Westbard Developer Abandons Original Plan for Westwood Shopping Center

Westbard Developer Abandons Original Plan for Westwood Shopping Center

Regency Centers Corp. to present scaled-down project proposal during Jan. 31 meeting

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Rendering shows Equity One's original plan for the Westwood Shopping Center.

Credit: Equity One.

The developer of Westwood Shopping Center has scrapped an initial project plan and is preparing a new proposal for overhauling the Westbard property.

The changes seem to have dramatically scaled down the redevelopment plan, reducing the total square footage from 1.8 million to roughly 820,000 square feet. A public notice for a Jan. 31 community meeting states that the new proposal will include up to 108 townhomes and 420 multi-family units.

Representatives of the developer, Regency Centers Corp., earlier this month withdrew the original sketch plan for the Bethesda properties on the east and west sides of Westbard Avenue, just south of Ridgefield Road.

Equity One, the company that submitted the initial sketch plan for the shopping center, has since been acquired by Regency in a merger finalized last March. In a Jan. 16 letter to the Montgomery County Planning Department, Regency’s attorney gave little explanation of the company’s decision to rescind the previously approved sketch plan. The attorney, Erin Girard, wrote simply that the developer had “determined this approval is no longer in its best interests and is therefore seeking its formal abandonment.”

The sketch plan approved last February had met with a groundswell of community opposition, focused on concerns over the potential disruption of a historic African-American cemetery and the burden on local roads and schools. The plan called for residential, retail and commercial development, a rebuilt shopping center and a 120-foot high-rise.

Patricia Kolesar, a Westbard community activist, said even though Regency has abandoned the original development design, she’s not yet ready to celebrate.

“I think people are eager to talk to [Regency],” she said. “People want to get in the room with them.”

Kolesar said she and other residents aren’t opposed to development and are eager for a transformation at the aging Westwood Shopping Center, anchored by a Giant grocery store.

A Regency spokeswoman declined to detail the updated development plans, saying the company wants to present the full picture during the upcoming community meeting.

The community meeting on the revised proposal is scheduled to run from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at Westland Middle School in Bethesda.

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

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