Updated Farm Women’s Market Development Receives Positive Reviews
Chevy Chase, county officials praise more greenspace
A rendering of proposed plans for the Bethesda Farm Women's Market.
Once a point of tension in Chevy Chase, a redevelopment plan for the Farm Women’s Market in Bethesda has earned the support of town and county officials.
Bethesda-based developer EYA Holdings in July unveiled revamped plans for the historic site, increasing the amount of green space and decreasing residential density, appeasing many who previously felt the proposal didn’t have enough parks. The property, on Wisconsin Avenue, touches the Chevy Chase town border.
More than 100 people attended a meeting this month to present the updated plans to the Chevy Chase community, according to Mayor Barney Rush. The meeting was positive and productive, he said.
Early this year, some residents voiced concern that developing the market would hinder, not promote, the quality of life in Bethesda. Business owners feared development on the parking lots would hurt their businesses because not enough spaces would be available during construction.
EYA’s new plan used a phased development approach that would leave at least one parking lot available for use at all times.
“The needle has moved quite substantially and people really do see this … is generally a good project,” Rush said. “I can’t say 100% of people support this, but I’m very comfortable saying the vast majority are in support.”
Previous plans called for a roughly 70-foot-tall building behind the market and 18 townhomes on a parking lot to the east of the market. However, both of those ideas have been removed from EYA’s designs, according to McLean Quinn, vice president of land acquisition for EYA.
The building behind the market, which would have been a 16,000-square-foot “retail pavilion,” was replaced with a roughly 6,000-square-foot addition to the market itself.
A 175-foot-tall high-rise residential building was modified to remove about 30,000 square feet of space on what is now parking lot 24 to increase the amount of park space in the project.
The Farm Women’s Market was founded in 1932.
The Montgomery County Planning Board will review the new plans on Oct. 24.
“I think part of the success was listening and having open ears, but also just being willing to engage in modifications to the plan and being honest about what we could and couldn’t do,” Quinn said. “There’s plenty of work ahead of us still, but we’re excited to continue to engage with the community.”
Montgomery County Council member Andrew Friedson, who represents Bethesda, said he believes the project’s increased focus on providing public amenities and greenspace is key “to our quality of life and to achieving … economic development goals.”
“Transforming asphalt into public green space and adding needed housing while preserving and reinvigorating one of Bethesda’s historic treasures is a shining example of the huge community benefits when residents and businesses, county and municipal leaders all come together,” Friedson said.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org