Townhomes Planned for Area Behind Cabin John Shopping Center in Potomac

Developer works to revitalize aging strip mall

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View of the Cabin John Shopping Center

VIA MONTGOMERY COUNTY PLANNING BOARD

The developer working to reinvent the Cabin John Shopping Center in Potomac is shifting the project to its next stage with a proposal for a townhome community behind the Giant grocery store.

Plans to give the 1960s-era strip mall a facelift are already underway, as construction progresses on two standalone retail buildings near the intersection of Seven Locks Road and Tuckerman Lane. A hotly anticipated burger joint, Shake Shack, will share the new space with the restaurants Cava, Sisters Thai and Le Pain Quotidien, with a tentative opening date slated for late summer or early fall, according to Katie Bucklew, vice president of development for EDENS.

Next, EDENS will partner with residential developer EYA to build 48 townhomes on the parking lot behind the shopping center’s Giant and the Lahinch Tavern and Grill. EDENS chose EYA because of its track record for “consistently delivering high-quality residences designed to integrate with the community and surrounding neighborhoods,” Bucklew said in a written response to questions from Bethesda Beat.

She said EYA and EDENS are starting the process of applying for preliminary plan approval from county planners. Bucklew said no images of the proposed EYA townhomes are yet available.

Meanwhile, EDENS is moving forward on designing the façade renovation for the shopping center itself, Bucklew said.

Dan Dubie, partner at Broadway Pizza in the shopping center, expressed optimism Thursday about the revitalization efforts.

“I think it’s a great thing,” he said. “The center’s been there 40 to 45 years and has not had any changes whatsoever. … Once they start doing remodeling and improvements, it’s going to draw people over here.”

He said EDENS is meeting with shopping center merchants Wednesday to share more project information.

Not everyone is pleased with the proposed changes. Jerry Garson, who lives about a mile away from the retail center, said he’s worried that businesses will lose space for parking to the townhome development.

“If you have restaurants, they need parking spaces, and if you put 48 townhouses behind there, you’re going to get rid of all the parking these restaurants need,” he said.

Dubie and Garson said EDENS representatives have mentioned they’re thinking of putting structured parking on the property.

Bucklew said EDENS is committed to addressing parking needs at the site.

“Parking is always an extremely important element for the success of any retail shopping center. Part of the redevelopment process will address the circulation within the project, creating viable parking throughout the center,” she said.

Still, Garson, treasurer of the Regency Estates Citizens Association, said he doesn’t see the point of pouring money into a fading center, since online shopping is making these retail hubs obsolete.

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

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