New Bethesda Police Station Would Take Parking Away From Busy Garage
The new 2nd District Police Station will likely come at the cost of more than 100 parking spaces in a popular downtown Bethesda garage.
County officials and representatives from developer StonebridgeCarras presented plans for the new station, set to be built on a gravel parking lot at 4823 Rugby Avenue. The site backs up to the 496-space Woodmont-Rugby Garage at the northern end of downtown Bethesda.
In exchange for building the new station and taking on the costs, the county agreed in 2013 to give StonebridgeCarras the site of the existing 2nd District station at 7359 Wisconsin Avenue so that it can be redeveloped as the Bethesda-based company sees fit.
Greg Ossont, in charge of the county’s public-private development partnerships, said the existing police station is more than 50-years-old and one of the oldest facilities in the county’s portfolio.
The new station on Rugby Avenue will be about 10,000 square feet bigger with more modern security features. The design revealed at a public meeting on Monday is for a four-floor, roughly 60-foot tall building. There would be a public lobby and roughly 600-square-foot public meeting room on the ground floor, plus all the county-outlined requirements on the floors above.
But the project will include marking off about 115 spaces in the garage next door for police use only.
Those spaces would be reserved for squad cars, officers’ personal vehicles and storage. The existing garage entrance on Rugby Avenue would be converted into a secure police-only entrance with a gate.
The western portion of the three-level garage, save for a piece of the top level, would be cordoned off by a fence.
Much of the $9.2 million the county will pay for the project will go toward the county’s very own Bethesda Parking Lot District Fund as an upfront payment for the long-term leases in the garage.
David Draiman, owner of the Draiman Office Center at 4833 Rugby Avenue, was at the meeting on Monday and said he has concerns about losing parking in the garage.
Draiman said he was happy to see StonebridgeCarras added a pedestrian walkway from the garage to Rugby Avenue, so there was some way for garage-users to access that side of Woodmont Triangle.
The plans presented Monday also included preserving the sidewalk and mid-block crossing to the Aldon apartment properties near the garage.
The garage is also a popular place to park overnight for residents of Aldon’s many Battery Lane apartment buildings.
Montgomery County Department of Transportation officials at the meeting seemed comfortable with the prospect of losing the 115 spaces. One pointed to the underused Auburn-Del Ray garage just a few blocks to the west. That 742-space garage is underused to the point that the top floors are chained off.
MCDOT’s parking division might devise a mitigation plan to help replace the approximately 50 long-term parking spaces that would be lost.
2nd District Police Commander Capt. David Falcinelli said the department is permitted to use about 60 spaces in the Waverly Garage, which sits directly across the street from the existing 2nd District Station.
StonebridgeCarras principal Jane Mahaffie said construction of the new station should have minimal impact on the section of the garage that will remain open to the public.
The developer and Montgomery County hopes to bring the project to the Planning Board in the next few weeks for a mandatory referral review — meaning the Planning Board has no binding authority on the design of the project.
Mahaffie said StonebridgeCarras hopes to have construction contracts done by the end of this year and the first shovel in the ground in the first quarter of 2016. The one-year construction period would let police move in to the new building in the first quarter of 2017.
The 2nd District Station serves as the headquarters for county police operations in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, parts of Silver Spring, North Bethesda and much of Potomac.
Via Montgomery County