Monday, April 18, 2016

What is going on in the (real estate) 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. Oftentime when we try to produce such “lists of lists” they become outdated before they are released and/or the staff capacity is simply not there to maintain it all up-to-date.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 been 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.

[] Ripley Street Washington Property’s project, 286 multi-family units, recently open as well... Home Properties's project across the street is also open.

[] EYA/Chelsea School: At Pershing and Ellsworth - by the old library. It includes 63 townhouses, plus the preservation of a historic structure.

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

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

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

[] 8621 Georgia Ave: This Folger Pratt project, bringing 262 apartment units is currently under construction. 

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

[] The Old Sligo Police Station: This redevelopment will include 70 garden style units and 12 townhomes in a mix of artists housing as well as market rate housing.

[] 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 - Phase One:  In the heart of "Fenton Village", this 476 unit development will have a major public plaza and some retail, with underground parking (some of which will be public parking.)

[] 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. The current construction is a 'replacement' of old units; but the project is planned to add a substantial number of new units over the years.


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

  • Given what has been built recently, 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, major projects include the total redo of the old CitiPlace into Ellsworth Place; and, United Therapeutic's "Phase 3" development.

CONTEXT (and a bit of history) [plans and such]

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

Now, step back a minute… If you want to put all of this in context, you’ll want to 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 and Planning a few ago:

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


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

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 wrote 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 Planning Commission Chair did a wonderful timeline that we posted on our blog not too long ago:

While there’s been many articles written about the growth in Silver Spring, this one (somewhat dated) seems to be one of the best:

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.

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