As part of Montgomery County, MD’s Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan deliberations, Brookfield sought to gain approval for its plans to transform Bethesda Metro Center into a welcoming gathering place. Plans included a large Central Park, outdoor retail promenades, improved Metro bus bays and a world-class office building. A unique aspect of the plan was the strong commitment to incorporating the work of local as well as international artists and performers throughout the site. However, the company’s proposal drew strong opposition from a neighboring corporation, whose headquarters were located nearby.
Chesapeake was retained by Brookfield to develop an outreach strategy to gain support for the redevelopment plans and counter the negative campaign mounted by the opposing corporation. We chose to maintain a positive, upbeat approach throughout the campaign and did not engage with opposition messaging. Our multi-faceted campaign included direct mail, a strong digital and social media presence, media outreach and continual communications with the community through emails, event sponsorships and canvassing at the Bethesda Metro station. We produced a series of 45-second videos discussing the various aspects of the proposal to clarify areas of confusion. And when Brookfield partnered with the Bethesda Urban Partnership to commission a mural at the Metro station, Chesapeake organized a “Meet the Artist” outdoor lunch that drew hundreds of people and greatly increased our supporter base.
Residents and local commuters sent more than 300 letters of support to the Planning Board and County Council, while another 250 signed a petition urging the Council to support Brookfield’s plans. As a result, Brookfield’s plans for Bethesda Metro Center received approval from the Planning Board and Montgomery County Council.