Rendering shows Equity One's plan for the Westwood Shopping Center, with town houses in the rear. Credit: Equity One.
About 130 people attended a meeting Tuesday night to get a look at the preliminary plan drawings that Equity One has drawn up for its Westbard redevelopment.
Equity One has planned the project to include 1.8 million square feet, a rebuilt aging Westwood Shopping Center, re-aligned Westbard Road and a 120-foot high-rise.
Tuesday’s meeting, at The Ballroom on Landy Lane in Bethesda, was a required step before Equity One submits its formal preliminary plan documents to the county planning board. Bill Brown, Equity One’s executive vice president of development, said the preliminary plan will be done by the end of the year.
In his presentation, Brown showed the shopping center divided into three three-story buildings, 60 feet tall. One building would have a Giant grocery store.
The current site of the Bowlmor would be where a 120-foot-tall high-rise would be constructed. Brown said Bowlmor has a long-term lease and that Equity One is trying to find the bowling alley a suitable space so it can move.
The drawings Brown presented at the meeting showed no overhead utility lines. However, during the meeting he said the drawings were inaccurate; Equity One does not plan to place the utility lines underground.
Over the last two years some local residents have loudly objected to the greater density and the changes that will come to the neighborhood. But last night’s meeting was relatively low key.
Ginny Strasser of Bethesda asked Brown if he was agreeable to negotiate with residents to downsize the project.
Brown said no.
“For the last three years, we have come up with a realistic plan for the investment we’ve put into this,” he said. “We need to push forward with this development.”
One woman expressed her concerns about the fate of the neighborhood’s local businesses.
“You need to meet our needs. We don’t need any more Pottery Barns,” she said.
The project includes a new parking garage that will face the Willett Branch. Instead of a parking garage, Equity One could create a stream-side walkway similar to what surrounds Carroll Creek in Frederick, said Sarah Morse, executive director of the Little Falls Watershed Alliance.
Brown said later that there have been discussions with the county concerning the stream.
Renderings of Equity One's plans for the Westbard neighborhood. Credit: Equity One