Clark Enterprises Files Appeal Over Proposed Bethesda Metro Center Project

Lawsuit involves county planners’ approval of Brookfield Property Partners sketch plan

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The Clark office building towers over the Bethesda Metro Center.

Douglas Tallman

Clark Enterprises is appealing the Montgomery County Planning Board’s preliminary approval of a development project at Bethesda Metro Center in a lawsuit filed in the county’s Circuit Court in Rockville.

Earlier this month, Clark Enterprises, whose headquarters is next to the site of the proposed project calling for construction of a 290-foot-tall high-rise to replace what’s now the three-story Streetsense building, filed the appeal of the board’s July approval of the project’s sketch plan.

Clark attorney Jody Kline declined to comment Thursday morning. County Planning Department staff acknowledged the appeal has been filed, but also declined to comment. No further details about the lawsuit were available Friday morning.

The lawsuit is the latest development in a long-running dispute about the development of the downtown Bethesda property at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Old Georgetown Road.

Spearheaded by developer Brookfield Property Partners, the project calls for a roughly 500,000-square-foot building that would sit on the plaza near Clark’s headquarters and include retail space and housing or office space. The proposal also calls for improving and invigorating the plaza, which has been criticized for its “awkward design” and general lack of activity.

Brookfield’s plan for the open space would give rise to a plaza near the Metro access along Wisconsin Avenue. A promenade lined with restaurants and shops would lead pedestrians between the Hyatt Regency Bethesda and the new building, ending at a central lawn that could accommodate pop-up programs, concerts and outdoor movie nights, according to the company’s plan. A quieter “gallery” corridor would run past 3 Bethesda Metro Center toward the Clark building.

But Clark has critiqued the proposed plaza layout for enclosing too much of the open space, hiding the plaza behind tall buildings and isolating it from the bustle of Wisconsin Avenue.

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