Construction also will close a block of Woodmont south of Bethesda Avenue for about 20 months. The relatively small but key road is used by many motorists to bypass congested Wisconsin Avenue.
The news brought wide eyes and groans from some who frequent the area.
“It’s already horrible,” said Dominic Bregenz, 36, who lives in Bethesda and said he walks downtown whenever possible to avoid having to park. “If they take that lot away, you’re really not going to have any parking.”
Starting in November, utility relocation work will close some spaces in the largest of the two lots adjacent to the trail and a Honda dealership. Workers will move the trail entrance slightly to the east temporarily and build a shielded walkway for runners and cyclists near the large construction site. The trail will remain open throughout the nearly three years of construction, the developer said.
In January, the two surface lots will close to allow for the start of construction on the two buildings. The building on the southwest corner will be five stories, with retail on the ground floor and 162 residential units above. On the southeast corner, a nine-story building will have 88 residential units and ground-level retail.
The one-block section of Woodmont will close within several weeks of the beginning of the January construction so crews can build a parking garage beneath it, the developer said. When finished in about two years, the underground garage will provide 290 tenant parking spaces and about 900 public spaces, officials said. The street also will be moved slightly to the west and narrowed to slow down traffic and help pedestrians cross more easily.
The net result will be about 600 additional public parking spaces and more high-rise living, changes that should create a more vibrant “downtown” feel, county officials and the developer said. The county, which owns the parking lots, sought developers’proposals for the 3.1 acres in 2004.
“When we develop our two buildings, they will really complete those corners and complement the existing Bethesda Row,” said Doug Firstenberg of Bethesda-based StonebridgeCarras, which is developing the two buildings with District-based PN Hoffman.
Firstenberg said the project will cost about $150 million.
The county is paying about $49 million of the garage’s $89 million construction cost, with the developers paying the rest, said Ken Hartman, director of the county’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center. Revenue from downtown Bethesda parking meters will fund the project, Hartman said. No tax money is involved, he said.