2017 | News

JBG Spokeswoman: Developer Moving Forward With 17-Story Project in Downtown Bethesda

Wisconsin Avenue project doesn't yet have set timeline, she says

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A rendering of the planned 7900 Wisconsin Avenue.

JBG Cos.

Developer JBG Cos. will dust off plans to build a 17-story residential complex on Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda, a company spokeswoman said.

The major mixed-use project was shelved in 2015, but it seems to be gaining steam again in light of this week’s announcement that Fitness First at 7900 Wisconsin Ave. will close its doors at the end of the month. As part of JBG’s plan, the gym’s building is slated for redevelopment into a 475-unit apartment complex with ground-floor retail.

JBG in January requested a demolition permit for the structure, and the county is working to process the application, an online database shows.

However, a spokeswoman for JBG said the company doesn’t yet have a construction start date or project timeline.

“We’re going to go forward, but we have not cemented our plans,” spokeswoman Julie Chase said Tuesday.

Chase was also unable to announce any potential tenants for the finished building, although company representatives have previously disclosed they were courting a grocery store such as Trader Joe’s to anchor the site.

The Montgomery County Planning Board granted JBG preliminary approval in 2013 to build apartments and 21,600 square feet of first-floor retail space. A couple years later, JBG spokesman Matthew Blocher said the developer was putting the project on a “temporary hold.”

Fitness First had planned to stay at the location until its lease expired in 2019. But the Fitness First’s president told members this week that JBG asked the gym to leave the site sooner.

“We received formal notification from JBG, that they intend on terminating our lease to commence their redevelopment efforts,” gym president Peter Harvey wrote.

Photos and diagrams via the developer's application to the Montgomery County Planning Department.