This story was updated at 10:05 a.m. Dec. 10, 2013.
A proposal for how the Purple Line will fit into downtown Bethesda is headed to the County Council for consideration.
The Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday approved its draft plan to incorporate a station in downtown Bethesda for the Purple Line, a planned 16-mile light rail that would link Bethesda and New Carrollton. The draft plan includes two possible station variations: a preferred plan if the owner of the Apex building at 7272 Wisconsin Ave., where the station is planned to go, agrees to redevelop the building, and a default plan if the owner does not agree to redevelop.
The Maryland Transit Administration has said it needs to know by the end of the year whether the Apex building can be torn down and rebuilt or whether engineers will have to work around it, The Gazette previously reported. Representatives from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which owns the Apex building, have said that doesn’t leave them with enough time to do their due diligence.
The Planning Board’s draft plan seeks to sweeten the deal for the society to tear down the Apex building by allowing more density if it does redevelop. The draft plan recommends rezoning the building’s property to allow a maximum height of 250 feet if it does redevelop to include space for the preferred Purple Line station design. If Apex does not redevelop now and Purple Line planners have to go with the default station design, the building could only redevelop up to 200 feet, according to the draft plan.
The county could try to take the property by eminent domain, but that would take too long to meet the timetable of state and federal agencies, The Gazette previously reported.
The County Council has scheduled a public hearing on the draft plan at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14, 2014, in the Council Hearing Room at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. To testify, sign up by calling 240-777-7803 by 10 a.m. the day of the hearing.
To see the draft plan for the Bethesda Purple Line station, visit montgomeryplanning.org/community/bethesda_purple_line.