The Montgomery County Planning Board Thursday approved changes to Woodmont East, a major development plan approved for the east side of Woodmont Avenue at the intersection of Bethesda Avenue.
According to developers JBG, the project would function as a “vibrant, live-work-play environment” that would replicate the character of nearby Bethesda Row. The project would bring office, residential and retail space, community gathering areas, streetside dining, and a boutique hotel to much of the block bounded by Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda Avenue, Elm Street, and Wisconsin Avenue.
A plaza near Woodmont Avenue, added to the project following concerns that initial plans affected community open space, “is staying the same,” said Pat Harris, an attorney for developers. “We worked very hard with all the stakeholders on that.”
The amendments approved Thursday would add a nearly 183,000 square-foot hotel, 168,950 square feet of office space, and more than 25,000 square feet of retail to the plan originally approved at the site. Both the Artery Building site, an office building on Bethesda Avenue, and a building at 7220 Wisconsin Avenue are planned to be tacked on to the project, extending the development east towards Wisconsin Avenue and bumping up the total size of the project from 2.5 acres to 5.82 acres.
In total, the project would include:
- 210 dwelling units
- A 182,950 square-foot hotel
- 81,165 square feet of retail
- 755,739 square feet of office space
Since the project’s approval in 2009, JBG has worked on acquiring the adjacent property and worked with the community to improve on the existing plan, said Holly Hull, of JBG. Gathering areas, ground-floor retail and outdoor café seating are planned along Bethesda Avenue, and developers will construct a multi-use path along Bethesda Avenue that will act as an alternative to the Capital Crescent Trail, which runs through the site.
Easements for both the trail and the future Purple Line are included in the development plan, and much of the discussion at Thursday’s hearing centered around potential conflicts between bicycle and pedestrian traffic as the trail enters the urban area, along with timing and phasing of the construction.
Developers will be required to wait until construction of nearby Lot 31 is complete before beginning the construction of the Bethesda Avenue path, which will affect street parking. Commissioners also addressed worries from the Town of Chevy Chase, which issued a letter raising concerns the development could increase use on a dangerous stretch of Wisconsin Avenue.
The letter also recommended development should be phased so as not to coincide with Lot 31 construction.