After January’s blizzard, attorney Mark Lewis began the arduous task of shoveling the driveway of his new Bethesda home until a crew unexpectedly arrived to finish the job.
“I had forgotten that snow removal service is provided by the community,” Lewis says. “One of the reasons we moved here is that we have all the advantages of a single-family home but without the baggage of outdoor maintenance and a big yard.”
Lewis, 50, and his wife Donna, 51, were the first to move into Bethesda Mews, a development of single-family houses by Rockville-based Michael Harris Homes next to the intersection of Cedar Lane and Old Georgetown Road.
Now empty nesters, the Lewises bought their four-bedroom house for almost $2 million to be inside the Beltway near downtown Bethesda. They moved from a similarly sized home in Potomac to the new community last November. “We did not downsize the house, but we did downsize the yard,” says Mark Lewis. “We also moved into a much more open floor plan.”
Elevators offered: Built on narrow lots, the 29 houses of Bethesda Mews are a block from the National Institutes of Health. Three acres of the 10-acre community are devoted to a forest conservation area with an environmental learning and play area for kids. On the side nearest Old Georgetown Road, eight of the houses will face an English garden-style mews, scheduled to be completed this summer.
Four home designs are offered, each with a two-car garage built at the front or rear. The two-story houses can be customized with elevators, main-floor bedrooms, a loft suite above the garage and other options. Each design can be expanded from four bedrooms and four bathrooms to six bedrooms and seven bathrooms.
After buying the Craftsman-inspired Radcliffe model, the Lewises moved a fireplace on the first level and configured the basement to create an open entertaining space with a wet bar.
Prices range from $1.45 million for four bedrooms and four bathrooms to about $2 million for six bedrooms and seven bathrooms. So far, eight of the houses have sold. Two five-bedroom houses on the market, priced at $1.55 million and a $1.9 million, are slated for completion in May or June.
Traditional and contemporary design: Homeowner association fees are $210 per month and cover yard maintenance, trash removal and snow shoveling. The traditional exteriors of the houses are designed to be low-maintenance with fiber-cement siding and brick, aluminum gutters and downspouts and durable roof shingles meant to last 30 years.
“People are so busy these days and it is difficult for them to even cut the grass on weekends,” says Leslie Fitzpatrick, vice president of sales and marketing for Michael Harris Homes. “If they want to relax and go out to do something fun together or go on vacation to the beach, they do not need to worry about the outdoor yardwork if they are living here.”
Inside the brick-faced model home — a high-end version of the Pembrook design — traditional, closed-off rooms are paired with contemporary, open spaces. The front door opens to a foyer set between formal dining and living rooms. Wainscoting extends through the hallway and staircase in the center of the house.
Across the hall from the staircase is a library/study, which could be turned into a bedroom. Behind the stairs, a butler’s pantry extends into the kitchen.
The rear of the house is designed to be more open with the kitchen and family room treated as one big space. The kitchen with its 5- by-7-foot marble-topped island adjoins a nook for breakfast or casual meals.
This part of the house feels more modern, with stainless-steel Viking appliances, recessed lighting and a simple gas fireplace set into a marble-faced wall. The two-car garage at the back of the house is reached from a mud room with a closet.
Upstairs are four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The owner’s suite incorporates a sitting room with a gas fireplace and two walk-in closets. The master bathroom includes a shower with rain head fixture and bench, plus a soaking tub and a toilet cubicle.
Transit: Bethesda Mews is about 1.2 miles from the Medical Center Metrorail station and is near the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270. The community is served by several bus routes, including the J-1, J-2 and J-3 lines connecting Bethesda to Silver Spring via Old Georgetown Road.
What’s nearby: The North Bethesda Trail, also known as the Bethesda Trolley Trail, runs past the community to provide a walking and biking path to the restaurants and shops in downtown Bethesda. The Wildwood Shopping Center and Montgomery Mall are a short drive away.
Schools: Wyngate Elementary, Bethesda Middle and Walter Johnson High.
5518 Alta Vista Rd., Bethesda
The single-family houses are priced from $1.45 million to about $2 million.
Builder: Michael Harris Homes
Features: The single-family houses are designed with four expandable floor plans. The main level has formal living and dining rooms at the front and kitchen, family room and breakfast area at the back. Each house has a two-car garage at the front or rear.
Bedrooms/bathrooms: 4 / 4 to 6 / 7
Square footage: 3,150 to more than 5,000
Homeowner association fees: $210 per month
View model: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Sales: Leslie Fitzpatrick, vice president of sales and marketing, Michael Harris Homes, at 240-285-2338, or go to www.LiveAtBethesdaMews.com.