Sunday, May 08, 2011

Bye Bye Post Office, Hello Apartments

About a year ago I mentioned that the main Silver Spring post office on 2nd Avenue was on the market. Well, it looks like that particular federal property has now sold and in its place will arise...wait for it...more apartments!

It would be nice for a change if a developer constructed additional office space so that there might be jobs based in downtown Silver Spring rather than in some godforsaken office park up I-270, or even worse - Virginia. Even when there are plans to build office space downtown, they ultimately change them in favor of building apartments. Perhaps this phenomenon is the result of the current business climate, but all these people that live in these apartments and condos have to work somewhere. Why can't it be here?

It'd be nice if another significantly-sized company like Discovery decided to re-locate to downtown Silver Spring, but it's unlikely MoCo would bribe - sorry, "provide incentives" - to any corporation enough to make this happen. Virginia is much better than Maryland at that, which is why you see countless office buildings springing up way out by Dulles Airport and beyond. So what if there's no public transportation there whatsoever? They got a nice tax break, so you employees can suffer through a one-hour commute and like it.

Sure, there are already a fair amount of offices in dTSS, including the new headquarters of United Theraputics, but all this new residential construction threatens to tilt Silver Spring more towards becoming some sort of urban bedroom community.

So why did the USPS unload the post office anyway? Is selling this federal asset part of some deficit reduction plan? So far, there's no word on where the post office will relocate, if anywhere, though I can't believe their only presence downtown would be that tiny office on Colesville. God help those needing postal services if it is.


pia said...

One can only hope the building that goes up is mixed use!

WashingtonGardener said...

My prayers would be for the SS PO to move back to its building on Georgia near Wayne - but knowing the USPS and their bone-headed choices over the past 10 yrs, they'll make it as far out from the downtown core as possible.

Anonymous said...

275-300 units = 400+ more people who want to walk to businesses and restaurants to patronize them. I know you want more office, but people actually living here is what will contribute more to the offerings in DTSS. Bring it on.

Sligo said...

"people actually living here is what will contribute more to the offerings in DTSS. Bring it on."

Granted, but those people are gone all day during the week if they aren't working here. Someone needs to support businesses during the workday, too.

Anonymous said...

Definitely agree that the residential/office balance is getting out of whack, as is the rental/condo balance. I really hope the prospective office building(s) immediately surrounding the new transit center get off the ground soon. As far as I know, office vacancy rates remain very very low in dTSS.

Anonymous said...

Actually the proposed buildings surrounding the transit center are going to be 2 apartment buildings and a hotel, so no office buildings, which is surprising to's hard to imagine living in an apartment and just hearing buses driving by all day and all night.

Thayer-D said...

I'm not sure a developer building an office building will make office workers appear magically. That kind of socialist thinking might get you's in trouble with our local Anti-American Comittee! Recently, there was an office project on Georgia, just north of Colesville that was converted to residential. While the economy, and/or MoCo get their act together, getting more residents is nothing to shake a stick at. More people, more "services', more of an incentive for offices once the market turns around for that product.

For sure w/ the purple line etc, Downtown isn't going to miss out on any future office construction, once it revs up again, but right now, the rental market is red hot.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Developers build what the market dictates there is a shortage of (demand for)'s basic economics. The risk, of course, is always timing: the time frame from design to approval to lease-up is so long (especially in MoCo) that some developers invariably get caught in the down cycle as the market gets overbuilt as demand diminishes. This scenario applies to commercial or residential development and as Thayer-D said, the rental market is red hot right now and all the experts agree that it will continue to be red hot for several more years. Does that mean
office is shut out? Probably unless a developer has as specific larger tenant(s) who need enough space that isn't available in the existing office buildings.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 10:33 - the Metro Transit Center is a mix of residential, retail, and office space. There will be one apartment building. There is be 1.8 million suare feet of office space (I have no idea if that is a lot or not.) Hadn't heard anything about a hotel.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

A little off topic but as anyone notice the terrible conditions of the roads in DTSS? we seem to have some of the worst roads in the county. Why do our roads seem to be in a state of complete disrepair?

David said...

We want a lovely building with some first floor retail.

Patrick Thornton said...

Montgomery County in general has few major businsses. My hunch is that this isn't because developers don't build enough office space here.

For the record, I work in Arlington. There aren't many jobs in our part of Maryland. And if I ever move, the lack of jobs close to where I live will be a major reason.

Anonymous said...

"Montgomery County in general has few major businsses"

I think (well, it's pretty much a quantitative fact when looking at Fortune lists) that MoCo does just fine for itself. I definitely don't think we need to ramp up subsidizing companies to relocate here. I'd rather continue spending the money on education, police, public transit, etc. and let our quality of life attract employers smart enough to realize that value.

Anonymous said...

"let our quality of life attract employers smart enough to realize that value"

Umm, OK. That's not really working for us so far. The quality of life is pretty high in Northern Virginia also. Schools are on par with ours, and crime is lower there. Thus, given that Virginia is perceived to be more business-friendly, there's really no reason for businesses to locate here.

C. P. Zilliacus said...

When it comes to attracting businesses, it's frequently about ground access to airports, and in particular Dulles Airport.

Having a Metro station nearby is not a substitute for access to Dulles, even if the Silver Line does get completed sometime in the future. Ever consider how slow a trip on Metro to Dulles (by way of downtown D.C. for anyone boarding in Montgomery County) might be?

But unfortunately, Montgomery County's official policy has long been to make it as difficult as possible for its businesses and residents to get to Dulles. That's bad for the county in general, and for Silver Spring in particular - and it means many businesses don't give serious consideration to locating in Montgomery County.

Anonymous said...

"Umm, OK. That's not really working for us so far."

WHAAAA? I'm sorry, I could have sworn we live in one of the best counties in the best country in the world by just about any indicator. I see retail fail and bar fail guy is now moco fail guy. Way to branch out, dude.

Know-it-all said...

"I could have sworn we live in one of the best counties in the best country in the world by just about any indicator."
Actually, the US is currently ranked 4th in the world in terms of Human Development Index. Norway, Australia, and New Zealand top the list. The HDI uses a number of different measurements to arrive at the ranking including standard of living, literacy, life expectancy, etc.

Anonymous said...

@11:57 -- 11:19 here (and, no I'm not "retail fail" guy). You mis-read my comment. I was NOT saying that the quality of life in MoCo is bad. I was saying that the quality of life has failed to attract businesses.

Anonymous said...

I work in Silver Spring.
I would much rather live in Arlington, but the commute would be horrible.
Hence I live here.
I was unaware people choose to live in Silver Spring for any reason other than access to jobs.
Clearly I am mistaken.

Anonymous said...

"Norway, Australia, and New Zealand top the list."

Where's your patriotism?! USA! USA! MoCo! MoCo! haha.

ForestGlen said...

I live in Silver Spring and have to commute all the way to Crystal Shitty...I've given up on the Metro since it takes me half the time to drive there...though that may change with gas prices currently at $4.09 near me.

Anyway, Virginia sucks...I hate having to work there and would never want to live there. Crystal City is like a ghost town after working hours. And it's obvious why.

Anonymous said...

more rental spaces? Awesome! More low cost thugs and lowlifes to grace the streets of Ellsworth!

Terry in Silver Spring said...

Let's hope that wherever they move the post office that there will be more parking.

Terry in Silver Spring said...

"A little off topic but as anyone notice the terrible conditions of the roads in DTSS? we seem to have some of the worst roads in the county. Why do our roads seem to be in a state of complete disrepair?"

Heavy use, in both senses of the word "heavy". Look at the lanes frequented by the buses (and trucks to a lesser degree). The pavement is flowing to either side from the sustained flow of heavy vehicles.

Anonymous said...

"A little off topic but as anyone notice the terrible conditions of the roads in DTSS?"

Another reason for this is all the WSSC roadwork the past few years. Along with road maintenance budget cuts, I assume.

"more rental spaces? Awesome! More low cost thugs and lowlifes to grace the streets of Ellsworth!"

STFU, "fail" dude. Your comments are all retarded. These $1500 1br apts will bring in a ton of thugs, I'm sure. Or not, moron.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
more rental spaces? Awesome! More low cost thugs and lowlifes to grace the streets of Ellsworth!

I seriously doubt that the "low cost thugs and lowlifes" will be able to afford the rent at this developemnt. The land and development costs plus the proximity to Metro will keep rents here fairly high (probably starting around $1,600 for the smallest 1BR or Studio. If your preference is to reduce the proportion of lower income people in downtown Silver Spring, then you should be thankful for this apartment project, not resentful.

NIMBY said...

Let's be honest, the Post Office building looks like a dog's breakfast and they've been a crappy neighbor to the folks in Woodside (trash and litter blow out of their parking lot all the time). As long as they leave behind a mailbox I won't be sad to see them go.
In terms of what replaces them, I just hope that it's something more attractive than Elizabeth House!

Anonymous said...

Isn't that post office considered historic? It's from all the way back in the 80's. All efforts should be made to save it, or at the very minimum, delay any development as long as possible.

Patrick Thornton said...

The thungs you see in DTSS are almost assurdely not from the area. I read the crime reports on a weekly basis and not only are many of the crimes in the area not committed by people who live in the DTSS are, but most aren't committed by people from any part of SIlver Spring.

If you want less thugs on Ellsworth, we need higher end retail and dinning options and anything other than that mall. Where in the world can you find more sub-$10 dinning options than on Ellsworth (if you include the mall?). It's the perfect hang out for teens and those slightly older with too much time on their hands and not enough common sense.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you want a place even worse than Ellsworth, just go to Gallery Place. It's even more awkward there because there are very high-end restaurants, with outside seating, alongside places that attract the riff-raff (McDonalds, the MLK library).

In my experience, the big attractors of the riff-raff to SS are the McDonalds and the Majestic (and perhaps the Chick-fil-a, but to a lesser extent). Until those places go away, I'm not sure that more high-end retail will help, if Gallry Place is any indicator.

Anonymous said...

As a fellow riff-ruffian, I want to alert everyone to the chicks-a-fillet deal on Tuesdays, where your little riff-rats get to eat for free.

Anonymous said...


Most of the teens (the rif-raff) come from the Georgia Ave. corridor and many NE, DC neighborhoods. A few more travel from PG County. They arrive in DTSS by Metro bus mostly.

Take out two places along the Ellsworth corridor and the teen and thug problem will disappear like magic.

1. The Majestic Theater
2. Galaxy Billiards


Anonymous said...

The problem is ellsworth is an outdoor mall, ie a food court and movieplex so it naturally attracts teenagers and riff raff. As others have said the real problem is a lack of compelling retail to draw higher end shoppers in.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe this whole conversation has turned to "I hate teenagers!" when I'm still wondering where I'll go to mail a package.

Anonymous said...

I asked my letter carrier about the closure of the 2nd Avenue post office, where he's based. He said they've been told that the sorting function will be moved to an existing facility in an office/industrial park. He said a street name, but it wasn't familiar to me and I've forgotten it. I asked about package pick up. He said that they're talking about having us go to the store front post office there by the Metro on Colesville. I hope not. There's no parking at all there.

Terry in Silver Spring (posting under anonymous as Blogger is giving me log in issues)

Anonymous said...

Isn't anyone else upset that the post office is leaving. I live in Wheaton and we have the worst post office in the world - no drive up mail boxes and no automatic postal machines. I go to the SS one to avoid the humans at the Wheaton post office. FUDGE!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't think i've stepped in a post office more than once every few years, so no, i'm not upset at them going the way of blockbuster.

Patrick Thornton said...

Frankly, I'd like to see the entire Post Office service go away.

Thomas Hardman said...

Keep in mind that over MoCo in general, there is far more employment than housing. That's why so many people commute in from the surrounding counties.

Reasonably priced apartments are in extremely short supply. We don't need more employers, we need more housing near to the employers. Close-in high-density rental is in high demand, satisfy the demand and everyone benefits.

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