Developer Shares Plans for Artena Bethesda Apartment Project on Wisconsin Avenue

A developer on Thursday shared preliminary plans for building a roughly 200-foot-high apartment complex with ground-floor retail on a collection of Wisconsin Avenue properties in downtown Bethesda.

The roughly one-acre project site is wedged between two ongoing redevelopment efforts—one by Toll Bros. and the other by JBG Smith. The plans cover addresses from 7938 to 8000 Wisconsin Ave. and 8011 Woodmont Ave., as well as a county-owned parking lot at 8009 Woodmont Ave.

A land-use attorney told community members that the project, Artena Bethesda, is an opportunity to bring cohesiveness to a block that is undergoing major transformation.

“To try to make some sense out of it,” attorney Bob Dalrymple said.

The developer, Aksoylu Properties, expects to submit a sketch plan application in December for permission to build up to 460 apartments and 25,000 square feet of retail space, according to a project notice. The entire building could contain about 430,000 square feet, Dalrymple said.

An underground parking structure with about 300 spaces would serve the apartment building and street-level businesses, the early plans show.

The numbers are preliminary and will likely change as the redevelopment effort moves forward, project partners said.

Dalrymple said the bundle of properties have a 175-foot height cap, but Aksoylu can add another 25 feet by providing more moderately priced housing than required by the county.

The new Bethesda plan directs developers to make at least 15 percent of their dwelling units affordable; Aksoylu’s plan calls for setting aside 25 percent of the units for moderately priced housing, according to Dalrymple.

The proposal also will involve making a park impact payment to the county to increase the allowable square footage for the project site.

The project is expected to progress at a fast pace, as required by an arrangement with the county. Dalyrmple said the Artena Bethesda developers won a bid a couple of years ago to buy Woodmont Avenue Lot from the county. The resulting development agreement will force them to move on an expedited timeline.

Dalrymple said that if all goes according to plan, project demolition will begin in the spring or summer of 2019, with the buildings ready for occupancy by the middle of 2021.

Community members who attended the informational session at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center asked about the possible effect of construction work happening simultaneously at multiple sites along Wisconsin and Woodmont avenues.

Dalrymple acknowledged the potential for projects on the corridor to cause disruption for pedestrians and drivers. However, he said the Artena Bethesda project will have a construction management plan to minimize the disturbance.

As featured in Bethesda Magazine