County officials hope a nine-story, 220,000-square-foot Class A office building under construction in downtown Bethesda is the sign of an economic turnaround and a move back toward development other than apartment or residential.
“We’ve had great success over the last few years, despite the recession, on residential property. One of the challenges we’ve had is building office space. To have this space at this location at this time, to have a $100 million investment right here says a great deal about the confidence of the team that you’ve assembled,” County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) told attendees of a groundbreaking ceremony for the building today (Thursday). “It says a great deal about this particular location. But it also says a great deal about this county.”
The office building, developed by Transwestern and Carr Properties, is at 4500 East-West Highway, the site of the recently shuttered McDonald’s frequented by Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School students.
A new McDonald’s is planned to take some of the 13,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. Developers lauded the project, which will include an expansive rooftop terrace, green roof and bike storage area, as an attractive and environmentally-friendly future landmark in Bethesda.
It will feature views of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center tower to the north, the Washington National Cathedral to the south and downtown Bethesda to the west.
Leggett and County Department of Economic Development Director Steve Silverman also see it as a huge step toward recovering from the recession.
It is the only large scale new office building in the pipeline for Bethesda, which has seen an explosion of apartment and condominium development but is lagging in attracting jobs. (The 7550 Wisconsin Ave. project is a conversion of a Class C office building to Class A.)
Silverman said Montgomery County has lost 7,000 construction jobs in the last five years. He also said his department is working with Transwestern to find tenants for the building.
“This is an absolutely critical building and project for Montgomery County,” Silverman said. “Even though we’re in a better place than other jurisdictions around the country, we still have a long way to go to be able to put people back to work in this county.”
D.C.-based Carr Properties expects construction to be complete in June of 2014.