Downtown Bethesda building demolition plans move forward

ROCKVILLE, Md. — A plan is moving forward in Montgomery County to demolish a modest-sized office building and replace it with three of the tallest buildings in downtown Bethesda — each 25 stories or higher. The Bethesda Purple Line rail station would be built beneath the towers.

The Montgomery County Council Committee on Planning, Housing and Economic Development has voted to recommend that the council approve $8 million to help Carr Properties buy out the leases in its Apex building, at Wisconsin Avenue and Elm Street. The four-level building currently houses the American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists and Regal Cinemas.

“So we’re good to go,” announced committee chair Nancy Floreen with a rap of the gavel, sending the funding request onto the full council.

Carr plans to tear down the building and replace it with two residential towers and an office building. The county council has given Carr approval to build at least 250 feet high and could amend that to 290 feet.

“We had long ago committed to this effort and now we’re dealing with the details for how this gets done,” Floreen said in a news briefing.

In exchange for the right to construct the soaring buildings, Carr has agreed to build the Purple Line station beneath the towers and a nearby tunnel to accommodate the Capital Crescent Trail. The redevelopment is two blocks south of the Bethesda Metro station, and would link the Purple Line to Metro.

“Bethesda is really the economic engine of Montgomery County,” Floreen said.

The Apex building is expected to be demolished next spring. Other development in downtown Bethesda will make room for Marriott International, which plans to move its headquarters to downtown Bethesda by 2022.

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