A Florida-based developer that has been buying up pieces of the Westbard Shopping Center in Bethesda will host two community meetings, hinting at a long rumored redevelopment of the area.
Equity One created a website called Westbard Vision and hired a Rockville-based public relations firm with experience representing developers. It will also hold community workshops on Jan. 29 and Feb. 1. According to the website, those workshops will allow the developer to “share our thinking to date and solicit comments from the community,” presumably about the redevelopment of the area.
The company specializes in retail shopping centers and over the past year has bought many of the key properties in Westbard, an area of strip malls, apartments, gas stations and office complexes along River Road and Westbard Avenue.
Earlier this year, Equity One bought Westwood Towers, Springhouse by Manor Care, Bowlmor Lanes and two Citgo stations. The developer says it will finalize the acquisition of Westwood Shopping Center and Westwood Center II early in 2014.
A long shelved Planning Department update of the 1982 Westbard Sector Plan is expected to begin in the next few years.
Without giving specifics, Equity One alluded to the prospect of redevelopment that is expected to come with the new Sector Plan:
Westwood Shopping Center and several of its neighboring properties were developed more than 50 years ago. Continued investment in these properties is essential to ensure that they remain integral parts of the surrounding Bethesda community for years to come. As we start to think about what type of investment makes sense, we want to ensure that this is a collaborative process involving stakeholders in the community. While we explore options for the properties, we intend to be guided by the following principles:
We work hard to engage with our neighbors through careful listening and discussion.
We believe each project we do is unique, created for its location and of singular value.
We design to create great, memorable places that people will embrace as part of their community.
We develop in a sustainable manner that benefits communities by preserving the environment and conserving our resources.
There aren’t yet times or locations listed for the two community workshops. Equity One says those details will be posted shortly.