2019 | Development

Bethesda French Café Property Considered for Apartment Tower

Planners expected to OK preliminary designs for La Madeleine site

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French cafe La Madeline is pictured on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda.

Bethesda Beat photo

Tentative designs for the redevelopment of a downtown Bethesda restaurant and cafe property are expected to be approved this week by the county Planning Board.

The French bakery and café La Madeleine at 7607 Old Georgetown Road, a block from Bethesda Metro Center, would be replaced by a 225-foot-tall building with 200 one- and two-bedroom apartments and 3,000 square feet of retail space.

The developer, Washington Property Co., says the building as envisioned will “cut a striking profile against the Bethesda skyline and introduce housing to a primarily commercial area.”

About 15 percent of the residential units will be designated as moderately priced dwelling units, which will provide affordable housing and are mandated by the county.

Staff planners recommend developers incorporate no more than 140 underground parking spaces for the project to be sold or leased separately from the purchase or lease of the residences. About 100 bicycle parking spaces are also included in the report from staff planners, which recommends approval.

Developers propose replacing a popular French cafe in downtown Bethesda with a high-rise apartment complex. (Image courtesy of the Montgomery County Planning Board)

La Madeleine is a Dallas-based chain with more than 80 locations nationwide, including one on Crown Park Avenue in Gaithersburg. A manager for the Bethesda cafe could not be reached for comment and the corporate office did not respond to a request for information about whether the shop would relocate.

The proposed building was designed with bird safety in mind, according to Planning Board documents, with one facade composed of half solid material and half glass to avoid large stretches of uninterrupted glass that could be dangerous for birds.

Other facades use features such as balconies and window trim to create shadow and color to reduce the chances of birds flying into glass panes.

Developers plan to contribute funds to incorporate new green space at the Bethesda Veteran’s Park and Farm Women’s Market, about a half-mile away, and will provide payment for an off-site 19-dock bikeshare station.

Bethesda-based Washington Property is also seeking to develop a 26-story apartment and retail center in Silver Spring’s Ripley District, and is the developer behind the Solaire-branded apartment buildings throughout the county.

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