Montgomery County is in negotiations with the pharmacists trade group that owns the Apex Building, where the county and state would like to build a Bethesda Purple Line station that would require razing and redeveloping the structure.
County Director of Economic Development Steve Silverman said the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which owns the five-story office and retail building at 7272 Wisconsin Ave., has provided the county a redevelopment proposal that involves the sale of the building to a third party.
Silverman said the negotiations are sensitive and the county “would expect to be getting back to them after we’ve consulted with the state probably shortly after Labor Day.”
The ASHP is likely looking for county money to make up for the financial losses it’s expected to take for selling and moving out of the profitable building.
David Silver, the attorney representing the ASHP in the process, didn’t return multiple requests for comment and a representative for ASHP said that staff involved in the project weren’t in the office this week.
Montgomery County would prefer the building be razed, so the Maryland Transit Administration and its private concessionaire can build a more spacious Bethesda Purple Line station in the existing Capital Crescent Trail tunnel below.
The optimal Bethesda Purple Line station would include a separate tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue for bicyclists, an elevator connection to Metro’s Red Line on the same side of Elm Street and avoid having to build Purple Line tail tracks that extend as much as 100 feet into Woodmont Plaza.
To incentivize the ASHP to raze its building, the County Council approved a “mini-master plan” that would allow a new Apex Building to be built to 250 feet, the same height as the Chevy Chase Trust buildings near the Bethesda Metro.
But an outside consultant hired by the Planning Department concluded the increased density alone would not be enough to make up for the financial hit the ASHP would take by selling the building to a developer.
The ASHP could sustain tenant relocation and construction costs of up to $25 million, according to the consultant’s report released in September 2013. The property, which includes the the Regal 10 movie theater, is profitable and serves as the ASHP’s own headquarters.
The report said $5 million to $10 million of public money could be required to close the ASHP’s financial gap, but didn’t recommend a specific amount of money for the county to dole out.
Silverman said there’s been continued pressure from the MTA to come to a resolution on the Apex Building’s future. The state agency hopes to select a private concessionaire early next year to design, operate and build the 16-mile light rail with construction starting in late 2015.
“This has gone on for quite some time,” Silverman said. “It was a very complicated matter for the Apex Building owners to go through and we’re going to be wrapping up soon.”
Rendering via Montgomery County Planning Department