A map of the road realignment Credit: via Regency Centers

Crews this weekend are set to begin work on “realigning” two roads in the Westbard neighborhood of Bethesda, with work expected to span more than a year.

The realignment of Westbard Avenue so that it directly connects with River Road is part of the redevelopment of the Westwood Shopping Center, which began this year and will bring new shops, apartments, townhomes and a senior living facility.

The road realignment, required as part of the Montgomery County sector plan for the area, will create a “smoother transition” from River Road onto Westbard Avenue, according to Sam Stiebel, vice president of investments for Regency Centers, the company leading the redevelopment project.

It will eliminate the existing intersection at Ridgefield Road and Westbard Avenue.

Work is expected to begin Sunday, he said, though some work has been done to prepare the site for construction. Ridgefield Road is expected to be closed for 16 months, Stiebel said.

The county’s sector plan, passed in 2016 and which sets certain requirements for future development in the area, says Westbard Avenue is to be “reconfigured to tie directly to River Road with a right-angled intersection, instead of teeing into Ridgefield Road.”

“This reconfiguration would create a Westbard Avenue extended that would connect directly with River Road,” the plan says.

Stiebel said the realignment work includes moving some power lines underground and adjusting some water and sewer lines.

The work is expected to be done in late 2023.

As work is done on the roads, construction is also expected to start soon on the senior living facility, which will have about 115 units, according to project plans. It will be completed by the summer of 2024.

Regency first proposed in 2019 that the structure be an apartment building, but it amended project plans in mid-2020 to instead construct a senior living facility.

The first phase of the project, underway now and also expected to be completed in late 2023, includes building a new Giant grocery store, shops, restaurants and parking in the existing lot near the former RiteAid.

The ground level of the building will have about 29,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

The second floor will have more retail, as well as office space (targeting boutique fitness and medical services). The third floor will have the new, 70,000-square-foot Giant store. The existing grocery store will continue to operate during construction of the new facility. It will be closed and demolished for redevelopment during the second phase of the project.

The second phase will include construction of a large open space and a park. It will also include about 200 apartments, townhomes and more shops and restaurants.

The entire project is expected to be done in 2027, according to project plans.

Stiebel said there’s “nothing to announce quite yet” about possible tenants in the finished project.

The project is notably different from one proposed in 2016 by Equity One, which included nearly 2 million square feet of development, several big box stores and more than 800 homes.

Regency merged with Equity One in 2017.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

Caitlynn Peetz

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com