Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What is going on (in the development world) in Silver Spring?


So, you want to know: What IS going on (in the development world) in Silver Spring? What are all those real estate developments deals and great projects that are coming out of the ground? What has happened recently? What is the history? Where are we headed?

Well, obviously there is no simple answer and no single place that has all this wonderful information. Often time when we try to produce such “lists of lists” they become outdated before they are released and/or the staff capacity is simply not there to maintain it all up-to-date.

Given all these caveats, here is an imperfect, incomplete, and probably not fully accurate snapshot of “What is going on (in the development world) in Silver Spring."


First things first: What you see ‘coming off the ground’ in the downtown area is probably one of the following 1000+ residential units that have recently being completed:

[] Behind the Civic Building: 222 multi-family units.  This project is actually part of the overall downtown Silver Spring development.

[] Down by Montgomery College: (the old Dry Cleaning Institute building): 210 multi-family units now open. Built behind the historic structure, which is incorporated into the development.)

[] South Silver Spring (Kennett Street): Commonly known as The Galaxy, this is a 241 unit multi-family development recently opened.

[] Ripley Street Washington Property’s project, 286 multi-family units, recently opened as well... Home Properties project across the street is well on its way.

[] 8706 Georgia Avenue: One of two office developments that has been turned into housing, this 240 unit apartment complex will within easy walking distance of the Fillmore and AFI - soon to be opened.

Projects in different stages of development review could bring an additional 2000 units. Some of these include:

[] EYA/Chelsea School: At Pershing at Ellsworth. It will include 72 townhouses, plus the preservation of the historic structure.

[] Fenton Baptist Church: This project will rebuild the church and will have street level storefront, along with 200+ multi-family units.

[] Silver Spring Library Residential Site: Fronting on Bonifant, this project will have 120 multi-family units and residential on the ground floor.

[] The Falklands Chase Redevelopment: This major redevelopment in the northwest side of downtown is slated to eventually include over 1,000 units and more than 60,000 sq. ft. of retail.

[] Studio Plaza:  In the heart of "Fenton Village", this 476 unit development will have a major public plaza and some retail.

[] The Blairs:  The complete 'redo' of the existing Blairs shopping center and adjacent residential developments will be a major new 'destination point' in downtown Silver Spring.

If you want to see some of the above projects in a graphic representation, you can review a presentation given by Park & Planning about a year ago – but still very relevant:

Given what has been built recently – particularly over by East/West Highway, it is safe to say that from the middle of the last decade through the middle or end of this one, Silver Spring would have added in the proximity of 5,000 residential units throughout the downtown area.

Other than residential, there is not much going on beyond what the County is building - and of course United Therapeutic's "Phase 3" development. You can see the County's projects at:

If you are a techie and want to play with some relatively up-to-date database, try Park and Planning’s two sites:

NOTE: On January 8, 2013, the Planning Department did a session outlining all developments in downtown Silver Spring that are under construction and/or in the planning process... See the PowerPoint presentation HERE... You may also want to view another presentation we did which places these developments "in context"... You can find that presentation HERE

CONTEXT [plans and such]

Now, step back a minute… If you want to put all of this in context, you’ll want to get review some framing documents. Your first stop to understand the context of what is going on should be a fuller understanding ‘how a building gets built’ in our County… Check out “A Resident’s Guide to Land Use Master Plan Process in Montgomery County”:

After that, you’ll be better ready to understand the Silver Spring plans in particular by reviewing the Silver Spring CBD (Central Business District) Sector Plan, found at:

Next you’ll be ready to step back a bit again, and see how this Plan fits into other plans and other planning issues. There is a July 2011 update to all this information, readily found at:

For a synopsis of all these plans, see more of the presentation made by Park & Planning a year ago:

To get a picture of what is her today, nothing provides a better overview than our own web-site:


Wikipedia actually does a decent job providing some history for us:

The Chamber’s web-site also has a brief history and context:

So does some of the local neighborhood historians:

And, of course, the Historical Society has a wealth of info:

Our own historian, Jerry McCoy recently released a book titled “Then and Now: Downtown Silver Spring”… He also wrote a history of book of the broader Silver Spring area:

Gus Bauman, a past Commission Chair did a wonderful timeline that we posted on our blog not too long ago:


If your interest is in knowing what others think about all of this, you may want to visit some of the area blogs, web-sites, FaceBook pages, etc… A handy dandy ‘list of lists’ can be find in our blog posting:

While there’s been many articles written about the growth in Silver Spring, this one seems to be one of the best:
(Plus it extensively quotes one of our Citizens Advisory Board members, Evan Glass.)

As if all of the above is not enough, you could also have some fun Googling “Silver Spring redevelopment” not only on the web, but in ‘pictures’ and ‘YouTube’… And – this is quite something if you’ve never tried it – go to ‘more’ in the Google bar; scroll down to ‘even more’; then find the link to ‘scholar’. There you will find amazing historical works ranging from the useful to the useless. (For example, there’s a University of Maryland thesis back from 2005 title “Imagined Pasts, Imagined Futures: Race, Politics, Memory, and the Revitalization of Downtown Silver Spring”.)

All of this will lead you to more information than you probably need – but, you’ll have loads of fun in the investigative journey!

NOTE: I ENCOURAGE YOU TO LEAVE ANY ADDITIONS/CORRECTION TO THE ABOVE AS A COMMENT ON THIS BLOG... And, please consider 'following' this blog so you can get future postings automatically.


Jean said...

Correction: 76 townhouses are proposed for Chelsea site, NOT 176. It is only a proposal, not approved.

Anonymous said...

http://dcmud.blogspot.com/search/label/Silver%20Spring has a lot of projects (many of which you listed). There are quite a few plans which have been shelved for the time being, but two projects that (I think) are still progressing towards groundbreaking are 8711 Georgia Avenue and Silver Spring Park.

The Gridlocksmith said...

Reemberto, it makes me dizzy, thinking of all you do for us. You are a treasure.

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