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Two home builders announce plans for luxury condos in Bethesda

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The condo craze is back — at least in downtown Bethesda.

Two home builders announced major new condominium projects near the Bethesda Metro station last week, some of the biggest local steps back into condo development since the housing bust.

More than 200 luxury condominiums are now on their way to the neighborhood. A major downtown housing project, with an 88-unit luxury condo building — called The Darcy — and 162 apartments, is already under construction at the corner of Bethesda and Woodmont avenues. Those units are due to be completed in 2015.

The two projects that developers announced last week will add another 130 luxury units. Pennsylvania-based home builder Toll Bros. has assembled multiple properties on Hampden Lane, between Woodmont Avenue and Arlington Road, and plans to build a seven-story, 60-unit luxury condominium building with underground parking.

Toll Bros. plans to begin construction this fall and begin sales in the spring of 2014. The company also announced that it would open an office in Bethesda. Stephen Alfandre, local director of acquisitions, said the company was hunting for similar deals.

“With significant capital on hand, we are positioned to close quickly on deals in prime urban locations,” Alfandre said in a press release. “The new site on Hampden Lane is a prime example, and we are actively looking for more development sites to complement it.”

Nearby, Starr Capital, based in Chevy Chase, partnered with private investment partners to buy the former BP gas station on Fairmont Avenue and a dated office building next door. They plan a 17-story, 70-unit luxury condominium building and hope to begin construction in 2015.

The number of condominiums for sale in the Washington area is at a record low, according to Alexandria research firm Delta Associates. But a total of 2,046 units sold in 2012, 27 percent more than the 1,617 that sold in 2011. Delta researchers said that after several years of malaise the local condo market was on the rebound.

Timothy S. Eden, managing director of Starr Capital, said projects of 60 or 70 units were a “sweet spot” for developers and Bethesda’s demographics, attractions and transportation made it one of the most attractive markets.

“Bethesda is really exciting right now,” Eden said.

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