Developer Details High-Rise Plans for La Madeleine Property in Downtown Bethesda

The 225-foot-tall building would include housing, retail space

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An illustration of the proposed residential high-rise at 7606 Old Georgetown Road.

Via Washington Property Co.

The developer looking to build a residential high-rise on the La Madeleine site in downtown Bethesda is poised to present updated project plans to a local design panel.

If the project goes forward, the existing French bakery and café at 7607 Old Georgetown Road will make way for a 225-foot-tall structure containing about 200 multifamily dwelling units 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.

“By providing a quality urban living alternative in the vibrant heart of this Bethesda neighborhood the uses will help to support the emerging improvement of the public realm in Bethesda,” the developer wrote in a recent submission to the Bethesda Downtown Design Advisory Panel. “As a complement to the primarily commercial neighborhood, residents on this site will provide the critical support that successful retail street environments need to thrive.”

The Montgomery County Planning Board in July signed off on a sketch plan for the project, but the design advisory panel, a group of architects and experts who offer guidance to downtown Bethesda developers, did recommend that Washington Property look at scaling back a proposed overhang above the sidewalk on Commerce Lane.

With its new submission, Washington Property said it addressed the concern. The site plan proposal sets back the building about 12 feet from the curb line on Commerce Lane, enough space to plant several trees near the roadway.

Washington Property is also working with the owner of the Bethesda Place public plaza—which is behind the La Madeleine and former Safeway building—to make sure its project complements the open space. The plaza owner has shared early plans for improving the space with Washington Property, according to the paperwork.

The development proposal is scheduled for review by the design advisory panel during a Sept. 26 meeting at the county’s planning headquarters in Silver Spring.

Designs for the proposed building at 7607 Old Georgetown Road, now the site of the La Madeleine restaurant. Credit: Washington Property Co.

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

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