The downtown property owner opposed to a new high-rise above the Bethesda Metro station is hosting an Earth Day celebration near the spot to promote its own pitch for a park. Clark Enterprises, the construction giant behind the push for a Bethesda Metro Park, will have bocce, corn hole, ping pong, music and free food out on the Metro Plaza from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. as a way to show what the space could be if permanently made into a park. But Metro Plaza neighbor Brookfield Office Properties actually owns the ground lease for the spot and is pitching its own idea. Brookfield hopes to build a new office or residential tower above the Metro station with a 10,000-square-foot park on the opposite side of the structure farther from the street. Clark and Brookfield have been fighting a public relations battle on the Metro Plaza for months, with each trying to rally community support so county planners include their vision in the Bethesda Downtown Plan. It’s not the first time Clark Enterprises, which has its corporate headquarters at 7500 Old Georgetown Road, has fought a proposed building on top of the Metro Plaza. In 2006, the previous owner of 3 Bethesda Metro Center proposed a 20-story condominium that was later revised to a 16-story office building known as 4 Bethesda Metro Center. In a rare public spat between developers, Plaza neighbors Clark Enterprises, Chevy Chase Land Company and Chevy Chase Bank all fought the proposal, claiming it would ruin views from their buildings and hurt any chance at improving the public space. The Planning Board killed the proposal in 2008. In 2011, Brookfield bought the property from Meridian, the previous owner, for $150.1 million with the intention to develop another building on the Plaza. The Bethesda Downtown Plan could make it easier for Brookfield to develop that building. So Clark Enterprises hired Bethesda Row architect David Kitchens to come up with a proposal for a large, green open space right at the corner of Old Georgetown Road and Wisconsin Avenue. Brookfield’s park would be built away from the intersection. “As envisioned, Bethesda Metro Park would be more than twice the size of the green space that’s part of a proposal to build another large building on the plaza,” read a Facebook post on the Bethesda Metro Park page backed by Clark. The post advertising the Earth Day event features people playing bocce and a girl eating ice cream. It also promises an Earth Day gift for stopping by.
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