Bethesda developer chosen to build new police station -- Gazette.Net


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Montgomery County has selected Bethesda-based developer StonebridgeCarras to build the new 2nd District Police Station in downtown Bethesda, and in exchange it will be able to redevelop the old one.

This marks the second attempt to replace the current police station at 7359 Wisconsin Ave., which was built in 1961 and needs nearly $200,000 in repairs, according to the county’s Office of Planning and Development.

Originally a new station was planned for the corner of Cordell and Wisconsin avenues, to be built by Chevy Chase developer JBG Cos., but that deal fell through in November 2012. JBG backed out of the land swap after it failed to obtain all the land it needed.

The county issued a new Request for Qualifications and Developments Proposals earlier this year to kickstart the process again.

The new police station is slated for 4823 Rugby Ave., near Del Ray Avenue.

Before the deal can be finalized, the County Council has to approve disposing of the current Wisconsin Avenue property, said Greg Ossont, the Department of General Services’s deputy director.

First, County Executive Isiah Leggett will declare the county has no further need of the parcel, which will be printed in the county registry, he said. Then there will be a comment period and possibly a public hearing.

“Then the council will approve that property disposition. We can’t move forward until they approve of the disposition,” Ossont said, adding he does not anticipate any problems.

The county has budgeted $9.25 million for the new 24-hour police station, according to county documents, but that may change as the project is finalized, Ossont said.

The new facility must have secured parking, a detention area and special entrances for transporting those in custody, he said.

“There are a lot of security concerns. It’s also a public facility so it has to have good access from the street,” Ossont said.

Once StonebrideCarras has designed and built a new police station in the Central Business District, “we will move in and then we will turn over the existing building,” he said.

Doug Firstenberg, a principal with Stonebridge/Carras, said the company has not yet decided what it will build on the Wisconsin Avenue site.

“We’ve looked at hotel, we’ve looked at residential, we’ve looked at office space,” Firstenberg said. “It’s just a great corner. But we have to build the station first.”

If all the paperwork is done by the end of this year, then design and pre-construction can take place in 2014 and the project can be finished by the end of 2015, Firstenberg said.

StonebridgeCarras has several other projects in the works in Bethesda, including a mixed-use project at 8300 Wisconsin Ave. that will have a 50,000-square-foot Harris Teeter grocery store and 359 apartments above.

The developer is also turning the former parking lot on Bethesda Avenue, known as Lot 31, into two mixed-used buildings — The Darcy and The Flats. The Darcy is a nine-story luxury building with 88 condos, and the Flats will have 162 rental apartments; both are expected to be completed midway through 2014.

ablum@gazette.net