Wisconsin Avenue project calls for up to 350 apartments, retail space
Current buildings at Bethesda site would be torn down
One slide shown during a community meeting on Wednesday shows the layout of a mixed-use project proposed at 8001 Wisconsin Ave.
Photo by Andrew Schotz
A developer on Wednesday unveiled plans to remake a block of Wisconsin Avenue with apartments and retail space.
A preliminary proposal for 8001 Wisconsin Ave. includes up to 350 apartment units and 15,000 square feet for retail on the ground floor.
The overall mixed-use project would have about 375,000 square feet from Wisconsin Avenue to Tilbury Street, between Highland and West Virginia avenues.
Brian T. Downie, a senior vice president of development for B.F. Saul Company, which is proposing the project, ran through the details Wednesday evening during a community meeting.
Downie said the apartment towers would start at 90 feet high, the maximum allowed, but would taper down to 70 feet high.
There also would be a series of courtyards, said John Torti of Torti Gallas + Partners, an architectural firm working on the project.
The proposal includes greenspace about 70 feet wide, running along Tilbury Street. It would total about 15,000 square feet.
To make way for the project, several freestanding buildings would be torn down, Downie said. A CitiBank branch is there now.
The developer is figuring on 15 percent of the units being designated as “moderately priced,” to meet a requirement for affordable housing.
About two dozen people came to Wednesday’s meeting to hear about the proposal, along with various people connected to the project.
Downie said the plan is in an early stage and the number of apartment units might drop.
The developer expects to submit a proposal to Montgomery County’s planning board by next week.
Downie said the review process could take about two years. Then, if the project is approved, it might take about a two-and-a-half years to build.
Some in the audience praised the project for its design, including the greenspace and the appeal for pedestrians.
Several people asked questions or made suggestions, such as a request to consider left-turn restrictions and the effect the project would have on local traffic, especially on Tilbury Street.
The plan includes 345 parking spaces beneath the towers. Even though a lot of people don’t need a car to live in downtown Bethesda, many still have one and want to have parking, said Bob Dalrymple, an attorney with Linowes and Blocher who is working on the project.
People like to have a car to use on the weekend, Downie said.