Planning Board to pay $9.6 million for downtown Bethesda properties for new park

Planning Board to pay $9.6 million for downtown Bethesda properties for new park

‘Civic green’ across from Veterans Park

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A map of the existing Veteran's Park site and future civic green. The properties to be purchased by the Planning Board are outlined in red.

via Montgomery County Planning

The Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday agreed to purchase two downtown Bethesda properties to build a new “civic green” across the street from Veterans Park on Woodmont Avenue.

The $9.6 million purchase encompasses two lots, 7800 Wisconsin Ave., the former longtime home of Union Hardware, and 7810 Wisconsin Ave., which houses retail shop Ultimate Home, Inc. The site is near the future Marriott International headquarters.

The purchase will kick-start the build-out of a master-planned park in Woodmont Triangle, intended to serve as a “gathering space” and “the hinge between Wisconsin Avenue and Norfolk Avenue,” according to Planning Board documents.

“This green open space is meant to complement the hardscape plaza in the current Veterans Park and provide expanded space for casual use and more formal events and programming,” documents say.

The properties will be purchased using money in the county’s Park Impact Payment fund, into which developers pay for certain building projects.

One property will be purchased at a time.

The first will be for $7 million within the next four months. The second property will be purchased for $2.6 million by Oct. 31, 2021, according to Planning Board documents.

A well-known mural, The Starry Night mosaic, on the exterior of the 7800 Wisconsin Ave. building, will remain in place until demolition occurs, then it will be removed and preserved.

Specifics about the proposed park aren’t yet known.

Planning Board documents say “close coordination with the redevelopment of adjacent properties and use of land exchanges or other real estate transactions will be necessary to implement the vision for this new” park.

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

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