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SPEAK OUT: Are Less Expensive Rental Units On The Decline In Bethesda?

A plan to raze four Battery Lane apartment buildings and replace them with new residential developments could mean a loss of affordable rental units in Bethesda, according to one county councilman.

The Montgomery County Council has approved a re-zoning application that paves the way for a plan to raze four Battery Lane apartment buildings and replace them with three residential developments, The Gazette reports.

But County Councilman Marc Elrich (D-At Large) said the plan takes apartments renting at a lower market rate and replaces them with apartments that could command higher rates, according to The Gazette.

The council on Sept. 25 approved a re-zoning of 4857, 4858, 4890 and 4900 Battery Lane, allowing for more density on the sites. The lots house four apartment buildings with 260 units, and a re-development plan envisions three new buildings at the site with 700 units, including two high-rises.

The buildings are owned and operated by the Brown family, which also controls Aldon Management, Patch reported.

The Brown family doesn’t have immediate plans to move forward with redeveloping the aging buildings, but hopes to have a plan in place when the time comes to replace them, attorney Nancy Regelin told Patch last year.

The plan for the new buildings includes affordable units under the county's moderately priced dwelling program.

Elrich, who voted against the re-zoning, said the plan could replace the existing units with more expensive housing. Renting an unrenovated one-bedroom unit in the buildings costs $1,340, beneath the 2010 median Bethesda rent of $1,677, according to The Gazette.

“We have something of value that serves a good function. To wind up with less of it isn’t good public policy," Elrich said, according to The Gazette.

A project consultant for Aldon, quoted in the report, said that while the management company is committed to mid-range and not luxury housing, “There is nothing to prevent the owners from making significant improvements to the interior and raising the rents."

What do you think? Are "less expensive" rental units on the decline in Bethesda? Will new residential developments price out some Bethesda renters? Tell us in the comments.

aimee October 03, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Yes. I agree that there are far too few inexpensive rental units available in Bethesda. Also, the old buildings were built better and are usually more spacious than the new units recently built.

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