2013 | News

Art Incubator Condo Gets Planning Board Approvals

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 Potential look for an art incubator to be included in a 72-unit luxury condo building on Old Georgetown Road

The developer of a 72-unit luxury condo that will include a ground-floor art incubator space got two important approvals on Thursday from the Montgomery County Planning Board.

Chevy Chase-based Starr Capital plans a 17-story building with four levels of above-ground parking for 4990 Fairmont Ave., the site of a shuttered BP gas station along Old Georgetown Road.

The developer got community support for the project by proposing to dedicate 2,000 square feet of its ground-floor retail space to the county for art studios that would be managed by the Bethesda Urban Partnership. An art incubator space has been an objective of BUP and some members of the Woodmont Triangle Action Group (an advisory group made up of residents, business reps and developers) since a similar plan for the 8300 Wisconsin development fell through.

On Thursday, the developer revealed a little more of what that space might actually look like.

The idea is to create an “arts alley” type set-up between the east side of the building and the county’s Lot 11 parking garage. There would be 10 to 11 feet of space to walk through and view the galleries. There is a small alley there today.

The concept also includes projection of art or other designs onto the brick garage across the alley and the inclusion of some sort of artistic element in or on the columns on that side of its building.

Luigi Traettino, the owner of longtime Bethesda Italian restaurant Positano, did contact the Planning Department about how the new building would effect his business.

Positano is just north of the property at 4948 Fairmont Ave. Traettino told the Planning Board he would prefer the arts incubator space and alley be built on the side of the building facing his restaurant.

But attorney Bob Dalrymple, who’s representing Starr Capital, explained the garage access must go near that part of the site because of the way the garage will be constructed and because state road planners wouldn’t grant the developer a driveway on Old Georgetown Road.

Planning staff also explained the developer wants the arts incubator on the Old Georgetown Road side of the building to get more foot traffic.

The Planning board agreed and approved both the Preliminary and Project Plans for the project.

Photos via Montgomery County Planning Department