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This fresh look at Downtown Bethesda serves as a twenty year checkup, to assess with the community what is great about Downtown Bethesda and what could be better. This is an opportunity for the community, property owners and business owners to refine the vision for a successful Downtown Bethesda. This also involves revisiting the current Plan’s recommendations. Plans address land use and density; urban design and character, open space, mobility, as well as environmental quality. The work on the Plan will be organized around three themes: social sustainability, economic sustainabiliy and environmental sustainability. We ask you all to join us in a shared commitment to: collaboration, creativity and integrity as we move forward together in our work. The forthcoming Bethesda Downtown Plan will update the 1994 Bethesda Central Business District Sector Plan and the 2006 Woodmont Triangle Amendment to that Sector Plan.

Watch a Video of the Plan Concepts Briefing !

The Plan Concepts Briefing was presented to the Planning Board on Thursday, December 11, 2014.

Tell us what you think using the online Feedback Loop. DEADLINE EXTENEDED to Thursday, December 25, 2014.

The purpose of the Feedback Loop is to help us get a general sense of the level of agreement in the community with the direction of the work on the plan concepts. Our goal is to make it simple and easy for all of you to participate at your own convenience: from your computer, smartphone, tablet or laptop. We have set up the Feedback Loop so you can focus on what matters most to you and answer a few questions or many, depending on your preferences. This is an informal way for us to hear from you as we move forward on the Staff Draft Plan.

Here are the slides from the presentation: Bethesda Downtown Plan Concepts:Planning Board Briefing 12.11.14.
Here is theFeedback Loop which also includes the slides.

Watch a Video of the Retail Study Briefing


The Plan Concepts are more detailed than the Draft Concept Framework Plan shown here
Draft Concept Framework Plan


See the Latest 'Properties Under Discussion' - Ideas for the Future

The 'Properties Under Discussion' map is about ideas for the longer term future for consideration as we do this sector plan update. We encourage you all to use this map and to continue communicating via e-mail, phone conversations and face to face meet-ups to confer, collaborate and find common ground as we move forward with work on the Sector Plan.  This map will be updated as we receive information from property owners.


map thumbnail

See What Projects are Already Moving Forward: Recent Approvals and Pending

This map, known as the "Development Finder" shows projects that are recently completed or are already moving forward through our Development Review process under the current 1994 Bethesda Central Business District Plan or the 2006 Woodmont Triangle Amendment to that plan. Note that there is a drop down menu where you can select what you would like to view, such as "Preliminary Plans", "Site Plans", or "Sketch Plans". They don't all show up on the map at the same time.


Video and Slides from the Property Owners' Presentations October 29

You can see the slides and video from the presentations on October 29, 2014 right here.

Slides Bethesda Downtown Plan Property Owners Forum


Happy Hour To Be Hosted By Local Firm SK&I in late January

This is the next in the series where we have been guests. It follows on the three Happy Hours held earlier in the year that were hosted in Downtown Bethesda by the Greater Greater Washington blog, the Congress for New Urbanism DC Chapter, Young Innovation Professional Planning Superstars (YIPPS) in DC, Young Leaders in Affordable Housing (network within the National Housing Conference), and most recently, Streetsense, JBG and Clarke Construction.This time, SK&I will be hosting. More to come on this.

Watch for the Staff Draft in April 2015

Presentation of the Staff Draft Plan to the Planning Board scheduled for April 2015.

The Planning Board holds a public hearing and worksessions on the Plan before.....

Transmittal of the Planning Board Draft Plan to the Montgomery County Council scheduled for later in 2015.

Bethesda Downtown Plan on Montgomery Plans

Find out the latest with the Bethesda Downtown Plan - hear from Area 1 Supervisor Marc DeOcampo about how you can get involved with the future of Downtown Bethesda. This segment is airing on CCM (County Cable Montgomery):

Listen to WAMU: 'Reimagining Bethesda'

Kojo Nnambi on the air

The following text is from the WAMU website:

"Kojo and architect and urban planner Roger Lewis chat with Montgomery County planning director Gwen Wright.

The changes that have been sweeping through neighborhoods throughout the District for the past two decades are also affecting life in the suburbs surrounding the city. Montgomery County is in the midst of updating its plan for Bethesda's central business district, a pocket of Maryland that's evolved into a dense, urban center. Kojo and architect and urban planner Roger Lewis chat with Gwen Wright, the county's planning director, about the effort to re-imagine Bethesda - and her vision for the rest of the county.


Gwen Wright, Planning Director, Montgomery County (Md.)

Roger Lewis - Architect; Columnist, "Shaping the City," Washington Post; and Professor Emeritus of Architecture, University of Maryland College Park"

Listen to the interview here.

What Are We Working On Now?

Tasks that are underway right now include the preparation of:

  • Concepts for each district showing what each could be like as change occurs. These take into consideration ideas and comments from the community, including owners of specfic properties, as well as the vision for the entire downtown.
  • Development Scenarios for transportation analysis to determine effects on walkers, transit users, bicyclists and drivers.
  • A Retail Study to get a sense of what type and amount of retail is likely to be competitive in various locations in the future.
  • An online "Feedback Loop" for us to hear your responses to draft recommendations (coming in late Fall.)

Downtown Bethesda as an EcoDistrict?

First Hill Streetcar Media ©Rendering by Mithun

This illustration of a design concept for First Hill Streetcar Line in Seattle shows a variety of features consistent with sustainable development objectives. This image is being used courtesy of Mithun which holds the copyright.

What is an EcoDistrict? - slides - (These are slides from a presentation originally scheduled for May 17, 2014 that will be rescheduled for a future time)

In short, an ecodistrict aims to integrate objectives of sustainable development and reduce an area's ecological footprint by setting ambitious levels of requirements. Each ecodistrict sets its own performance area goals, objectives, and strategies for maximizing sustainability. Most often, goals exceed local regulation and standards.

The Bethesda Downtown Plan Needs You!

Check out how you can get involved with the Planning Department's Bethesda Downtown Plan and help shape the future of the heart of Bethesda for the next 20 years!

Help Engage The Missing Millennials !

Did you know that:

  • 40 percent of the residents of Downtown Bethesda are Millennials (age 20-34)? >
  • 20 percent are Gen-X'ers?
  • 26 percent of the workers in Downtown Bethesda are under the age of 30?
  • 30 percent consider themselves to be of a "non-white" race?

So, we thank you for being involved and hope that you will help us engage the missing. We welcome your:

  • Insights and ideas;
  • Offers to host an activity;
  • Willingness to encourage others to sign up for the E-Mail List or come to a future event.

Letters and More

Letters: Your Thoughts and Concerns-This section is currently being updated 12/5/14.
Ideas and Images

How You Can Participate and Stay Connected...

  • Join our e-mail list
  • Follow us on Twitter: @bethesdaplanner #bethesdadowntownplan
  • Write to us at
  • Meet with us in our offices in Silver Spring, or in Bethesda, or at your own group's meeting. Contact us to schedule.
  • Come to public meetings, workshops and other outreach events


Let us know what you think


  • Leslye Howerton, Assoc. AIA, LEED-GA, Planner Coordinator, Area 1 301-495-4551
    Questions and to arrange a meeting with us
  • Marc DeOcampo, AIA, LEED-AP, Master Planner-Supervisor 301-495-4556
  • Margaret K. Rifkin, AICP, RLA, Outreach 301-495-4583
    Public Meetings, Website & Social Media Content
  • Laura Shipman, Urban Design 301-495-4558
  • Matt Folden, Transportation 301-495-4538
  • Tina Schneider, Environment 301-495-2101
  • Rachel Newhouse, Coordinator, Parks Department 301-650-4388

Last updated: December 22, 2014