The downtown Bethesda shopping district in Montgomery County gets all the attention and sidewalk traffic, but it's the northern end of town, next to the National Institutes of Health campus, that's beginning to eke out a little more of the urban limelight.
Stonehall, an eight-story luxury condominium building at Battery Lane and Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda, stands castle-like among neighboring streets with squat commercial spaces and an old-fashioned vibe. But from the upper floor, windows cranes are visible across the sky, and there are blockwide excavation pits promising lots more new construction that will push Bethesda's boundaries outward.
"Stonehall is a boutique condo because it's not particularly big," said Laura Henne, director of sales at McWilliams Ballard, the company handling Stonehall sales. Forty-six units — ranging from one to three bedrooms and two penthouses — and 18 floor plans are offered. Forty-five percent, including one penthouse, are sold.
Leo and Marta Moersen said they thought about downsizing for awhile before they found Stonehall. "We lived in a three-bedroom single-family in Bethesda for 26 years and are finding the adjustment to a much smaller two-bedroom condo to be fairly easy," Marta Moersen said.
The units are big — most are around 1,500 square feet. "We addressed the issue of moving out of a private house by making the rooms large and showing our models furnished with big pieces. We believe you shouldn't have to sacrifice your belongings when you move here," Henne said.
Bathroom windows: Practically all units have windows in the kitchen, and many have bathroom windows, a feature practically unheard of in new condo construction. "Because the building is long and narrow, you have windows in places that usually don't get them," Henne said.
Duball BW, an affiliate of Duball, is the developer; Maurice Walters Architecture is the architect; and Hartman Design Group is the designer.
David Morens moved from a 5,400-square-foot single-family home a half-mile away and is thrilled. "I think of Bethesda as my town, and to me it's like moving down the street," he said.
"Before I moved, I was thinking about taking care of such a big house. There's always something going wrong. I was always mowing the lawn. I realized it was eating into my life and time. I thought, 'This is crazy. Why don't I spend my time doing what I want to do?' "
The Moersens echoed the same sentiments. "Our weekends feel so much longer now that we have fewer chores. We use this freed-up time to pursue our hobbies," Marta Moersen said.
Plethora of storage: An entry hall leads into the home. Floor plans are mostly open-concept, but some units have a more delineated kitchen, with space for a table and couple chairs. There's abundant drawer and pantry storage, and islands are sized proportionately. Many terraces and balconies open through a glass door from the kitchen, so carrying drinks or plates outside is easy. "Kitchen ceiling detail designed around the duct work is a nice touch," Henne said, as are drapery rod pockets built into the living room ceiling.
The street-facing lobby is a comfortable lounging spot with concierge desk, TV screen, black couches, gold armchairs and coffee tables. There's a clubroom, fitness center, ninth-floor roof terrace with tables and chairs, and a 10th-floor roof terrace just for seating.
Elevators open to a window-bright hallway and to a wall decorated with framed, enlarged street maps of various cities. The charcoal-tiled floor is offset with accent tiles bearing abstract designs.
Shopping: Harris Teeter is across the street. Giant and Safeway, in downtown Bethesda, are a five-minute drive, as are dozens of shops and restaurants, plus cinema, furnishings, car dealerships and commercial services. Bradley Shopping Center hosts Strosneiders Hardware, Breads Unlimited, Party & Variety, and Bradley Food and Beverage. Big Wheel Bikes is across the street.
Schools: Bethesda Elementary, Westland Middle, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High.
Transit: Stonehall is a short walk to Medical Center Metro station on the Red Line. One stop in the opposite direction, toward the District, Bethesda Metro station is 10 to 15 minutes on foot. Wisconsin Avenue is a block away and, going north, feeds into the Beltway and Interstate 95 toward Baltimore. The free Bethesda Circulator bus stops on Woodmont Avenue and is footsteps from the front door. It travels in a wide-ranging looping route into downtown Bethesda.
8302 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, Md.
There are 46 condominium units in the building, including two penthouses, ranging in price from $549,900 to $2,499,900.
Builder: Duball BW, an affiliate of Duball.
Features: Condos are assigned one parking space; those larger than 1,200 square feet are assigned two. Most units have a walkout balcony or terrace. The entry foyer floor is laid with designer tiles; living room and kitchen floors are premium hardwood. Kitchen appliances are Bosch stainless steel; faucet fixtures are by Kohler; the cooktop is gas; counters are Caesarstone quartz; and cabinetry is operated by soft-close hinges. There are custom floating vanities in the master bathrooms.
Bedrooms/bathrooms: 2 to 3 / 1 to 3
Square footage: 759 to 2,432
Condominium association fee: $525 to $1,720
View model: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Contact: Laura Henne at 301-327-4809 or visit liveatstonehall.com .