Sidewalk construction along St Elmo Avenue should be done by Monday and other streetscaping done in mid-August near the Bainbridge Bethesda apartment project.
After a Planning Board hearing on Thursday, Bainbridge will be allowed to start some move-ins at the long-delayed 200-unit building — despite an original site plan that mandated move-ins start only after all required streetscaping work is done.
The Board agreed with county planners who recommended the change. Bainbridge will be allowed to start move-ins for about 112 units on the first nine floors of the 17-floor building. The rest of the move-ins won’t be permitted until all the required sidewalk work around the site is finished.
Because of a six-month delay in the delivery of LED streetlights, the installation of streetlights won’t have to happen right away. The new requirement is that the streetlights go in within six months of final residential use and occupancy permits.
The apartment, nestled between Fairmont and St Elmo Avenues in Woodmont Triangle, has drawn scrutiny and faced delays because of claims of structural damage to an existing set of buildings next door. A next-door property owner won $3.2 million and another $3.5 million in legal fees after a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge determined Bainbridge’s construction contractors continued sheeting and shoring practices that they knew didn’t work.
Also, Bainbridge’s attorneys said a new Montgomery County mandate for energy saving LED streetlights caused another delay because of the six-month gap between the ordering and delivery of the lights.
Crews have completed the new brick sidewalk on the Fairmont Avenue side of the project and cleared up a number of lingering issues with the next-door property owner. For the past few weeks, brick sidewalk construction on the St Elmo Avenue side has meant bridges of wooden planks as the only access from street to business entrances.
During Friday’s lunch rush, crews poured concrete directly in front of Bangkok Garden (4906 St Elmo Ave.), leaving carry-out customers tip-toeing around an active work site.
Streetcaping work, such as installing streetlights and Bethesda’s standard red brick sidewalk design, are often included as requirements for approval of development projects.