A Bethesda-based developer wants to build 153 townhouses near the historic Grosvenor Mansion, where five years ago residents successfully fought off attempts by a private school to locate in one of the last remaining wooded areas along the I-270/Old Georgetown Road corridor.
Bethesda’s EYA and D.C.-based real estate investment firm Streetscape Partners submitted a site plan application in January and have been negotiating with the two nonprofits that are now on the 35-acre property — the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation and the Society of American Foresters.
The site plan application (see below) says the townhouse development will preserve roughly 12 acres of what has been identified as high-quality downcounty forest as Legacy Open Space.
In 2008, a group wishing to build an international private school called the Nations Academy called off its plans after vehement opposition from surrounding neighborhood groups. The school would have also had to delay its opening by a year to accomodate the Montgomery County Council’s decision to designate the 1928 Grosvenor Mansion as a historic resource, which the Council did in 2009.
Residents of the Wildwood Manor Citizens Association argued the planned 1,600 student campus with dorms for international students would have created too much traffic and disturbed the forest. The area is bordered by Grosvenor Lane to the north, Fleming Avenue to the west, the Beltway to the south and I-270 to the east.
The Society of American Foresters currently uses the mansion, a 14-bedroom house built by the Grosvenor family and purchased for $1.23 million in 1990.
EYA wants a Special Exception to raze a separate 22,000-square foot office building that houses the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation, remove a parking lot, relocate another parking lot to a location near 5410 Grosvenor Lane and reduce the total number of parking spaces from 144 to 95. Additional condominium units would be created for the Mansion (also known as Wild Acres) and its historic garage and caretaker’s house.
In its application, EYA’s attorney writes that the plan was well received by Montgomery County’s Historic Preservation Commission in two meetings last year.
Earlier this year, some individual residents of Wildwood Manor lost a fight against a rezoning of the Wildwood Medical Center (10401 Old Georgetown Rd.) that will allow for a new five-story, 58-unit apartment complex using the county’s Productivity Housing guidelines.
The Productivity Housing program requires 35 percent of the units (21 units) will be below the area-wide median income. The program is meant to provide for affordable housing in new projects in commercial or office zones.
EYA argues for the Grosvenor Mansion townhouse development because it would create residential infill development close to public transit, protect the Mansion, the Legacy Open Space forest and act upon a previously approved but never acted upon Special Exception for more office space on the property.
Streetscape Partners also partnered in Symphony Park, a development of 112 brownstone townhomes near the Strathmore Mansion on Rockville Pike that are fetching $2 to $3 million each.