Wednesday, October 09, 2019

New open-air fitness studio now testing for 2020 launch in Bethesda

More and more green space and open sky disappear by the day under the Montgomery County Council and Planning Board's urbanization vision of a sea of concrete, glass and steel. Should fresh air and the natural sunlight source of Vitamin D be a part of your fitness regimen in an urban area? sōheira, a new open-air fitness concept, believes they should.

The new business has leased rooftop space at the Peripoint Building at 7800 Old Georgetown Road. They are hosting drop-in classes over the winter, in preparation for an official studio launch in 2020. A limited number of beta test classes will be offered this month, and spaces are limited. See the sōheira website for details on how to register, and for more information about the use of the rooftop space and courses.


Anonymous said...

I strongly disagree with your assumption that open and green space is being reduced in downtown Bethesda.

Many new dedicated public parks and privately owned public spaces are being created around many of the new buildings made possible by the new Sector Plan. Massive new park space might soon surround the Bethesda Market on Parking Lots 10 and 24, expanding the adjacent Elm Street Park. A smaller dedicated Capital Crescent Civic Green is being planned with lawn panels, shade trees, seating areas, sculpture and a water feature. Expanded open space and plazas, with a central fountain, will double the open space at the Metro Tower caper. Huge new pedestrian spaces are under construction at the Avocet Tower, The Wilson and Elm and at 7900 Wisconsin. New public open space will soon front the Edgemont, replacing a surface parking lot. Almost all new construction is required to include at least 35% vegetated green roofs. Not accessible to the public, but very good for the environment. Large portions of the city will soon have dedicated separated bike lanes, which will greatly reduce the amount of the city devoted to parking and drive lanes.

Downtown Bethesda is getting far greener and will soon have more accessible open space than ever before.

Robert Dyer said...

7:40: Is this Casey Anderson? LOL

There certainly are no "massive" parks coming online in this plan. That was one of the biggest flaws of the plan. The one at the Farm Market is highly exaggerated. Most new public spaces will be concrete with twig street trees. There are indeed quite a few postage stamp public spaces and green boxes in the works, but none will be confused with actual green, grassy, tree-filled parks.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the new plans recently submitted for the Bethesda Market project? They include reduced building footprints and a very large open lawn area on Lot 25, surrounded by lots of new perimeter shade trees. Lots of room to toss a Frisbee, or fly a kite. The area area around the FWM is now mostly proposed to be paved, based on recommendations by the Historic review folks, to match the historic character. The building and one story addition will be surrounded by flexible seating, dining and canopied sales areas. Direct access to the parking via dedicated elevators and open stairs. Lot 10 will now be 100% green with two large dog parks, a play structure area and perimeter trees. What was formerly a pair of nasty 300 car parking lots, will soon be mostly green spaces with passive and active uses, with 300 underground parking spaces below.

Of course an urban setting like downtown Bethesda does not have room to insert really large scale green lawns, but compared to most urban places, Bethesda has, and will soon have, many more green spaces open to the public. If you you want a big lawn, I guess there is this place nearby called the National Mall. If you want a truly natural setting, another option will be to ride your bike on the CCT to nearby Rock Creek Park, which is way bigger than Central Park in New York. The park will be fully ADA accessible from the CCT via ramps. Even closer, take a walk to Norwood Local Park, only a few blocks from downtown, with massive open spaces, ball fields and shady paths.

Proposed plans for the Brookfield 4 Metro Center project appear to offer some very nice programmed spaces, sculpture, seating areas, central lawn space and massively improved heavy rail and bus transit functionality around a landmark tower design. A large glass canopy above two new escalator and a stair between the bus bays and plaza is proposed. The two new Red Line entrance plazas, and the new Purple Line plaza will create world class open plazas. When folks arrive by Metro, light rail, buses, bike or simply by walking along the CCT, they will experience incredible and iconic gateways, landscaped plazas, fountains, monumental artwork and open spaces, all lined with retail and shops as they enter downtown.

Yes, of course the new buildings and massing do impact the visibility of the open sky, and shadows, but based on recent summers, I think a bit of shade is a good thing to have in this climate.

Anonymous said...

I hate how moribund Bethesda is. There are so many buildings going up I haven't seen the sky in years.

Anonymous said...

10:32am Ballston was full of high-rises, but was wasn't a destination.

It has some nice options now with Ballston Quarter, but that's new.

Anonymous said...

"There are indeed quite a few postage stamp public spaces and green boxes in the works, but none will be confused with actual green, grassy, tree-filled park"

The new Bethesda Market park is a postage stamp green box? Yeah, its not Central Park or Rock Creek park, but come on.

Anonymous said...

Will they be serving overpriced soup?

Anonymous said...

Apparently Robert has not seen the revised plans, with much larger parks and smaller building footprint on Lot 25. No buildings at all on Lot 10.

Robert Dyer said...

2:08/5:49: Take out the existing parks they deceptively show as part of it, and yes, a postage stamp. Remember when the County Council and Planning Board showed the whole parking lot behind that block as a green park? Ain't gonna happen, just as I predicted.

Anonymous said...

The concept of using both parking lots entirely as parks, with expensive underground parking, was never going to happen. Just because a planner takes out a Sharpie and declares an idea doesn’t make it happen.

These two parks taken together are larger than the existing Elm Street Park, so in effect, the parkland is roughly doubled. This doesn’t’ even take in to account the numerous improvements around the market, including outdoor seating and dining, areas for temporary canopies, and a paved woonerf between the market and the large amount of retail in the base of the new mixed use tower. This plan also includes the full restoration of the historic building, and a modest expansion in the back to expand its functionality.

You simply can’t admit that this is a great project, and somehow must always look for the dark side of any issue. This project could create a world class food hall in Bethesda, ideally located at the intersection of heavy rail, light rail, possible bus rapid transit and the most heavily used hiker-biker trail in the United States. This could be a real landmark in town, and potentially a massively popular destination. It could be as dramatic to the city as the changes that occurred with the implementation the Bethesda Row project, one of the most admired urban planning projects in the country. This project could extend the walkable streetscape vitality of Bethesda Row from Arlington Road to 46th Street.

As an aside, did anyone else hear the huge cheer from the crowd at the World of Beer around midnight when the Nats won the game last night? I guess we do have a nightlife in downtown Bethesda, at least for a big game. I plan to visit Matchbox for the next series of games.

Suze said...

@6:41 - Thanks for sharing more details about the current state of the plan for that development. I think its a great project, and the park space can hopefully act as a bit of a civic green for Bethesda, with more planned events to take advantage of the green space.

I couldn't stay awake for the end of the game, but man what an ending!

Robert Dyer said...

6:41: LOL - one cheer in a playoff game doesn't negate the near-total death of Bethesda nightlife.

It was much more than a "Sharpie" - both the County Council and Planning Board are on record declaring they were delivering those parks on the border with Chevy Chase, and took victory laps on that.

Some were fooled. I was not. And once again, I was vindicated.

The parkland is most-definitely not being "doubled." I realize the developer is banking on people being fooled once again by visual tricks on deceptive maps. You sound like you have a financial interest in the project.

The green space is not contiguous to the Purple Line station, or any other heavy foot traffic, and is far less than was promised by elected officials. There's no positive way to spin this.

Anonymous said...

You sir are not looking at the plans correctly. 100% of lot 10 is now proposed to be green space. And about 80% of Lot 25 is now proposed to be green space with a huge open lawn. Together they total way more than the existing Elm Street Park, so yes, one could say the park is more than doubling. This doesn’t even include the plaza around the FWM and the large woonerf. These are both considered privately owned public spaces, so they add to area of the two new large parks, but as paved areas.

I guess you are not very good at reading plans.i even posted a link so you can see a detailed graphic showing all of these areas.