Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday News 'N Notes

- The Transit Center will supposedly open next September. At the rate it's progressed thus far, that timeframe actually feels optimistic.

- Another downtown office building project has been converted from commercial to residential. Despite low office vacancy rates, developers still seem to think downtown Silver Spring has more potential as a bedroom community. Guess we'll all continue to commute to D.C. and NoVa for the foreseeable future.

- Is the Fillmore too expensive to rent for community activities? In addition to everything else, it does seem a bit excessive to demand a cut of merch sales after charging you $150 to have someone work the counter.

- I've driven by this house countless times without knowing it was Sly Stallone's childhood home.


Anonymous said...

Rentals is by far the lowest hanging fruit out there, especially compared to lining up a major tenant for a Class A space. I'm definitely good with adding this apt building north of Colesville - that area is a very, uh, "sleepy" part of DTSS (basically dead after 6pm because it's largely just office buildings).

I'd love to see some more offices in other parts of DTSS, though. Maybe w/phase 2 of the Studio Plaza development or the Blair shopping center/City Place redevelopments down the line.

Patrick Thornton said...

I have to agree that opening by the end of next Summer seems really optimistic in a weird way. I think we are getting MoCo Stockholm Syndrome here. Next thing, we'll be pleasantly surprised if the new library launches by 2020.

We do need commercial space in the area, although a better mixing of commercial, retail and residential would be better. This gives each areas more life throughout the week, and if a particular area is commercial heavy, adding more residential there could be a positive. See Rosslyn in Arlington to see the negatives of over doing commercial. Then look at Court House and Clarendon, which have a much better mix.

But, yes, DTSS is kind of setup like a bedroom community right now, which I think is a fairly large mistake. I spend a lot of my time and money in DC where I work and many others do the same (before then I worked in Arlington). This also creates excess traffic and congestion because so many people are forced to commute to work. We need to make it easier for more people to make more trips on foot.

MoCo really needs to work on getting more employers near where people live and more people living where people work. So, this means that DTSS and other similar areas need more commercial space and that the I-270 corridor needs more desirable places for young people to live. This can partially be achieved through zoning codes that encourage mixed-use and through tax incentives to encourage commercial development near residential areas (we'll save money by needing to spend less on transportation infrastructure).

Personally, I'd never work on the I-270 corridor as it is currently set up. There would nothing to do on breaks, there would be no happy hour opportunities and it's so far from desirable housing for my generation. Conversely, while I really like living in DTSS, there may come a time when I seek to live closer to employment opportunities, and that would most likely mean leaving MoCo.

And this is a generational issue that may deeply affect our county. Our county is graying and is having trouble attracting young, educated residents and workers compared to nearby jurisdictions. Part of this is our housing stock, which is disproportionately detached single family homes in non-walkable areas and is non-mixed use. The other part is that we don't have enough employers near where people live.

These are things that can be remedied, and MoCo is changing zoning and the Master Plan. I know there are some people who stills strongly believe in Euclidean Zoning and want everything separated, but the market is saying that mixed-use, inclusive zoning is where we should be. It's where we should have been 10 years ago.

We can still have Euclidean Zoning up county for those who want to live a certain suburban lifestyle. We don't have to change how people live in those parts. But there is no excuse for the lack of good mixed-used zoning in the urban parts of the county by metro stops. These areas need zoning that encourages people to live, work and play in the same place. These areas need zoning that allows for many activities and trips to be made without a car or even public transit.

This is what Arlington has done, and we should follow suite. We ca still have our detached single family homes on leafy streets, while also providing vibrant urban cores. If we do both well, we could really make MoCo stand out.

Anonymous said...

but but but...the silver spring defender folks say that office vacancy are SOOOO LOW.

All the people who bring up that this is a failing business community must be just haters.

Anonymous said...

Troll, SS's vacancy rate IS low (which Sligo even mentions in his post). That's just fact. We're well below the DC area avg. and effectively tied with the "Bethesda-Chevy Chase" submarket for the lowest vacancy rate in MoCo.

Pointing out that fact doesn't make me a "hater," just like Sligo and others (including myself in the first comment) pointing out things SS can improve upon doesn't make us "haters". You coming and laying a sh!t in every single comment section makes YOU a "hater". What a sad life you must lead if you're completely incapable of moving out of an area you hate. Maybe get a real job and move out of your parent's basement already? Spend less time trolling and more time actually achieving something in your (obviously) unfulfilled life?

Anonymous said...

@ Patrick

I agree with many of your concerns you raise. I think one big advantage Arlington has over MoCo besides it's ability to attract jobs, is the entire county is well inside the beltway, and in reality, used to be part of DC before the civil war, so in a way it is a City, not a County.

If There was a County that was just MoCo inside the beltway, I think things would look and feel a bit different in down county, but because we're also lumped in with the very suburban areas in mid county (Fairfax on the VA side) and an agriculture preserve in up county (basically a bit of Loudoun Co), it will be harder to make changes that attract young people, unless the Council starts to implement different rules for different areas (which it already does through zoning).

There is a huge push for more apartments in the 270 corridor, with residential allowed now in the new lifescience zoning that includes most of the unincorporated portions of the 'life science city' area at shady grove, key, observation, diamond avenues. The last 4 major plans to go to the Planning Board in this area were all for higher end apartments.

There is also a huge push to turn White Flint into our own version of Tysons Corner, sans the huge freeways cutting it into segments, and there are the plans in place to allow development at Shady Grove, Wheaton and Glenmont take on a transit friendly urban form, once land can be assembled.

The biggest disadvantage to the established and establishing CBD's from a commercial development standpoint is the lack of a major highway. Sure, the new TOD development should be focused on transit, but any major business is still going to want a major highway for visibility, or to provide employees and clients transportation options. The Metro stations with highway access in MoCo are Forest Glen *crickets chirping*, and Grovsner *built out*. Even all of the new development in Bethesda is mostly residential, which from a standpoint of making a walkable community that is a good thing, as it's employment heavy, and the same could be said for Silver Spring. The question is do we still want SS and Bethesda to be employment centers with residential options, or should they be jobs and housing neutral, and encourage all new office construction further north?

Anonymous said...

Re: Transit Center

"We are going to work on this together”... awwwwww, so cute

Anonymous said...

Anon at Friday, October 12, 2012 8:33:00 AM clearly has a learning disability:

"Willco won approval for a 190,000-square-foot office building in 2009 and had planned to begin construction once it lined up a major tenant. But faced with weak demand for new office space in downtown Silver Spring, the company applied this month for a residential amendment to its project and site plans."

"“There is no market right now for more office space,” Bruce H. Lee, president of Lee Development, said in a recent interview."


Clearly despite the low vacancy rates you tout every five seconds there is a big problem here.

Sligo said...

What we need is a major employer to commit to downtown Silver Spring, like Discovery and United Therapeutics. Better here than some Godforsaken Dulles office park.

Anonymous said...

Exactly my point. But "defend silver spring no matter what guy" won't allow anyone to insult his precious town.

There's a real problem that we only have Discovery and NOAA. And I supposed UT. There needs to be a few more. I'm sorry that hurts Mr."Silver spring is the greatest place on earth"'s feelings.

Anonymous said...

There's no way to get people living hear offices and offices near peoples houses as nice as that sounds. That's what a good public transit system does in any well functioning city, becasue one switches jobs much more often than houses. Let this switch happen to get a more vibrant downtown and if there's an incredible need for office space in DTSS, there's a ton of developable space left. People have converted every known building type into every known building use as long as the Romans where around, so I wouldn't worry about our office to residential mix being a little skewed as long as SIlver Spring continues to thrive, and this project will certainly add to that momentum.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that the Romans had 40 ethiopian joints in a 10 block radius.

Vagrarian said...

Just something to throw out office has been in DTSS for close to 20 years, and we're moving to Linthicum partly because we're hoping to get cheaper rent. We had hoped to stay in the area but commercial real estate here has gone up and demand is too high.

Anonymous said...

Vagrarian you are the NOVA troll!

Vagrarian said...

Hey, I wish we could stay here! I just discovered Thai Derm's lunch specials!

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