Thursday, August 30, 2012

Developer Risks Future, Shares Plans with "The Community"

Despite Silver Spring's First Baptist Church building at the corner of Wayne and Fenton being ultra-historic*, it will ultimately be torn down and replaced with a new mixed-use development that will include 230 residential units and 30,000 sq ft of retail, along with a brand-new church.

The current plan was shared last night at a "pre-submittal community meeting" and reader J.T. was kind enough to share the photos he took of the latest renderings:





Conspicuously absent from the design is a skybridge spanning Fenton street and connecting to the future Silver Spring library. Clearly, this is a major oversight on the part of the developer. How are people expected to get to the other side of the street without one?



*The existing church was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on a commission from Jesus himself. Plus, George Washington slept there. Twice.



55 comments:

Mike said...

So when does "The Community" start listing its demands of preferred retailers for all that space?

Anonymous said...

No way that bldg will have 300,000 s.f. of retail. I think the entire development is probably 300,000 s.f.

Either way, it will hopefully be a terrific addition to DTSS, especially once the library and purple line come through.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know the timeline for when this might be getting off the drawing board? I think I heard that the first phase of Studio Plaza - the site of the large parking lot between Thayer and Silver Spring Ave. (which also recently had one of these meetings) was getting off the ground next year.

Justafed said...

Sligo: even bloggers need to get their numbers within an order of magnitude. The actual amount of proposed retail is less than 30,000 square feet:

http://www.macrealtyadvisors.com/8415-fenton-street

Meanwhile, some people in Silver Spring might want to celebrate a rare moment of Bethesda restaurant fail. B.D.'s Mongolian is closed forever on Wisconsin Avenue as of last week.

Anonymous said...

"how are people expected to cross the street?"

Oh..i dunno with their FEET!

why do you need a skybridge?

but kudos for good development in that delapidated area

Sligo said...

To the last commenter - you must be new to this blog.

Anonymous said...

I am that poster.

Umm...your link is pretty irrelevant. It doesn’t make a point for anything, except to show how dumb the idea of a skybridge is. Frankly I think the one that’s there now by the movie theater is pretty useless and ugly. Why waste 800k as you posted. Instead use your feet.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they can build a Mongolian BBQ here. It wouldn't help with skybridges or nightlife, but it's so yummy!

Sligo said...

Of course it's a dumb idea, just like the bridge from the library. The question was meant to be sarcastic... and rhetorical.

Anonymous said...

This development looks fantastic. This whole talk about Fenton Village is a joke. When was a village defined by tons of surface parking and rink-a-dink retail?

Anonymous said...

I'm not for a bridge but would you agree that the roads on this area are not pedestrian friendly?

And that the weather is crappy about 8 months out of the year? It's already congested as hell on those streets and cars and pedestrians have difficulty navigating the poor designs in town.

Im not saying skybridges are a solution - but I think this is an issue that should be examined. Perhaps a restructuring of crosswalks etc? Some kind of modififed traffic flows?

Clancy said...

Wait, Sligo, are you telling me that Jesus didn't commission Wright to build the existing church?

Also, not to rehash the Great Library Skybridge War 0f 2009-2011 but anyone who thinks that intersection is currently tough to navigate by either car or pedestrian, or that it is congested, perhaps needs to reassess whether urban living is best for them. It's simply not that bad of an intersection, even by SS standards.

Also, it's going to change dramatically over the next few years. A major retail/apartment development, street-level rail line, and library are all going to be added to the mix. It's very likely that the community will have ample opportunity to add its two-cents worth on how to best address the new traffic patterns created by these welcome additions to Silver Spring (even if it means a breakout of the Great Library Skybridge War II).

Terry in Silver Spring said...

Is the developer including a skateboard park? Clearly, that is another major oversight! Where are kids who take the bus down from Howard County going to be able to skateboard safely?



Yeah, in case you didn't figure it out: ;)

Anonymous said...

Blast from the past: whatever happened to Sk8ter Mom?

Anonymous said...

Lol@skating. Good comedy.

Time warped to 1995.

Anonymous said...

I was at the meeting and can tell you that it was anything but "risky".

Since the county ruled that the church isn't historic, all the hoopla has died down.

This was the final community meeting required by the county before the site plan can be submitted to the planning dept. The two adjacent community associations had already both blessed the plans and, in fact, lauded the developer for making significant accomodations to their concerns (particularly ESSCA). The meeting was very cordial and most there were happy to see the updated plans and excited about the progress.

Anonymous said...

Looking at those drawings, it is clear the developer wants to avoid any claims in a few years when there is a proposal to build something new and bigger on the site that his buildings have to be preserved because of their unique architectural merit.

Concerning the library bridge, everybody seems to like the bridge across Cameron Street connecting the United Therapeutic buildings. It is quite a sight, particularly at night. A bridge for the new library could be equally good or better and would certainly be more useful for the public. It would make it a lot easier for the handicapped to get across Wayne to the new library.

Anonymous said...

Oh good lord. Enough with the library bridge. The crazies lost. Deal with it. We aren't spending 800K so a handful of drivers don't have to cross the street in freakin downtown Silver Spring. If you want to never have to interact with a neighborhood then move to some 3rd ring suburb. The end.

Hope this project gets off the drawing board soon.

Anonymous said...

"everybody seems to like the bridge across Cameron Street connecting the United Therapeutic buildings. It is quite a sight, particularly at night."

You know what I like best about it? It didn't cost me a dime.

Anonymous said...

The skybridge we really need is one that would cut through the disaster that is City Place. Maybe a big plastic tunnel from GA Ave. to Elsworth 2nd level?

Anonymous said...

I don't find crossing Fenton and Wayne to be all that hazaordous. But, for those of you who do you'll be happy to know they added a left turn arrow on Fenton going toward Colesville. Makes the intersection a little better IMO.

Danielle Meitiv said...

That intersection is hard to cross? Are people kidding me? Have you ever been to Manhattan?

Anonymous said...

I like how people conveniently compare DTSS to "Manhatten" or call it real city living and tell people to move to a suburb if they find something difficult to cross. Of course if there's any other argument about why DTSS needs improvement because it doesn't have things like a big city should these same people will argue that its "not there yet" and should not be compared to a large city.

How very enlightened and inclusive of you.

I also enjoy the complaining of costs from taxpayers dimes. Makes sense. Of course the same group will be okay with raised taxes or fees from the city or Montgomery county for anything else no matter how ridiculous.

Maybe handicapped people do have a problem crossing such intersections? Just a thought.

And I think there have been several posts even on this blog about how Silver Springs walkability is not great and poorly planned (main colesville road, and georgia avenue in particular). To be fair the intersection in question is by far not the worst to cross but still, the point stands: some may legitimately find it difficult to cross.

Anonymous said...

What a gibberish comment, 8:20. Completely and utterly.

Anonymous said...

I am the 2:54 anonymous. I don't find the crossing difficult. However, I do find taking that turn to be a little difficult. First, there was never enough time for all to get through. Then you've the drivers from the other side who would be in the left turn lane who often decided they needed to go straight. Throw in pedestrians to the equation and you can see how the intersection can be tricky.

Bottom line is the intersection is easier to manage for both drivers and pedestrians with this new left signal turn.

Anonymous said...

To be fair the intersection in question is by far not the worst to cross but still, the point stands: some may legitimately find it difficult to cross.

Some may find any intersection legitimately difficult to cross. That does not mean we can spend 800k a pop whenever there is something of civic interest on the other side of the street.

Or let me put it this way. My wife is a disability rights attorney. She fights for accommodations for her disabled clients every day and even she thinks the bridge is absurd.

Anonymous said...

What a moron worthless comment, 11:17. Completely and utterly

Anonymous said...

I am somewhat familiar with this property's history and I am deeply offend that you neglected to mention that Francis Preston Blair himself once tinkled against a sapling at this property. I have it on the best authority that the sapling survives in the church's ultra-historic basement but it is intentionally hidden from view by people promoting the associations with JC & FLW.

Pete said...

I think I voted in that church once. HISTORIC!!

Anonymous said...

No more approvals for large developments until at least these things happen. As there is becoming too much congestion without the public transits / pedestrian options.

1) Federal funding for Purple line is approved.
2) Major improvement in pedestrian access in DTSS. For example get rid of horrible stairs by Flakland Chase on 16th Street south of East West Highway
3) Silver Spring Transit Center is completed.

Anonymous said...

^^

I agree but fat chance of anything like that happening anywhere in this area (let alone around here).

DC and the local area is build build build build build build build build like complete morons with no thought to overcrowding, infrastructure, transportation or quality of life.

Thats why people are stuck in ridiculous endless traffic jams that go for 2 hours each way. That's also why this area has the most miserable angry assholes in the country (and they have the right to be).

But don't count on any local governments getting anything done in an intelligent manner or planning anything. Just keep giving permits to build away!

Vagrarian said...

Jesus must've commissioned that church, because it sure as hell wasn't Ayn Rand...

Patrick Thornton said...

Look, you are traffic.

And if you drove less, there would be less traffic.

DTSS has some of the best public transportation in the country. It is served by the main line of one of the best train/subway systems in the country. It is a major bus hub for the region. It is served by Amtrak and Marc. And it will serve the future Purple Line.

If traffic is an issue for you, I'd suggest driving less and walking more. Traffic has not been an issue for me since I make use of the myriad of public transportation options in the area.

New developments will help make the area more walkable and spur the county to make changes to improve the experience of walkers and those in wheelchairs. A building with retail at this intersection will greatly increase the experience of those on foot. The completion of the library in 2047 will also help as well. The problem with crossing that intersection is that drivers don't exercise enough caution because two of the four corners have nothing at them. More people at that intersection, combined with some improvements to the crossing and sidewalk will make it a much more pleasant intersection. The sky bridge will only serve to discourage people on foot/in wheel chairs and will encourage speeding and unsafe driving.

One walk at night would illustrate that this area hardly is overcrowded. If anything, it still has far too few residents in the urban areas to support walkablility and more retail. The best way to improve safety and deter crime is to get more people out and walking. Walk around Silver Spring. It can be a pretty lonely -- and thus unsafe -- experience.

If your idea of overcrowded is having having to pay for parking and having to wait at traffic lights, then yes the area is overcrowded. But for those of us who use and enjoy DTSS as an urban, walkable space, a lot more people and businesses are needed to make this a better place. DTSS is just getting started.

Rebecca said...

The designs look fine, if a bit generic. Any word on whether these will be apartments or condos?

Anonymous said...

Patrick is right. Urbanism 101 (not to mention common sense). This development right in the CBD won't be adding to the traffic, it's the people driving in from far-flung places TO the CBD that create the traffic, obviously.

Unfortunately, it's those people who drive into our community that think they're holier than thou and we should continue to give preference to them over people who actually live here (see: laughable library bridges).

Anonymous said...

Some of us live right next to the library and dont think the library bridge is "laughable". I don't support it either but don't understand the ridiculous need to stamp out opposing ideas.

Patrick- I stopped reading your post when you said "DTSS has some of the best public transportation in the country".

DTSS is the home of DC Metro: namely the red line. This automatically disqualifies your statement and despite AMTRAK and MARC renders the statement ridiculous.

Metro is not even qualified to be a joke anymore. It's something below a joke.

Anonymous said...

And Anon 12:40- They won't add to traffic by living there? As in they won't have jobs that aren't public transporation accessible to get to? Okay.

Anonymous said...

"As in they won't have jobs that aren't public transporation accessible to get to? Okay."

Right, at least not 95% of them. Or if, for some reason, they pay the premium to live in DTSS/next to DC but don't actually work in DTSS or DC then they'll be reverse commuting to Baltimore/Columbia/PG/wherever and have limited impact. But, yeah, very few (if any) of these apt dwellers would be doing that.

Certainly they will contribute only a tiny fraction to regional traffic compared to these hundreds of units being built outside the beltway somewhere.

Anonymous said...

"Patrick- I stopped reading your post when you said "DTSS has some of the best public transportation in the country"."

You probably shouldn't. Heavy rail, commuter rail, commuter buses and probably 50 local bus lines means DTSS is well connected to most corners of the region. Not to say there isn't room for improvement. The Purple Line and BRT will be quite welcomed in the years to come.

Anonymous said...

Anon-2:42-

Aren't you just assuming? What's this based on?

I live in the Crescent and work in upper Silver Spring- reverse commute.

You are aware that the biggest technology corridor is on 270 (most of which is not metro accessible) in MD and in Reston/Herndon and NOVA (the parts that are not currently metro accesibble and even wehn the silver line opens no one will use it from silver spring because it will take 2+ hours each way with no delays).

So yeah a ton of people who work in this area go to jobs that do NOT have metro or easy public transportation access.

You're assuming and I'm guessing just fitting the assumption to the narrative that there will be no traffic or congestion increase.

Anonymous said...

Patrick - what drugs are you on? Amtrak does not stop at DTSS.

And MARC only goes south to Union Station in the morning, only going north in the evening rush. MARC service does not provide convenient transportation within MoCO during the day. And, of course, MARC does not run on the weekend.

As DTSS needing more stores and more people, it is not lonely at night. I work nearby and it is always lively 7 nights a week. I don't know where you are walking, but go to Ellsworth or Georgia, it is busy. And, if a neighborhood is quiet at night, it is because it is residential, not commercial in character. And, it is designed to be that way and people choose to live in a quiet neighborhood. If you are as much of a pedestrian as you say you are, then walk to your favorite store. And, if we don't have it, order online. Retail is a failing strategy for redeveloment in the cyber age.

A fellow pedestrian !

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