Grosvenor-Strathmore Growth Plan Heads to County Council

As featured in Bethesda Magazine 

The Montgomery County Council in coming weeks will take up a draft plan for the transformation of vacant land surrounding the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station in North Bethesda.

The proposal prepared by the Montgomery County Planning Board would permit an estimated 1,397 new housing units on the 15-acre property owned by the Metro system.

It would also allow a developer to build three high-rises as “signature buildings” to give the site a distinctive architecture. Two of the buildings near the Metro station could stand up to 300 feet tall, while a third on Tuckerman Lane would have a 220-foot height limit, according to the draft.

Planning board members Thursday agreed to send the county council their version of the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan, a document that has been in the works for the past year.

“Well done,” Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson told planning staff before the vote.

While the plan covers 117 acres encompassing the Music Center at Strathmore, most debate has focused on the Metro-owned property slated for development in coming years. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is forging a deal to sell the land to Fivesquares Development, a D.C.-based company. The final asking price will depend on how much housing Fivesquares is allowed to fit on the property.

Before finalizing the plan draft, board members decided to make several final changes. For one thing, they stipulated that the developer must commission a traffic study before building the third tower near the Metro station. They also suggested that the exact size and shape of an open space in the development should be finalized later on in the project review.

Planning Director Gwen Wright said officials aren’t backing off their initial requirement that Fivesquares provide 1.25 acres of open space.

“But what we don’t want to do is put ourselves in that bind, where if it turns out to be 1.24, someone is going to jump up and say, ‘Well, that’s not in the master plan,’” she said.

The council could begin discussing the board’s draft master plan in September, according to a county planner.

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