Auburn Avenue Project To Get Design Panel Scrutiny

Auburn Avenue Project To Get Design Panel Scrutiny

Plans include 175 apartments, commercial space near Imagination Stage

| Published:
Auburn Ave. rendering

Photo via Montgomery County Planning Department

A panel charged with providing feedback on proposed development projects will review a plan this week that includes 175 apartments and 12,500 square feet of retail use in Bethesda.

The project plans cover two addresses across the street from Imagination Stage — 4915 and 4921 Auburn Ave. — and call for replacing two retail and office buildings dating from the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Roughly 18 percent, or 31 units, will be affordable housing, and the project will be split into two buildings.

On one lot, along Norfolk Avenue and closest to single-family homes, will sit a four-story mixed-use building and public use space, which will serve as a connection between Auburn Avenue and Battery Lane Urban Park. The second lot will include an 11-story building.

The county Planning Board gave preliminary approval to the plan, submitted by developer Auburn Building Associates, in November.

The developers did not respond to requests for comment.

The Bethesda Downtown Design Advisory Panel, a group of architects and developers tasked with providing advice and feedback for Bethesda-area projects, will review the plans Wednesday. Members do not recommend whether to approve or deny developments, but the Planning Board does consider their comments when reviewing plans.

“The building envelope has been broken down using a number of design techniques to promote compatibility with the neighboring single-family homes, to provide a comfortable scale at the pedestrian level, minimize shadows on the ground plane, and respond to the Property’s prominent location within the Bethesda (central business district),” the application says. “The Project has also been designed to contribute to the strength of Downtown Bethesda as a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use district.”

The through-block connection will be lined with ground-floor retail and incorporate a series of arches and LED lights, and the two buildings have had “notches” removed on the ground floor to provide more public gathering space. Below-ground parking is included in development plans.

Residents in the building would have access to a rooftop deck, fitness center and community rooms.

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

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