Lionsgate Bethesda’s Mistakes – What can We Learn?

A longtime Downtown Bethesda resident, I’ve had mixed feelings about The Lionsgate Condominiums at Old Georgetown and Woodmont. It never had “room to breathe” for one thing.  Its tight proximity to commercial/residential buildings on one side and a garage on the other made the The Lionsgate “less urban village”, and more a towering mediocrity.

– Maybe it’s the “miniature” balconies
**note to developers – yes, you can “sell” outside space!

– Maybe it was the lack of 2000 sq ft.+ units — again, a product in downtown Bethesda I know people are crying for…but even writing this, The Lionsgate frustrates the h#ll out of me…

Developers in The Gulf Coast & Madison:  They “Get It”

It seems developers in other areas of the countries “get it” – from oceanfront Gulf Shores condos to lakefront Madison condos … and beyond, the developers understand — build them big, and build them with adequate balcony space.

I know Downtown Bethesda isn’t the Gulf Coast or the lakes of Madison Wisconsin (Bethesda with a water view..hmmm!), but what all locations have in common is the concept of product comprehension — how, in this context, large condos will increasingly attract baby boomers who want to move down without sacrificing every amenity of single family home living (that’s square footage and balcony space just to make sure we’re clear!).

So this is my story and I’m sticking to it…in my humble opinion, The Lionsgate, in many ways, stands for what Bethesda condos need to strive to NOT be in the future, even when market conditions improve.

What Inspired My Lionsgate Bashing : – )

I received an e-mail today from The Lionsgate sales department today…last chance to pick up the last penthouse unit in the building. But take a peak at some of the “concessions”

“For those who’ve always dreamed of living in a luxurious penthouse, your time is running out. We now have only one remaining on our top floor—the Rodin. This two bedroom, 1580 square foot customizable floor plan already has high-end finishes throughout and stunning views of the bustling downtown Bethesda streets below, and now Lionsgate is willing to invest in additional floor plan changes and upgrades. Prices on this floor plan have recently been adjusted to under $1.2M….”

Did you see what I saw?  Willing to make changes to the floor plan?

Can Bethesda Learn From The Lionsgate & This Challenging Market

I know this is a tough market so it’s really hard to say “I told you so”…but in the same sense, this difficult market teaches us all some valuable lessons.  In this specific case, the Lionsgate is willing to change the floor plan because this market doesn’t allow “okay”, it demands something closer to perfection.

More importantly, I hope this market has taught (or will teach) developers, homebuilders, and Realtors (listing agents in this context), to listen, research, and listen some more. If we do this, perhaps we’ll be able to better answer this not so simple question — “what do home buyers want?”.

**Over 2000 sq. ft. & large balconies – just wanted to get that in one more time!