The two 160-foot-tall apartment towers proposed for Pooks Hill in Bethesda would be built one at a time, include a large green plaza and add 200 extra vehicles each weekday to an already cramped Rockville Pike intersection.

The newest details on the project, which was first unveiled at a contentious community meeting last December, also include images of how the buildings might look.


Credit: Montgomery County Planning Department

The Washington, D.C.-based Quadrangle Development Corp. is leading the partnership behind the project, which would put the two apartment buildings on excess and unused parking lots at the Bethesda Marriott site on Pooks Hill Road.

New to the proposal is a bid to include a 35,000-square-foot addition to the neighboring Bethesda Marriott hotel. Planning Department staff recommended against granting approval of the addition now because the applicant failed to provide enough information on how it would look.

The developer’s sketch plan for the project will go before the Montgomery County Planning Board July 30.

While a traffic study isn’t required until the next step of the approval process, Planning Department staff said it appears the project would generate 200 new morning rush hour vehicle trips and 233 new evening rush hour vehicle trips.

Credit: Montgomery County Planning Department

Planners also said that despite the site being 1.4 miles from the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station, it’s “unlikely that future residents will walk directly to the Metrorail station.”

Those who choose to walk the most direct route to the station would have to navigate a section of Rockville Pike with no sidewalks that passes over the busy Capital Beltway. A safer pedestrian route via the Bethesda Trolley Trail and Grosvenor Lane would actually be 2.2 miles.

Planners still approved the sketch plan portion of the project, though it’s possible the traffic ramifications of the proposal will face more scrutiny later.

Residents who live around the site complained the apartments would bring too much traffic to an already enclosed area.

Because of cut-through restrictions during rush hour in the adjoining neighborhood of single-family homes, many current Pooks Hill condo, apartment and town home dwellers can only use the intersection of Pooks Hill Road and Rockville Pike to leave the area.

Other details covered in the sketch plan include a central garden area that would be built between the two buildings with a waterfall-like feature and landscaped retaining walls.

The central plaza and south building would be built in phase one, followed by the north building. Both buildings would be served by a yet-to-be-specified number of underground parking spots and some visitor spaces.