Although county officials have broad visions for what they would like to see at the stops, in most cases there are few specifics.
In the Chevy Chase Lake area of north Chevy Chase, many residents say they would welcome a more walkable community of apartments, condominiums and offices above street-level stores and restaurants. The Chevy Chase Land Co. has proposed a cluster of 23 buildings at a Purple Line station that would be located at Connecticut Avenue about a mile inside the Capital Beltway.
Such developments have been popular with commute-weary residents and often fetch premium prices.
“Here you can have a mixed-use transit [development] where you can live, eat and work in the same area,” said Scott DeCain, managing partner of Bald Eagle Partners, which is working with the Land company on the project. “There’s much less impact environmentally because you have the ability to do much of what you need in the community.”
But some say the developers’ 49-acre proposal,which includes buildings 10 to 19 stories tall, would overwhelm the critical Connecticut Avenue commuting corridor, which runs from the District line to Kensington, Wheaton and Olney. Motorists from any new development would come on top of the additional 3,550 vehicles projected daily for that section of Connecticut Avenue after the nearby National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda completes its expansion in September as part of the Base Realignment and Closure program.
“It’s already a disaster from a commuting standpoint,” said Geoff Gonella, a board member for the nearby Columbia Country Club, which has opposed the proposed Purple Line route through its golf course. “Our fear is too much development in Chevy Chase Lake is only going to make that worse.”
‘Here’s an opportunity’
In a preliminary proposal, Montgomery planners have recommended far less new building, suggesting that the County Council approve only about 1 million square feet of new office, residential and retail space out of the more than 4 million square feet that the Land company has proposed.
Most of that — about 800,000 square feet — would be permitted only after Purple Line construction begins. Planners also have recommended limiting building heights to about six stories to better blend with surrounding houses. The planning board is scheduled to make a recommendation this fall to the County Council, which will make the final decision.