The mission of the Bethesda Urban Partnership is to create an environment in which downtown businesses and residents can thrive and prosper.
FROM 2023/20224 BOARD CHAIR MARIAN BLOCK
I am honored to serve as Chair of the Bethesda Urban Partnership Board of Directors, an organization I have had the pleasure of being a part of for many years. As I assume the position for the July 2023 - June 2024 term, I would like to thank our community for its continued support of downtown Bethesda. As a resident of downtown Bethesda, I welcome the opportunity to lead an organization that focuses on the downtown’s livability, walkability, public spaces, great restaurants and shops, cultural programming and more.
As a team, we are dedicated to promoting Bethesda’s terrific amenities, while also supporting and marketing our local business community. The people, well-manicured streetscapes, unique restaurants, favorite retailers, arts venues and more, in addition to the superb location in the Greater Washington, D.C. area, continue to make Bethesda the ideal location to live, work, play and do business.
Our Board has produced our next five-year Strategic Plan which was written with valuable feedback from visitors, business owners, employers and developers. Input from the community at-large as well as comments from our Board and staff informed our goals for the next five years, and has positioned BUP and downtown Bethesda for the future.
Bethesda’s culturally rich community, designated as a Maryland Arts & Entertainment District, is one of the many reasons residents, visitors and developers alike come to downtown Bethesda. We have had the opportunity, along with our valued corporate partners and Montgomery County, to install several new public art murals throughout downtown Bethesda as part of our “Paint the Town” program. These projects provide color, vibrancy and original art to enliven our downtown landscape, and we look forward to bringing new public art to our downtown in the coming year.
The future continues to look bright as new projects are completed, and new businesses and residences open. Recent additions to downtown Bethesda include the new Marriott International headquarters and hotel as well as the AC Hotel and Avocet Tower.
I am grateful to have the privilege of working alongside the BUP team and my Board colleagues as we remain dedicated to maintaining, supporting and promoting all that Bethesda has to offer. As Chair, I look forward to another successful year working with our constituents and fulfilling our best strategic vision for downtown Bethesda’s future.
Bethesda Urban Partnership, Inc.
Operations & Funding
Established by Montgomery County in 1994, Bethesda Urban Partnership, Inc. (BUP) is a downtown management organization that maintains and markets downtown Bethesda. The organization was developed to promote downtown Bethesda as a desirable place to live, work and visit as well as foster a community that features restaurants, retailers, arts venues and more.
The BUP team includes more than 30 employees working in marketing, maintenance, mobility and administration who produce cultural events and community festivals and attend to landscaping and maintenance needs. BUP also manages Bethesda Transportation Solutions (BTS), the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District, and the Bethesda Circulator as well as the non-profit art spaces, Gallery B, Studio B and the Triangle Art Studios.
BUP is operated by an 11-member Board of Directors comprising residents, businesses and developers appointed by the County Executive. The organization is funded primarily by revenue generated from the Bethesda Parking Lot District fees, in addition to the commercial Urban District property tax. Private sponsors partner with BUP on events such as Taste of Bethesda and the Bethesda Fine Arts Festival.
Bethesda’s sidewalks, streets and flowerbeds are meticulously maintained by the 14-person BUP maintenance team. Throughout the week the team manages trash removal, cleans and repairs streets, trims trees, maintains 188,000 square feet of turf and more.
Throughout the year the team plants 32,000 flowers, landscaping the flowerbeds and large sidewalk pots with seasonal blooms. The dedicated team is also on site at the festivals and events throughout the year. They assist in setting up and unloading supplies as well as keeping the event site clean and safe. They provide on-site emergency assistance and help to breakdown the events, tidying the area and reopening streets. In addition to their help at events, the crew looks after maintenance needs at Gallery B and Studio B, BUP’s nonprofit art exhibit and studio space. The team is certified in First Aid, CPR and AED.
BUP’s marketing team creates year-round community events, produces free guides that detail Bethesda’s restaurant, retail, home fashion and arts organizations and operates downtown Bethesda’s Web site, www.bethesda.org. The efforts of BUP’s marketing team target downtown Bethesda’s residents, tourists, visitors and employees. The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District is also managed by BUP’s marketing team. BUP's marketing team is the producer of Imagination Bethesda, Taste of Bethesda, a free Summer Concert Series, Yappy Hour, Winter Wonderland and Bethesda Outdoor Movies. To stay up to date on all of the Bethesda Urban Partnership's events and amenities, please join the BUP email list and follow us on social media.
Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District
The state of Maryland designated downtown Bethesda as an Arts & Entertainment District effective July 1, 2002. The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization is comprised of a 12-member Board of Directors as well as an advisory committee of local artists and arts businesses representatives. The mission of the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District is to create and implement arts and entertainment projects that contribute to the artistic, cultural and economic growth of downtown Bethesda. Special tax incentives are in place that will benefit artists, arts enterprises and developers that are located within the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District. The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District is the producer of the Bethesda Fine Arts Festival, The Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards, the Bethesda Painting Awards, Play In A Day, "Paint the Town," and manages Gallery B, Studio B and Triangle Art Studios.
Bethesda Transportation Solutions helps manage the traffic in downtown Bethesda by marketing local, state and federal commuter benefits programs and tax incentives to employers. BTS promotes alternative transportation such as rail, bus, carpools and biking with the goal of reducing the number of Bethesda employees who drive alone to work.