BETHESDA — With high-rise buildings slowly popping up in the Woodmont Triangle area of Downtown Bethesda, business owners said they are optimistic about the future of local commerce in the area.
“As a business owner, I take it as a positive,” said Anil Kumar, owner of Bethesda Curry Kitchen on Cordell Avenue which opened in 2014. “We’ve already seen a steady increase in business,” he added referring to the already existing high-rises in the area.
Kumar, whose restaurant is located in a one-story building across from a large high rise, said he only knows of the surrounding development by word of mouth and the publicly-posted “development applications.”
In 2006, the Montgomery County Council approved the ‘Bethesda CBD’ plan to redevelop a portion of Bethesda at the junction of Old Georgetown Road and Woodmont Avenue. The Council updated the plan as part of the ‘Bethesda Downtown Plan’ in 2017.
The plan includes building a series of high-rise buildings along Norfolk, Del Ray, Cordell, Fairmont and St. Elmo’s Avenues with street-level retail space on the ground floors.
Yeshi Tsige owns the Norfolk Mini Mart, and explained the increase in population will benefit businesses but also voiced environmental concerns with high-rise buildings.
“There are too many buildings and the wind has to find a way to pass through,” she said. “The wind speed will be very high in such a densely populated area,” Tsige said.
“With Fox [WTTG] moving in, I think people will start looking at this area once again,” said Mike Fischer, who works at Cannon Upholstery on Cordell Avenue.
Fischer explained the future development of the area would increase rent prices and force small businesses to relocate. He added the owners of Cannon Upholstery were forced to move from a previous location on Hamden Lane when the building at that location was torn down and replaced by a high-rise condominium.
Judith Carrig, the co-owner of Capital Consignment, a consignment store on Cordell Ave said she hopes Bethesda will retain “it’s ‘mom-and-pop’ character” and “more balance” in the process.
As a supporter of incorporating Bethesda as a city, Carrig explained that she would like to see more local input into the development plans.
“We need more local [residents] to run for office because the County makes the decision for us.”