The owner of the DoubleTree Bethesda space once home to the Yacht Club of Bethesda wants to convert the property into a self-storage facility.
Jeff Randall, vice president of asset management for the firm that owns the hotel, says the property’s location and surrounding competition make another restaurant or bar venture too risky.
Randall presented his idea for a self-storage space geared toward residents of downtown Bethesda apartments on Friday morning at a meeting of the Woodmont Triangle Acting Group.
He is hoping for WTAG’s support. The group, made up of residents, business and development representatives and officials from the Bethesda Urban Partnership, advises Montgomery County land-use officials and policymakers on issues in downtown Bethesda.
Randall said he came up with the idea when he moved to the Palisades apartment building near the space, at 8111 Woodmont Ave., where there is also a back entrance to the DoubleTree.
He found one bedroom in his apartment quickly became a de facto storage space for him and his family, as the apartment does not offer self-storage. He estimated just 10 percent of the nearly 600 residents at the Palisades and Triangle Towers could fill the roughly 55 caged storage bins he wants to build in the basement space.
His company would not advertise the facility. All business would come through word of mouth. The facility would provide key cards to customers and would charge $100 a month. Randall envisioned people storing christmas lights, bikes or ski equipment in the cages, which at roughly 50 square feet each would not be large enough for furniture.
“You might frown on self-storage in Bethesda, but I would say this is not your typical self-storage,” Randall said. “Food and beverage there is I think a pretty high-risk endeavor given the location and the competition.”
While members of the WTAG liked the idea, there was a discussion of the zoning issue that remains. Randall must get a zoning text amendment to allow for it, meaning he’ll have to get the Montgomery County Planning Board and the County Council on board with a self-storage facility in a downtown area made up of restaurants, retail and apartments.
The Yacht Club opened in 1989 and closed in 2006 when DoubleTree took over the hotel space. In between, it earned quite a reputation. Owner Tommy “The Matchmaker” Curtis claimed he brought together 181 couples who frequented the venue, known around the area as perhaps the only place that catered exclusively to the over-30 and over-40 crowd.