Pharmacists Group Still Debating Apex Building Redevelopment

The Apex Building at 7272 Wisconsin Ave.The owner of the Apex Building is a few weeks away from knowing whether it will move forward with a redevelopment plan that would allow the state and county to build an optimal Bethesda Purple Line station below.

Attorney David Silver, who’s representing the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), said the group sent out a request for proposals for development projects and is now analyzing a number of responses.

To incentivize the ASHP to raze its building (7272 Wisconsin Ave.) the County Council approved a “mini-master plan” that would allow a new Apex Building to be built to 250 feet, the same height as the Chevy Chase Trust buildings near the Bethesda Metro.

“We’re a few weeks away from being in a place where we can discuss our intentions a little bit better,” Silver said. “We haven’t made a commitment either way yet.”

The additional height and density, which will be finalized when the Planning Board files a Sectional Map Amendment next week, still leaves the ASHP with major concerns.

The group of pharmacists has its headquarters in the Apex Building. The razing of it would mean it would have to find a new location. The group of tenants in the building is profitable, including the Regal Cinemas movie theater.

Silver said the ASHP has hired architects to analyze what sort of redevelopment might make sense. The group expressed concern about how an elevator connection to the Metro Red Line and Capital Crescent Trail bike tunnel could make the ground floor of the building difficult to use.

An outside study commissioned by the Planning Department said it would likely take between $5 and $10 million of public money to bridge the ASHP’s financial gap. Silver said Montgomery County officials have been in contact with him.

Both Montgomery County and the Maryland Transit Administration are pushing for a decision as soon as possible. The MTA is pitching the project to the federal government for $900 million of funding and would like to know which Bethesda Purple Line station to plan for.

The state and county say the default Purple Line station, to be built if the Apex Building isn’t razed, wouldn’t include space for a bike tunnel, would have a cramped, curved track platform and could mean tail tracks out into Woodmont Plaza.

Silver said the ASHP is mindful of time constraints, but has a significant decision of its own to make.

“It’s a huge decision. These guys are an association of pharmacists. They’ve got an operating business and only have had several months to focus on this,” Silver said. “They’ve hired all the right people — accountants, lawyers, real estate professionals, architects — to put themselves in the right position to analyze that. Not a day goes by that they’re not focused on it.”

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