Drawing of proposed apartment complex at the 7-Eleven and EagleBank properties Credit: Via Barbara Sears

Drawing of proposed apartment complex at the 7-Eleven and EagleBank properties (click to expand). Via Barbara Sears.

The development team behind plans to build a residential high-rise in place of the 7-Eleven and EagleBank properties in downtown Bethesda has released an image of the proposed tower.

The project planned for 7820 Wisconsin Ave. and 7815 Woodmont Ave., addresses just south of Fairmont Avenue, could give rise to one of Bethesda’s tallest buildings. Land-use attorney Barbara Sears, who is working with the developer, said the structure could be about 314 feet tall and would occupy more than 380,000 square feet.

The project applicants, Bethesda Land LLC and Bethmont LLC, presented some information about the redevelopment earlier this week at an evening meeting.

Bethesda resident Jason Yang said he wasn’t thrilled that the project as proposed would only cover a portion of the block.

“You have these blocks with developments that are just hodgepodge put together,” he said. “It just kills the block. Small retail frontage. Garage door. Loading dock. Small retail frontage. Garage door. Loading dock. The street frontage is just disconnected.”

The owner of Union Hardware, David Goldberg, whose property shares a block with the 7-Eleven, has tried to negotiate with his neighbors to redevelop their land together. Goldberg declined to comment on the building proposal for the 7-Eleven and EagleBank building site.

However, community advocate Amanda Farber also said she thinks the development design needs work, especially because of the impact such a tall building could have on the area.

“Good design and open space will be important so we don’t end up with a Wisconsin ‘wall,’ a Cheltenham ‘canyon,’ or a Veterans Park ‘valley,’” she wrote in an email.

Sears noted that the developer in this case can’t control the decisions of neighboring property owners. She also said that the building project will benefit downtown Bethesda by bringing much-needed affordable housing to the area.

Sears has said the proposed apartment complex would include roughly 300 units with about 8,000 square feet of first-floor retail. The proposed high rise is able to exceed 300 feet because it would devote at least a quarter of the units to affordable housing, she said.

Including such a high percentage of moderately-priced dwelling units also exempts the developer from having to pay the county a park impact fee, she said. In other cases, downtown Bethesda developers must pay the parks fee in order to add square footage to their project site.

She said the development team aims to file the sketch plan application by the end of the year.

The Maryland Department of Assessments Taxation website lists the representative of Bethmont LLC as Olga Russell of Leonardtown and the representative of Bethesda Land LLC as prominent developer Aris Mardirossian of Potomac.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.