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Wall Park Garage Could Cost County $6 Million

By Aaron Kraut

Tuesday - 10/15/2013, 3:05pm  ET

Gables Residential sketch plan, via Montgomery County Planning Department Gables Residential sketch plan, via Montgomery County Planning Department Gables Residential sketch plan, via Montgomery County Planning Department

The developer of the property just north of the Shriver Aquatic Center in North Bethesda likely won’t build a garage open to Aquatic Center users without funding from Montgomery County.

Gables Residential, the Atlanta-based developer that will present its sketch plan to the Planning Board next week, says it would be willing to build a 400-space garage with access to Aquatic Center and Wall Park users in one phase with financial compensation.

The county wants to build a new Wall Park on the existing 250 surface parking lot spaces in front of the Aquatic Center (5900 Executive Blvd.). The park is envisioned as the central green space of White Flint, but it hinges on the county and developer’s ability to come up with a parking agreement.

A portion of the spaces in the garage would be reserved for the Gables development. Gables plans about 31,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and about 450 residential units spread over three buildings, stepping down in height from 68 feet at the realigned Executive Boulevard west toward a 36-foot tall building at Old Georgetown Road. The shared garage would be 54 feet.

The county’s Department of General Services has told Planning Department staff it believes it can find an agreeable solution. The estimated cost for the garage is $5 to $6 million, money which might be found by selling the land in the abandoned part of Executive Boulevard and the surface parking lot at the Bethesda North Conference Center.

But the county is still trying to acquire the land, which includes the VOB Saab and Chevy Chase Bank lots.

Even if the county reaches agreement with Gables on the funding and use of the garage, the project can not go forward until that land is purchased and Executive Boulevard is straightened. Part of the Gables development would be built on the existing road and requires a new street grid to be completed.

At a Montgomery Parks public meeting last month about the future of Wall Park, many expressed concern about access to the Aquatic Center without the surface lot.

The Planning Board will take up the sketch plan on Oct. 24.

Photos via Montgomery County Planning Board