New Growth Plan Sets Stage for Development of Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Site

County Council members on Tuesday approved a growth plan for a new neighborhood around the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station.

Staff estimates have indicated that the plan could allow an additional 1,400 housing units on a site just south of the Music Center at Strathmore. The plan covers 117 acres along Metro’s Red Line but focuses most attention on 15 acres encompassing a parking garage, a surface lot and other Metro facilities.

The unanimous vote lets Fivesquares Development move forward with designing high rises, multifamily housing and a village green on land owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

“We honestly believe we’re going to create a great community feel here,” Fivesquares principal Ron Kaplan said.

Kaplan said Fivesquares plans to begin expanding the Metro garage in 2018, a precursor to starting construction on the surface parking lot. The company also will work on an overall development plan for the site that can be submitted to the Montgomery County Planning Board next year, he said.

The company is entering a 98-year lease for the Metro property and will pay WMATA based on the number of residential units constructed there, he added.

Early plans involve creating a roughly one-acre central park, providing some small-scale retail establishments, improving pedestrian and bike paths, and adding public art and performance space, according to Kaplan and a Fivesquares press release.

“This is really a plan that I believe can be achieved in the reasonably near term, and it’s going to do really great things to take advantage of that Metro asset,” Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson said Tuesday.

The council largely stuck with the planning board’s version of the Grosvenor-Strathmore growth document. Marlene Michaelson, a senior legislative analyst for the council, said the most significant change was to increase from 40 to 300 feet the height cap along the western side of the site, adjacent to the Metro tracks.

The maximum height for most of the Metro property is 160 feet, but the plan allows the construction of two potential “signature buildings” up to 300 feet tall. The developer also could construct a third high-rise up to 220 feet high, according to the plan.

The document includes a transition zone so that building heights are lower in areas closer to existing neighborhoods. Directly across from the homes on Tuckerman Lane, for instance, building heights are limited to 85 feet, Michaelson said.

Planning board’s version of height plan for development on the Metro site. Via Montgomery County Planning Department.

As featured in Bethesda Magazine