Mount Rainier selects developer for former liquor store site -- Gazette.Net







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New stores and restaurants along with hundreds of new residential housing units may be headed to a former liquor store site in Mount Rainier, as the City Council approved a plan to develop the area at the Nov. 8 meeting.

Bethesda-based developer Streetsense and the company’s parters, Washington D.C.-based Neighborhood Development Co., will purchase from the city a 33,000-square-foot plot of land on the 3200 block of Rhode Island Avenue, the site of the former Bass Liquors. The developer plans to build a five-story mixed-use facility, which would have 18,000 square feet of ground-level retail and shopping, and 210 residential units.

Construction is expected to start on the project late next year and is estimated to be completed in 2015, said Guy Silverman, president of Streetsense.

The City Council approved the proposal in a 3-2 vote at its Nov. 8 council meeting.

Streetsense has already signed a deal to purchase land that sits adjacent to the development site to create more room for the project, officials said.

“We are absolutely thrilled,” Silverman said. “It’s been a long process, and the community and the council members were very involved. I think it was a good vetting, and we will deliver a good project.”

City officials sent out a call for proposals from developers in January with a May deadline. City officials were supposed to choose a developer in July, but extended the deadline to get more time to weigh their options.

In October, Prince George’s County offered to help the city get the project off the ground by offering $4 million in economic incentives to a developer, such as tax credits and a possible waiver of public safety and sewage service fees. But the money was contingent on the developer providing 200 residential units and 15,000 square feet of retail space, according to the county’s proposal.

Streetsense’s competitor, Baltimore-based AHC, proposed 141 residential units and 15,000 square feet of retail.

Officials at Med-Ped Health Care, which operates multiple health care centers in the county, proposed a plan to use the site for a four-story, 44,000-square-foot Health Care Center, but dropped their bid after county officials introduced their guidelines.

Councilman Bill Updike (Ward 1) said he chose Streetsense’s proposal because company officials already had a plan to purchase the nearby property.

“They had gone and acquired that lot and were able to put that all together,” he said. “Add that to the deep experience in retail that Streetsense has. If the retail fails, the whole thing fails, and having one of the strongest retail developers in the D.C. Metro area made me a little more comfortable about them.”

Councilwoman Ivy Thompson (Ward 2), who voted for the AHC proposal, said AHC’s project included high-quality residential units that the city currently does not have.

“Their vision matches from the beginning, in my opinion, what we had set out for from day one,” she said.

Andrew Vincent, director of AHC's Baltimore office, said he was disappointed about the outcome of the vote, but said he would still be interested in working with the city on other projects.

“We are developers, so we are always interested in other opportunities,” he said.