USQ Developer Research: Bethesda Row

Bethesday Meeting

We had a great (but hot!) day at Bethesda Row yesterday. Federal Realty joined us for a tour to highlight how they turned a deteriorated neighborhood, full of surface parking lots, into a vibrant urban community.

There are a few particular things that stood out to us:

The architecture:

Bethesda Row is a development that includes several buildings, yet Federal Realty has done a nice job blending the existing buildings with the new. For instance, the Equinox site was an older brick building that Federal Realty renovated to include a new glass front that makes it look modern and fresh. Meanwhile, the new cinema was designed using a mixture of brick and stone in order to make it fit with the character of the older buildings, while still looking unique and clean. The use of varied materials and architecture help achieve a unique but cohesive feeling for this community.

The mix of uses:

The development is almost equally split—1/3 residential, 1/3 retail and 1/3 commercial space. But beyond that, the mix of retail is impressive. Federal has been able to integrate locally owned businesses like Ginger, Lou Lou and Redwood into an area that also includes anchor tenants like Apple. In some cases, like that of Blue Mercury, the success of their first shop at Bethesda Row has enabled the company to dramatically expand; Federal estimated they now have 60 other locations nationwide.

The placemaking:

In an area that is otherwise dependent on vehicular traffic, Bethesda Row was impressive for its large sidewalks and cafés. Recognizing that the surrounding area has fast-moving traffic, Federal integrated pedestrian alleyways into the development that are safe, vibrant and can be closed down entirely for special events. These events include art and fashion shows, cultural events and wine tastings—events that create a sense of place and bring the community together. Moreover, Federal used lighting and landscaping that make the development enjoyable for those who walk through.

Next on our tour is Chicago, where we will visit the Lakeshore East and University Village. Have questions for the US2 team? Leave comments below and we’ll be sure to ask developer! Follow along all week on the blog, or join the discussion live on Twitter at @SomerByDesign and #USQdev.


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