A conceptual drawing of the proposed office tower in North Bethesda. Credit: VIA GUARDIAN REALTY

Montgomery County planning officials on Thursday gave a preliminary nod to a project that could add an office tower and housing high-rises to a prominent North Bethesda property, part of the gateway to the White Flint district.

The site at 6000 Executive Blvd. could be the first redevelopment inside the 460-acre region covered by the White Flint 2 Sector Plan, a long-range growth document adopted by the county in December. A seven-story office building already sites on the property, and Guardian Realty LLC wants to add an office tower and two active adult housing complexes.

The three-phase project will include up to 927,420 square feet of total development and 364 homes for adults ages 62 and older, according to the project plan. An attorney for the developer said the site’s position just across from shopping and dining in the Pike & Rose neighborhood makes it a great spot for housing for active older adults.

Phasing plan for the project at 6000 Executive Blvd. Credit: Guardian.

The “iconic” office and retail tower at the corner of Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard would be the tallest building at about 200 feet in height, while one of the residential buildings—with about 233 homes—would be about 150 feet tall. At about 70 feet in height, a 131-unit structure would be the smallest of the new buildings because of its proximity to a neighborhood of single-family homes.

Guardian’s plans would provide 100,000 square feet of open space, including a bike path along the southern edge of the property that would form the first piece of a trail envisioned by the sector plan. A pocket green or plaza is proposed for a space along the larger residential building, and a half-acre neighborhood green would stand next to Old Georgetown Road.

The developer proposes some underground and some above-ground parking and internal streets that will run around the existing office building at the center of the site and out onto Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard.

The site is too small to be suitable as a location for a new elementary, middle or high school, according to a staff report, but the developer will contribute funds to the county for a school or park inside the White Flint 2 area.

Michele Rosenfeld, an attorney representing homeowners who live just south of the proposed project, told the board her clients, Andrew and Cheryl New, believe the proposed 50-foot setback from their property is insufficient and want the 100-foot buffer that is in place elsewhere on the site. 

“Everybody else along Neilwood Drive has a 100-foot setback,” she said. “Placing the façade of this building within 50 feet of the News’ property line with an exposed garage is not compatible. It’s inappropriate.”

Francoise Carrier, a land use attorney for the developer, said the Montgomery County Planning Board and County Council had debated the appropriate setback for the property when crafting the White Flint 2 plan.

“In the end, the planning board decided and the council agreed that a 50-foot buffer was appropriate in the context of this urbanizing intersection,” she said. “Without more than a 50-foot buffer, we couldn’t fit that building. There would be no building at that end of the property.”

The planning board approved the sketch plan for the project. The developer will have to present more detailed plans for review and approval before moving forward with construction.

Open space plan along with example images used for inspiration. Credit: Guardian.

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