Another downtown Bethesda gas station is on the way out, this time to make way for a one-story TD Bank branch in the middle of what is supposed to be one of Montgomery County’s prime smart growth hubs.
Attorney Chris Ruhlen, from Bethesda-based Lerch, Early and Brewer, on Thursday presented plans for the bank at 7628 Old Georgetown Rd., site of the Shell gas station.
The property is less than a quarter-mile from the Bethesda Metro station, surrounded by mid-rise office buildings and high-rise residential, but Ruhlen said the site is too small and its zoning too light to allow for anything similar.
The zoning was last updated in the 1994 Bethesda Central Business District Sector Plan. The Planning Department is beginning a Sector Plan rewrite this summer, but that process is expected to take two or three years to complete.
So TD Bank will seek approval for a 2,800-square-foot bank with a remote drive-through ATM and about nine parking spots. The roughly 12,000-square-foot site also includes the single family house on Moorland Lane that is used as an office building.
Ruhlen also said the Sector Plan calls for a stretch of low-density buildings along that section of Old Georgetown Road, even though the property is surrounded by a mid-rise office building, 11-story luxury condo, 14-story apartment building, parking garage and, soon, a 17-story luxury condo.
The preliminary and site plans will go to the Planning Department in the next few weeks. It will take about 15 months to get through the Planning Department process. Once all approvals are acquired, Shell will have 90 days to tear down the station and remove the underground gas tanks.
That will leave three gas stations in downtown Bethesda. There are projects either in the pipeline or under construction on three former gas station sites. On Tuesday, a developer presented plans for an apartment on a fourth.