Chestnut Lodge Plan Gets Green Light

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By Michael S. Rosenwald
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 9, 2006

The Rockville City Council voted earlier this week to approve a Bethesda developer's plans to transform the grounds of the defunct Chestnut Lodge psychiatric hospital into 43 houses and condominiums worth at least $1 million each.

Morton H. Levine's $45 million project has been widely supported in the community -- a rarity these days -- largely because residents say the developer convinced them that he would revive one of Rockville's most charming properties while respecting its past.

Under Levine's plans, the property's main building -- which was built in the late 1800s as a hotel before becoming a sanitarium -- will be restored to its former grandeur and house seven luxury condos. Two cottages, an ice house and an old red barn are also being restored.

The rest of the property will be dotted with 36 Victorian-style homes, some with elevators.

"Do us proud," Mayor Larry Giammo told Levine after the approval.

Levine said he would.

While the developer won battles to demolish an old, dilapidated nurses' residence and to forgo building a large park on the property, he must build an emergency access road that could be later turned into a street connecting the property with the nearby Rose Hill Community.

Many Rose Hill residents argued vehemently against the road, fearing it would become a cut-through. Language in the approval documents stipulates that the Chestnut and Rose Hill homeowners associations would have to approve turning the road into a regular thoroughfare.

Levine's plan will go to the Planning Commission, which will work out the nitty-gritty details of engineering, sewage and storm water management.

'America's Best Builder'

The National Association of Home Builders has named Mid-Atlantic Builders Inc., a Rockville firm, "America's Best Builder for 2006."

The award is handed out annually by a panel of industry specialists who choose the winner based on performances in finance, operations, design construction, marketing, customer service, quality and community service.

"This award confirms what we've known all along," said company president Roger M. Lebbin, who has led the firm through several major projects in Prince George's County. "Mid-Atlantic Builders is a company long known for building strong relationships with its customers, vendors and communities through our commitment to excellence and close attention to detail. It's indeed an honor to be recognized for the quality we bring to the Washington area's new home industry."

A Rexahn, UMD Partnership

Rexahn Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Rockville biotech company, is partnering with University of Maryland School of Pharmacy's Center for Nanomedicine and Cellular Delivery to develop drugs targeting cancer and central nervous system disorders.

As part of the arrangement, a postdoctoral fellow from the school will work at Rexahn's headquarters to help apply nanomedicine techniques to the firm's drugs in development.

Nanomedicine, according to a news release, "integrates elements of medicine and nanotechnology, which involves the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules to manufacture materials at scales less than 100 nanometers, a few billionths of a meter."

"This collaboration is an important one for us," said George Steinfels, chief business officer of Rexahn. "We see it as a unique opportunity not only for the postdoctoral fellow that will ultimately be selected, but it's also an arrangement that benefits both Rexahn and the University of Maryland. This sort of partnership is key to our drug development process."

Have some business news about Montgomery County? Send an e-mail torosenwaldm@washpost.com.


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