In 1871, Bethesda was nothing more than a crossroads village surrounded by farms, but today it stands as a thriving urban center with restaurants, entertainment venues, and more than 10,000 residents. With the Bethesda Downtown Plan, there are plans to expand and improve the area over the next 20 years by addressing challenges like a lack of urban parks, high energy demand, competition to remain a center of employment, and high rents. By 2035, there are hopes for the area to have new parks, more energy-efficient buildings, tree-lined streets, and more affordable housing choices. The areas in Bethesda that the plan focuses on include Bethesda Row, Wisconsin Avenue corridor, Woodmont Triangle, the Pearl and Arlington South districts, and the residential districts of Battery Lane, Eastern Greenway, South Bethesda, and Arlington North. Recently, the Montgomery County Planning Department revealed the above images that show the potential scope of development along Wisconsin Avenue. According to Bethesda Magazine, the Montgomery County Planning Department staff proposed a 290-foot building at the Bethesda Metro Plaza, 250-foot buildings on either side of Norfolk Avenue, and a civic green space between Norfolk Avenue and Wisconsin Avenue. At 7720 Wisconsin Avenue, there are also plans for a 250-foot Westin hotel and office building. Planners have recommended an overall 20 percent increase in density and an additional 4,000 rental units in the downtown area.
Bethesda-based real estate investment company Clark Enterprises is fighting real estate company Brookfield Properties' plans to build a 290-foot tower on Bethesda Metro Plaza. Clark instead hopes to build a Bethesda Metro Park with retail kiosks and interactive water features. Plans for converting the Bethesda Fire Department's fire station into an eight-story apartment with retail building has also raised ire from Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin, who describes the plans as "tone deaf" to community concerns.
Below, take a look at what else you can expect from Wisconsin Avenue and also Norfolk Avenue.
· County Planning Department Shows Scale of Potential Development in Downtown Bethesda [Bethesda Magazine]
· Bethesda Downtown Plan Staff Draft [Montgomery County Planning Department]