APEX Building Owner Hoping to Revive Deal with County to Raze Building
Recent media reports that Montgomery County is no longer looking to purchase and then raze the APEX Building in Bethesda to make way for the proposed Purple Line station came as a surprise to the attorney representing the building’s owners.
David Simon, attorney for American Society of Health‑System Pharmacists which owns the building at 7272 Wisconsin Ave. told MyMCMedia Friday, he is “disappointed” by the comments recently published in the Washington Post.
“We are in discussion now with the county to try to put it back together,” Simon said.
The county and the APEX owners had been working on a deal that would allow the county to buy the building and then raze it allowing for a larger station to be built along with a separate bicycle tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue. The building now includes tenants the Regal Bethesda 10 movie theater, the Food Wine & Co. restaurant and the For Eyes optical store.
“After pushing so hard and spending so much money to find a solution to say it was rejected without providing a counter… yes it is disappointing,” Simon said.
The purpose of the station plan is to facilitate the construction of a better western terminus for the 14-mile Purple Line and to maintain a tunnel connection beneath Wisconsin Avenue for the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT). This would be done by providing a series of incentives—including higher zoning—to encourage the property owner of the Apex Building at the southwest corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Elm Street to raze the building and to construct a new building over the station and relocated trail.
Montgomery County Planner Elza Hisel-McCoy said the alternate plan that does not raze the APEX building would require an exhaust tower for the station that is expected to be taller than the buildings surrounding it to be built outside of the tunnel. Without the redevelopment of the APEX building, the Capital Crescent Trail would also have to use a surface route instead of having a tunnel route in Bethesda, Hisel-McCoy said.
“The minor master plan amendment was approved last year to allow additional development to try to incentivize a private developer to partner with the APEX folks. We were asked to do the master plan amendment to create an opportunity. We did that. The rest is negotiations that we aren’t a party to,” Hisel-McCoy said.
Montgomery County Spokesman Patrick Lacefield said the county believed the cost associated with the deal the APEX building to total nearly $70 million.
“The problem is the price tag,” Lacefield said Monday. “For what we would get out of it, it is too much money.”
That total estimated cost includes the price of the building of about $28 million; the carrying costs of about $25 million; the tax abatement cost of about $3.5 million and the cost to build the Capital Crescent Trail relocation which is estimated between $15 and $30 million, according to Lacefield.
“The $70 million number came from them,” Lacefield said.
Lacefield could not immediately say whether the county and building owners have reopened their talks.