Montgomery still trying to budge Apex Building -- Gazette.Net







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The Montgomery Planning Board on Thursday unanimously approved a measure meant to encourage what the county considers the ideal Bethesda Purple Line station.

The measure — which is formally known as the Bethesda Purple Line Station Minor Master Plan Amendment — has been bouncing around between the Montgomery Planning Department, the County Council and the county executive’s office in draft form. The County Council made a few changes to the draft and approved it Feb. 11; the Planning Board’s Thursday vote approved those changes.

The measure now goes to the full Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission for its approval.

The amendment includes zoning changes planners hope will persuade the owners of the Apex Building at 7272 Wisconsin Ave. to redevelop in such a way that will make room for a larger Purple Line Station.

When the building was constructed, the station for the Purple Line was smaller, according to a Planning Department report. Since then, designers have said they want a larger station that can better accommodate expected growth, but that would require tearing down the Apex Building. The American Society of Health System Pharmacists, which owns the building, has not yet said whether it plans to redevelop the property.

A Planning Department official has said the government may use eminent domain to take the building if negotiations with the society fail.

Construction on the Purple Line is expected to begin by the end of 2015, according to Planning Department documents.