Rendering of proposed apartments along Arlington Road in Bethesda. Credit: VIA ZOM LIVING

The Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday signed off on a plan to put an apartment complex of up to 235 units on the block across from the Bethesda Elementary School fields.

The ZOM Bethesda apartment project is the first to seek square footage from the “bank” of building density recently created by the county for the Bethesda area. The developer would need to add some of this density to the project site to pull off plans for a roughly 258,000-square-foot apartment building, planning staff members said.

An initial estimate shows the developer might pay about $1.7 million for the square footage, money that would go into a parks fund for downtown Bethesda.

The bank of about 5.3 million square feet of building density is available to developers across the Bethesda area in exchange for a fee. By buying density from the pool, developers can increase the size of the building they’re allowed to put on a particular property.

The proposed six-story apartment building along the 7500 block of Arlington Road would replace a row of eight single-family homes used as professional offices. Its height will be capped at 60 feet, a limit requested by nearby residents.

“We’ve come a long way in working with our neighbors,” land-use attorney Heather Dlhopolsky told the planning board.


Planning staff members received letters of support for the project from Bethesda residents and the Christopher Condominium community on Moorland Lane. They said they haven’t gotten any negative feedback.

The planning board unanimously approved the project sketch plan.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at