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Yacht Club Proposed for Self-Storage Conversion in Bethesda, MD


Update on 4/15/13 – Members of the Woodmont Triangle Action Group recently voiced their approval for the proposed conversion, although some concerns were expressed about security and exclusivity to Bethesda residents. Some members also asked about including artwork in the space’s windows.

With the help of his attorneys, Jeff Randall also has written a “Zoning Text Amendment” that would allow a self-storage facility in a retail space downtown. The amendment includes a provision requiring an on-site loading dock, a feature Randall’s DoubleTree facility already has. Randall believes the requirement will prevent other properties from building self-storage facilities in basements or first-floor spaces. He hopes to have the amendment presented before Montgomery County Planning Board.

A hotel owner has proposed a plan to convert a former yacht club into a self-storage facility in downtown Bethesda, Md. The DoubleTree by Hilton chain took over the hotel portion of the former Yacht Club of Bethesda in 2006, but other areas of the building remain unused. The self-storage facility would cater to residents living in neighboring high-rise buildings that do not have ample storage space.

Jeff Randall, vice president of asset management for hotel owner Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, envisions about 55, 50-square-foot storage units in the basement space of the structure. He came up with the idea after he moved into a nearby apartment building and wound up using a spare bedroom for storage. He estimated the units would probably fill up from just 10 percent of the 600 residents in his building alone.

Randall presented his idea last week to the Woodmont Triangle Acting Group (WTAG), a local organization of residents, business and development representatives and officials from the Bethesda Urban Partnership. The group advises Montgomery County land-use officials and lawmakers on issues affecting Bethesda’s downtown district.

The hotel would not advertise the facility, Randall said. Instead, prospective tenants would learn about it through word-of-mouth. Customers would receive a keycard to the facility and be charged about $100 per month for a unit.

“You might frown on self-storage in Bethesda, but I would say this is not your typical self-storage,” Randall said, noting that other business ideas for the space, such as a restaurant, would likely prove too risky due to existing competition.

Encouraged by WTAG to move forward, Randall will seek a zoning change and approval from the Montgomery County Planning Board and the city council.


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