 1500 new apartments at The Elm, EYA Towers near the Farm Women's Market, Metro Tower and 4 Metro Center are under a minute walk to either the new south or existing Metro entrance.

I personally would much rather relax on a simple Metro commute, and own a car I only drive on weekends, than commute by driving from almost anywhere in the DMV.

The fact that Metro exists as an option for a much wider commute-she, without driving, is likely one of the prime reasons that Amazon selected such central location.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but there's plenty of housing on the Orange Line corridor. And cranes are part of the Arlington skyline now as well.

Anonymous said...

Hey Robbie, 6:53 AM, 6:54 AM, 7:06 AM, Put your damned BLACK FACE back on and take your sorry assed MoCo hating WS back ot Ole Virginny where your homies live in the past. WE DONT WANT YOU!

Anonymous said...

10:45 AM VA's Governor is a good Democrat.

Anonymous said...

10:45AM Great conversation- thanks for commenting

Anonymous said...

AVOCADO TOWER?!?!?!??!?!?!??!

Roald said...

Love these reports! Dyer is chronicling the history of our rapidly changing city- in real time.

Baloney Concrete said...

Bethesda is more than twice as far from Capitol Hill compared to Crystal City. White Flint is over three times as far. That’s the reason Amazon chose NoVA. It’s got nothing to do with any moribundity.

Anonymous said...

2:42pm White Flint isn't an ideal location. Too far out of the city and not served easily by highways. As far away from the airports as you can be.

Marriott knows White Flint well and they pointedly said no thanks.

Should have pitched silver spring or Bethesda.

Anonymous said...

@ 3:19 - In the cases of both White Flint and Crystal City, there were large amounts of vacant land or vacant offices, waiting for an opportunity like AMZHQ2. There were no such areas in Bethesda or Silver Spring. Montgomery County's proposal was already finalized by the time Discovery Channel announced their move to New York City.

Cy said...

Fairfax just lost Arconic. Jeff Bezos mid-life crisis is affecting the HQ2 with Amazon pulling out of NYC and Crystal City on the cutting block as Virginia government falls apart. It is game over for the image that the Fairfax EDA has perpetrated in social media of a rising star. Just empty office parks of data centers and self storage units. High rises on top of parking garages and drab skywalk-connected Tysons will be the ultimate failure in urban planning in a few years. Game over.

Anonymous said...

Projects like The Boro in Tysons are hardly "drab".

Bethesda could become quite drab with just high-rises going up and no new open space, arts or entertainment.

Robert Dyer said...

2:42: Sure, there's a valid argument that MoCo should have pushed the ring urban centers of Bethesda and Silver Spring, but that was hardly the only reason Amazon chose Virginia. They're saving a fortune in taxes alone. The cost of living for employees is much lower, and the schools are not only as good, but now may be even better than MCPS. There are great neighborhoods for all levels and ages of employees, from McLean to Clarendon. Nightlife is far superior for the youngest.

Transportation is far superior, as well as direct access to airports and highways. I've flown out of all three airports, and the travel time from Bethesda is just horrific to all 3. If we had the Potomac crossing access from both Montrose Road (Rockville Freeway) and I-370 (Outer Beltway) as originally planned, we would have been able to offer not only direct Dulles access, but also less traffic congestion. Think about it - straight shot from White Flint to Dulles via Montrose Parkway/Rockville Freeway, or from Comsat or IBM property via I-370, over new Potomac River bridge. Alas, our inept Council opposes highways and failed to lay the groundwork for this and other potential victories.

It also appears that Virginia did a far superior job of leveraging their universities for workforce development.

7:12: Fairfax's only real problem is that their Board of Supervisors has swung too far left and is becoming like our Council. They've had much more revenue to work with because they have the jobs coming in, as well as the residential housing. Housing alone gives you a budget deficit, as we've seen here in the County.

If we had the right leadership and changed direction, we would be in a great position to turn the tables on Fairfax, as their one-party rule and leftist bent mean that hefty social services bills are starting to come due. With Pat Herrity on the way out, and the Post and FFXCo Cartel collaborating to install Democratic replacements for those departing in this year's elections, Fairfax's seat on the regional throne is indeed in danger.

Having said that, Loudoun is more of a threat to them than we are. In fact, Virginia's biggest threat may be all the people fleeing MoCo for their lower-tax shores. They make the same dumb and uninformed decisions on Election Day as they did when they lived here.

5:38: We could have easily assembled properties in Bethesda or Silver Spring. Amazon already has shifted their plans from what the original request was. They're looking at the overall package. Last time I checked, our "genius" Planning Board and Council were allowing multiple Bethesda and Silver Spring office buildings to be redeveloped as housing. Real dumb. What about Wheaton? It's on Metro, with loads of properties under a few landlords, with no immediate plans for redeveloping them.

We have too many "leaders" who only hear from the press, their staff and their monopoly political party how good and smart they are. That's a recipe for exactly the fiscal and economic development disaster we find ourselves in.

Baloney Concrete said...

4:13 — thank you for the reminder about the airport. That’s another reason they chose Crystal City — they’ll be able to *walk* to DCA. We could build 10 more Potomac crossings and you still couldn’t do that from Bethesda.

It all came down to he geography, geography, geography. The other things you mention are merely perks if they are true at all. (I’m not convinced the cost of living is appreciably lower in Virginia, nor that their schools are appreciably better.)

Anonymous said...

"the Post and FFXCo Cartel collaborating"

{eyeroll}

Robert Dyer said...

5:00: They didn't have to be next to the airport - they just needed direct access, which we couldn't deliver without a new bridge. As far as the other points I noted, look at any corporate relocation publication to confirm the importance of those to companies and their employees.

Virginia is indeed lower cost of living than MoCo. That's why rich are streaming to the exits here.

Anonymous said...

"Virginia is indeed lower cost of living than MoCo. That's why rich are streaming to the exits here."

LOL

Also, Crystal City doesn't have "direct access" to either of the region's international airports.

Anonymous said...

I find that taking the Metro from Bethesda to DCA to be the simplest way to access an airport from our fair city. No need for expensive parking or fighting traffic. Total travel time from my apartment door to boarding gate is reliably under one hour. I wish the flights out of DCA were a bit cheaper, but taking the subway to the airport is extremely painless.

The Silver Line Phase Two to Dulles will open up some cheaper flights, also fully accessible by Metro.

Metro to Union Station, then METRA to BWI works as well, but a longer ride.

Please name me any other region that offers subway or commuter rail to THREE international airports.

One negative that I see with the National Landing location for HQ2 is the constant noise of all the air traffic. Yes, it’s very convenient for access, but in my opinion, it makes a rather lousy place to live. Hey let’s go hang out on our apartment or condo roof terrace to watch all the planes! I love the smell of jet fuel in the morning! That’s one reason I think many Amazonian’s might choose to live a bit further out.

Robert Dyer said...

6:04: It's a quick trip to Dulles compared to MoCo.

Anonymous said...

"It's a quick trip to Dulles compared to MoCo."

Wait, are we comparing Crystal City to White Flint? Or all of Montgomery County? There are parts of Fairfax County that are much more remote from Dulles Airport than any part of Montgomery County.

Paul the Best CPA in Bethesda said...

Robert,
I think you are doing a great job!

Paul

Robert Dyer said...

4:56: Thank you, Paul! I appreciate your support and readership.