Planning Board Set to Approve Downtown Bethesda Office Project

Planning Board Set to Approve Downtown Bethesda Office Project

The JBG Cos. wants to replace an existing Bethesda Avenue office building with a bigger one

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Rendering of the new office building proposed for 4733 Bethesda Ave.

The JBG Cos.

County planners are recommending the approval of a project from developer JBG Cos. that would replace an eight-story office building on Bethesda Avenue with a 14-story office building with almost three times as much space.

The Planning Board will review the Artery Plaza project during its May 12 session.

As the Chevy Chase-based developer builds a two-story retail building at the intersection of Woodmont and Bethesda avenues, it also plans to replace the eight-story, 93,000-square-foot 4733 Bethesda Ave. office building directly to the east with the 14-story, 285,000-square-foot office building with first-floor retail or restaurant space.

Those two buildings, and the existing 12-story office and retail building at the intersection of Wisconsin and Bethesda avenues, are all part of JBG’s larger property with frontage on Bethesda Avenue.

The existing 4733 Bethesda Ave. building was built in 1965 and includes one ground-floor retail space that has long been vacant.

The existing 4733 Bethesda Ave. office building, via The JBG Cos.

The under-construction two-story building next door, once home to the Thyme Square restaurant, is also part of JBG’s effort to enhance its Bethesda Row-area properties.

The Thyme Square building demolition and redevelopment was approved in a separate approval process. County planners said the developer also plans to create a public park in the unused right-of-way for Reed Street—the open area that leads to the Capital Crescent Trail tunnel and future Bethesda Purple Line light-rail station.

After JBG and neighboring property owner Federal Realty Investment Trust’s joint plans to build a hotel on the site fell through in 2014, county officials have pushed for a public park there. Federal Realty owns the section of the site closest to the Bethesda Row Cinema.

“While this improvement is being pursued separately from the subject applications (or any application) its timing and proximity to the subject property will result in it being an integral component of the redevelopment of 4733 Bethesda Avenue,” the county planning staff wrote about JBG’s plans. “In addition to [providing] open space, the Reed Street park will provide an improved pedestrian and bicycle connection to the Capital Crescent Trail tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue and, eventually, to the Purple Line station.”

Just to the north of JBG’s property is the Apex Building, which developer Carr Properties expects to demolish and rebuild into three towers on top of the Bethesda Purple Line station—an office building as high as 290 feet fronting Wisconsin Avenue and two residential buildings that would back up to Bethesda Row.

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