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Bethesda Beat: Major Redevelopment Plan in the Works for Properties Near Twinbrook Metro Station

Proposal could call for 10 mixed-use buildings, theater, open space along Rockville Pike

Several blocks of drab retail buildings near the Twinbrook Metro station in Rockville are due for a transformation into a “destination location” with stores, restaurants and up to 1,865 apartments or condos, according to an early redevelopment proposal.

The City of Rockville this month received a letter outlining the vision for a new neighborhood with 10 mixed-use buildings, a promenade and new streets on the 18-acre site near the intersection of Rockville Pike and Halpine Road.

The bundle of six properties—with addresses from 1500 to 1616 Rockville Pike—is now home to scattered commercial businesses, including Party City, CVS and Sheffield Furniture. A Bethesda-based company wants to turn it into a community hub where people can watch movies, buy fresh produce and listen to live music.

“This dramatic redevelopment project is poised to create a world-class transit-oriented development … in the City of Rockville,” stated the Aug. 11 letter written by legal representatives of Saul Holdings Limited Partnership.

The buildings proposed for the Twinbrook Metro Place site would range from 20 to 180 feet high. They would provide multifamily housing, more than 431,000 square feet for offices and about 472,950 square feet for retail, restaurants and grocery stores.

The early plans also call for a roughly 9,000-square-foot theater and mention the potential for a 226-seat entertainment space that would serve as “a cultural amenity to the community.”

The redevelopment could include a landscaped pedestrian promenade running along Rockville Pike and a central park area could accommodate farmers’ markets, festivals and live music performances, according to the project description. At the center of the project would stand a two-story “signature building” featuring outdoor dining terraces that would overlook the park.

“It will be an important building because it is in the ‘center of the action,’” stated the letter signed by land-use attorneys at Linowes and Blocher.

The letter cautions that Saul Holdings wants freedom to adjust the plans as the project moves forward.

The company also will ask city officials to grant the project “champion” status under the Rockville Pike Neighborhood Plan adopted last year. The designation would free the property owners from the obligation to provide an access road along Rockville Pike.

To become a champion project, a development must be situated in the South Pike, contain at least five contiguous acres and advance city goals to expand multifamily housing options, increase mobility or add public space.

From Rockville's Pike Neighborhood Plan: A typical section of how the Rockville Pike multi-way boulevard could look. Saul Holdings is seeking to exempt the Twinbrook Metro Place project from the access road requirement. Via City of Rockville

Rockville officials several years ago approved a proposal for building multifamily homes, a hotel, and employment and retail space on portions of the site along Rockville Pike. However, applicants abandoned the plans so they could work on a larger, more comprehensive project, according to the letter.

Saul Holdings is set to discuss the proposal at a community meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Hilton at 1750 Rockville Pike.

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