It wasn't that long ago that we first heard of the Chelsea School's ambitious plans to construct a new campus in downtown Silver Spring designed by the studio of architect Daniel Libeskind. However, like many other Silver Spring development projects proposed over the years, this one will sadly never see the light of day.
The Chelsea School in an alternative future.
The school has sold their land to developer EYA and plans to move out of Silver Spring in the next couple years. You can't really blame them for selling out - their student body doesn't really come from Silver Spring, and they were holding a prime piece of Silver Spring real estate that is ripe for development.
I'd like to know how much the school got for that bit of land. Why doesn't the county also sell EYA the adjacent land where the existent Silver Spring library sits? They could use the money to help pay for our new library and to close their billion dollar budget shortfall, if even just a little. No doubt the alternative would be years of headaches and arguments in "The Community" about what to do with the property.
To commit to this deal, EYA must have a renewed confidence in the residential real estate market, at least in Silver Spring. Based on my completely non-scientific analysis, housing sales in Silver Spring appear to be picking up - the homes I see put up for sale near my own don't seem to stay on the market particularly long. Not that I plan on moving anytime soon, but this is still reassuring to see.
For what it's worth, the May issue of Washingtonian magazine even includes downtown Silver Spring (the 20910 ZIP code) in an article entitled "Where to Buy Now":
Over the last decade, downtown Silver Spring has been transformed from a relatively affordable, slightly shabby area to one of the region's most desirable areas for families and young professionals.Who's shabby-looking?
Based on their existing projects, EYA tends to build new buildings that look old, a trend which will hopefully continue with their Silver Spring project. Not that I dislike modern buildings, mind you, they would just look a bit out of place across the street from the older single-family homes in the adjacent neighborhood. ("Homes of Happiness in a Charming Sylvan Setting", according to this vintage real estate ad for the neighborhood.)
Perhaps the improving housing market could even resurrect the The Ellsworth Condominiums. Remember them? They were to be built at the corner of Ellsworth and Cedar in what is presently the empty lot behind the civic center. They were marketed as being "The Last Word" in Silver Spring living and even had a sales office open for a time, if I recall correctly. I mean, who wouldn't want to live on The Promenade?
While the condos' website is long-defunct, a reference to the condos ("currently in design") still exists on the Foulger-Prat site. Something has to go there eventually. (A park would be nice.)
UPDATE: Reader D.R. pointed out to me that the website can still be viewed courtesy of the Internet Archive. It is even more obnoxious than I remembered. I particularly love the punctuation usage. "The Last Word: The Ultimate Best of its Kind; All There is to Be Said."