A proposal for a new development in North Bethesda includes the construction of two buildings, completed in two phases. Credit: via Montgomery County Planning Department documents

A new development proposal in North Bethesda includes 500 apartments and a half-acre of open space, aiming to “transform” the “suburban-styled area” into “a more urbanized, walkable community,” according to project plans.

This week, Federal Realty Investment Trust submitted a development application to the Montgomery County Planning Department to redevelop the property — now home to a mostly vacant retail building and a surface parking lot — on East Jefferson Street with two seven-story mixed-use buildings.

About 583,016 square feet would be dedicated to residences (up to 500 units), according to Planning Department documents, and approximately 103,965 square feet of existing retail space would be retained. The project would include 702 parking spaces, mostly in structured garages, documents say.

Another key component of the project is a half-acre neighborhood park, which will include seating and gathering options and open space, documents say.

The project will be conducted in two phases to honor an existing Panera Bread lease on the property, Planning Board documents say. The documents do not say how long the lease lasts.

The first phase would include up to 300 units and a private courtyard. The first phase would also include the new park.

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The second phase would include up to 200 units and provide 5,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. The second phase would also include a “road diet” on East Jefferson Street to “promote bike and pedestrian movements,” project plans say. The changes would include reducing the speed limit and reconfiguring the roadway, including adding bike lanes and separated turn lanes.

About 15% of the units would be designated as affordable housing.

A date for Planning Board consideration has not been set, according to online records.

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Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com