StonebridgeCarras picked to build police station

Developer StonebridgeCarras is marching along Metro’s Red Line, lining up projects in Maryland and the District, and the latest is at the Bethesda police station.

Based on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda, StonebridgeCarras was recently selected by Montgomery County to build a police station at 4823 Rugby Ave. in exchange for the opportunity to redevelop the site of the existing four-story, brick station at 7359 Wisconsin Ave., blocks from the Bethesda Metro station.

It is not the first time that the county has begun a public-private partnership to get a new Bethesda station built, and this effort will require approval from the county council. Doug Firstenberg, a principal at StonebridgeCarras, said he hoped to get the new station up and running by the first quarter of 2016.

But Firstenberg said he has already begun thinking about what to build in place of the existing station and the parking lot next door. Located at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Montgomery Lane, the property is in the midst of downtown Bethesda, and Firstenberg said a number of different plans could work.

“We have honestly looked at everything from hotel to office to residential,” Firstenberg said. “Because of the location we can really put anything we think is best there.”

Since the recession, StonebridgeCarras has been heavily focused on urban locations, particularly those near Red Line stations. It was one of the biggest and earliest investors in NoMa, the neighborhood behind Union Station in Northeast D.C., where it is building a speculative office building — meaning construction is starting without any office tenants lined up. The project is one of the sites being offered for a new headquarters for The Washington Post.

In Montgomery County, Stonebridge and condo builder PN Hoffman are building some 250 high-end housing units and 40,000 square feet of retail nearby at the corner of Bethesda and Woodmont avenues.

The county also selected a partnership between Stonebridge and the Bozzuto Group to lead a $200 million redevelopment effort in Wheaton, as well as a new housing project at 8787 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring. Both projects will be walkable to Red Line stations.

Firstenberg said the police station project should fit well among the others. “For us, it’s like the hole in the doughnut,” he said.

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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