Westwood Apartments Statement


In 1997, as part of its mission to provide affordable housing throughout Montgomery County, HOC executed a lease with an option to purchase the Westwood Tower property in Bethesda. This lease allows HOC to maintain and enhance affordable housing in this part of the County. Over the  past  several years, the Westbard community, including the Westwood Tower property, has undergone a County-sponsored master plan review process that impacts long- term development plans for the neighborhood. As part of that process, HOC considered future options for redeveloping the site.

Over the last three months, members of the Macedonia Baptist Church and other groups concerned with the history of the property have protested, distributed press releases and petitions, and testified at the Housing Opportunities Commission (Montgomery County) monthly meeting, demanding that the Commission consider and vote on the following two issues:

Allow us to initiate research into the delineation of the River Road African Cemetery—that is currently buried under HOC’s existing parking lot on River Road; and

Officially recognize that the River Road African Cemetery takes precedence over HOC’s plans to build a parking garage and housing units on top of this sacred and historic site —the final resting place of 1st generation free Africans in the US.

While the Commission is sympathetic to the concerns raised, it cannot make any statements on  the  matter  at  this  time  due  to  a  pending  lawsuit  involving  the property, except to explain that at present, and for the foreseeable future,  the Commission has no plan to develop the property. The Commission intends to purchase Westwood Tower and operate it in its current state.  In keeping with the master plan process for this property, the Commission will conduct a study should it decide to move forward with any development on the site.

Due to the pending litigation, however, the Commission will make no further public statements on these matters.


HOC’s History of Involvement with Westwood Towers


March 1997: HOC initiates a master lease with an option to purchase – the purchase has not yet been executed - the Westwood Tower property to provide affordable housing to low- and moderate-income households

2013: Equity One acquires Westwood Tower

December 2014: First briefing on Westbard Sector Plan is presented to the Planning Board

March 2016: Revised Westbard Sector Plan is adopted

August 2016: Montgomery County Planning Department begins meetings to discuss Equity One Sketch Plan application

December 2016: Equity One and Planning Department propose to commission and fund a historical and archaeological study of Westbard cemetery site Planning Department delays the study pending availability of a firm preferred by members of the Macedonia Baptist Church and other groups

March 2017: Regency Centers acquires all of Equity One’s holdings including Westwood Towers

April 2017: Firm preferred by some members of the Westbard community becomes available and work on the study begins Study delayed as Westbard community members seek Montgomery County funding for a peer review of the historical and archaeological study results.

May 2017: County sponsored mediation begins between Montgomery County government, the Planning Department, Regency Centers, HOC, and interested parties from the Westbard community including Macedonia Baptist Church

June 2017: Second mediation session is held

July 2017: HOC is added as a defendant in Westbard Sector Plan lawsuit

September 2017: The Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County terminates the mediation process after being unable to set a meeting date that accommodates schedules for the key parties