Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Blairs to be Brought into the 21st Century

The Washington Business Journal has details today of a planned $625 million revamping of The Blairs apartments that includes demolishing some existing buildings and getting rid of the Giant Food. The project is expected to take two decades (LOL, this is MoCo - actual time: four decades) and include features like a dog grooming station and something called "bioswales". I could regurgitate more information here, but you're better off just reading the article yourself.

The renderings sure do look nice, but don't they always?


Michael said...

So it'll take them until the middle of the century to bring the area into the 21st Century.

By that point it will already be dated. Good thinkin'.

Anonymous said...

Blairs is holding a meeting at the civic center tonight to announce/detail this project. 730pm, I believe.

This will be a great project. Disappointed it'll take a couple decades to finish all phases, but the scale is mind-boggling ginormous ($625m is roughly 6 transit centers, for those keeping score at home).

This is a game-changer for that side of the tracks considering there's currently very, very little drawing people over there.

JK said...

Take away our Giant? So we'll just be left with rotton Safeway food or expensive Whole Foods?

Anonymous said...

JT, obviously there will be at least 1 supermarket included in the redevelopment. By that point there will also almost certainly be a new supermarket in the Falkland Chase redevelopment (can't remember if Harris Teeter was just a rumor or if they had signed something).

Anonymous said...

Sorry, meant JK not JT.

Anonymous said...

JK: There are also active plans (not yet official) to redevelop the SS Safeway into a much larger modern store with 5-6 levels of housing above. I wouldn't be surprised if this is made public in the not-to-distant future. And the Falkland Chase redevelopemnt was supposed to include a Harris Teeter, but who knows what will happen on that site now that Home Properties has put it up for sale (all of Falkland Chase, including the north parcel and full development plans)

Anonymous said...

I would bemoan the loss of Giant. As would the people who shop there, who are a very different clientele from the one that shops at Whole Foods.

Anonymous said...

I should say, "the OTHER people who shop there."

Anonymous said...

Too much glass, but the density is very welcome. My baby is growing up so fast!

Anonymous said...

Why would they get rid of the giant?

Dog Grooming station? ugh. Privledged upper crust idiots.

Patrick Thornton said...

While it does suck that it is going to take so long to redo this development, it's not an easy undertaking. This development is several different buildings, all of which have tenants. They are interested in minimizing disruption to their tenants while they redo this space. So they'll do one building at a time, instead of trying to do everything at once, which may take longer, but it will be less disruptive to the area.

I do hope that MoCo and "the community" don't hold this up. South Silver Spring badly needs this area rebuilt, and it's good for all of Silver Spring and MoCo. If this could be completed by 2030 that would be great. If it drags on longer than that and many of the good ideas are shelved, we'll have missed a real opportunity here.

There is virtually nothing about the existing development that is good for the area. It's a giant surface parking lot, it's hard to walk around in, it doesn't have the density it should and there is no green space. It's about as bad as a parcel of land this close to a metro stop can get.

I am curious to hear more about the first phase and when they'll begin getting the green space portions of this in. That surface parking lot needs to go ASAP and be replaced by hopefully underground parking or a garage.

Anonymous said...

I oppose this based entirely on "dog grooming station". Lame.

Anonymous said...

An unbelievably big deal. Ellsworth/Veterans Plaza 2.0. And this time completely privately funded with more than a half BILLION dollar investment. Simply amazing.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, a few years ago we were hoping the freakin trees growing through what is now the Charm Thai/Velatis building would be removed. Now we have Bing Thom in town showing renderings for a $625m project. Boggles the mind.

Gull said...

There is a lot to like and there are a lot of questions that remain. The applicant/owner said not to get too focused on the renderings as they are preliminary visions of what they want to do, and the architecture and amenity details may (probably will) change as they go through approval and permitting.

I don't think it's realistic to think this project would happen any faster than 20 years. There are a lot of proposed housing units here, and that has to be balanced with the number of other projects also happening around Silver Spring. It's no different than many of the proposed projects going on at White Flint, that have 20+ year construction time frames due to staging, infrastructure and financing.

Anonymous said...

Re: the Giant from WaPo:

"The Giant won’t be going anywhere for at least a decade, when Tower begins a second phase. Murn said he would like to see Giant build a new store as part of the plan. “We’ve just begun those discussions,” he said."

Anonymous said...

I used to live there too until the $100 yearly rent bumps got to be too much. I can hardly even imagine what they will be charging for the new ones. Who can afford to live here anymore?

Betsy22 said...

I realize that this is a long-term project, but I really hope that they keep at least one grocery store in this section of Silver Spring. Safeway/Whole Foods are a bit too far to walk to from Summit Hills and Falkland Chase if you're carrying a couple of bags of groceries.

Gull said...


Their plan is to work on the side of the project against Eastern Avenue first, and will not even get into the retail portion of the site for 10+ years, as there are current leases extending that long with some of the retailers.

The plan would then have them tear down the small office building, and the half of the retail center that has the Caribou, Crisp N Juicy and Orient East first, and relocate the Giant and other retailers into that part of the site. The last phase would be removal of the existing Giant once the new one is open.

With any luck, before then, the Falklands will have a new property management team that will start the approved redevelopment on that site, bringing an additional grocery store to the area anyhow. I feel the walk from Giant to Summit Hills is already too long if you have more than 2 bags of groceries!

Anonymous said...

Nice! oriental east is a good restaurant.

Lets tear it down!

Patrick Thornton said...

The area needs another grocery store, with or without Giant, especially one that ins't the bottom of the barrel like Giant. I've lived in five states, and I've never seen such crappy grocery stores as this area has. Yes, there are Whole Foods, Mom's, Trader Joe's and co-ops, but the standard grocery stores here are incredibly bad. Giant and Safeway are just such horrible stores with bad food and even worse service. You simply don't get stores like that in other areas.

I live three blocks from Giant, and if I never stepped foot in it again, I'd die happy. They never have enough staff and it takes forever to get in and out of that place. The fresh food selection is abysmal, the bakery is virtually non-existent, the meat selection is both gross and lacking, etc. I don't know how people shop there.

And don't give me the whole Giant is cheaper crap. Stores like Whole Foods have bulk bins filled with beans, rice, oats, wheat, quinoa, nuts, etc. that make shopping at them very cheap if you want to. You can even get spices for really cheap in bulk bins at certain stores. And there is a lot of produce that stores like Giant simply don't have, and much of what they do have isn't very good.

Another grocery store on this side of the metro would give us more options and take off some of the load on the existing grocery stores in the area. I hope a Harris Teeter or something decent comes our way. And maybe Giant wouldn't be so bad if there was less demand placed on it.

I go to Whole Foods or the farmer's market on weekends or the co-op in Takoma Park or even pick up food in DC while at work and bring it home, even though I walk by Giant every day on my way home from work. And that parking lot and sidewalk in front of the Giant is terrible pedestrian unfriendly. That whole shopping plaza is a massive turn off to those of us who actually live in the area and walk places. This new development can't come fast enough.

Basically, what I'm saying is that if Giant didn't want to be here anymore because of the construction or increased rent, and a grocery store that was actually enjoyable to shop at moved in, South Silver Spring would be better off.

If the new Falklands development does get a decent grocery store, I'll probably end up going down there a lot to shop.

Gull said...


I agree the safeway and Giant we have in Silver Spring are both terrible, both as stores, and as examples of what other stores in their respective chains can be. I actually wrote a long complaint to the Giant management a couple weeks back expressing that i've shopped at Giant for years in other locations throughout Maryland as i've moved around, and this store was by far the worst Giant i've been in. The Giant here is not cheaper than Whole Foods, but the Giants 10 miles up the road are much cheaper. I'd imagine rent is high for this location and they've cut services and raised prices to compensate.

I'm not sure where else in the country stores are better. Most of my domestic travels have been south, and maybe that's the bad example of where to find better grocers, but the stores around Richmond, Charleston, Pensacola and Orlando have all left a lot to be desired, making me almost miss Giant!

The rumor is the Falklands grocer was going to be a Harris Teeter,I don't know if this was because of actual negotiations, or just the assumption that they're the main store missing, but i'd suggest we're 2-3 years away at the earliest in seeing any movement on that site, since someone new has to purchase it, and if IF they decide to go through with the redevelopment, they'll almost certainly propose amendments to make the plans what they want to do, which will take time for the public review process to run its course.

Anonymous said...

Dan's write-up notes that a new grocery store will be included in the redevelopment (which obviously makes sense considering it's size) and that the current Giant isn't going anywhere until after 2024 since that's when their lease is up. I, too, never shop at the current Giant because it's easily one of the worst (and most over priced) stores in the region. 2024 can't come soon enough.

Justafed said...

The redevelopment in DTSS won't be done until they put up the "Welcome to East Behesda" sign.

More seriously, I work in Bethesda and hear a lot of informal complaining about how hard it is to make ends meet on that $300K annual's just a matter of time.

Elysian said...

I'm being kicked out of my too high but do-able rent apartment to make way for new luxury apartments. *sigh* This is why I have to, sadly, leave Silver Spring. I have until the end of the year to move, and unfortunately there's nothing in SS that I can afford anymore.

Elysian said...

I'm being kicked out of my too high but do-able rent apartment to make way for new luxury apartments. *sigh* This is why I have to, sadly, leave Silver Spring. I have until the end of the year to move, and unfortunately there's nothing in SS that I can afford anymore.

Anonymous said...

Elysian, what place are you talking about? The Blairs? There are many places more affordable than them. Summit Hills if you want to stay on that side of the tracks or Silver Spring Towers, Twin Towers, etc. if you want to move to the other (better) side of the tracks.

Elysian said...

I live in the least expensive, oldest building in the Blairs, hence the first one set for demolition, and at last check (just a few months ago) there was nothing else the size of what I have for the price I have. Of course I could get something cheaper if I downsized significantly.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard anything about Silver Spring Park (Moda Vista)? Periodically over the past 5 years, the developer has given a 6 month start date, and then nothing ever happens. Is this project not happening?

ES said...

If you think the Giant is bad, try the Safeway. At least Giant's produce isn't wilting. Service is even worse in the Safeway, too (mind-boggling as that is).

Craig said...

You want a Wegmans for Montgomery County? Want more Harris Teeters in the county? Maybe more Whole Foods stores so the Silver Spring location isn't insanely crowded all the time?

Change the county liquor licensing laws. Right now, grocery stores in Montgomery County cannot sell beer and wine in supermarkets. Only the older stores like Sniders were given an exemption from the regs.

Beer and wine sales are significant cash cows for upscale chains like Wegmans, Harris Teeter and Whole Foods. If the county updates the law by allowing the sale of wine and beer in stores then you will see more competition against the crap chains like Giant and Safeway.

Maybe Whole Foods will add a store to Bethesda. Maybe a new Wegmans will be built some where off Route 29. Maybe Harris Teeter will build a store in downtown Silver Spring--maybe in Shitty Place?

But the upscale grocery chains will NOT invest in space in Montgomery County until the alcoholic beverage laws are changed. Time to lobby the County Council.

Gull said...


First, where did this rant come from? I don't see a comment, or a part of the article that provoked it.

Second, you are right that there are laws that do not allow beer and wine to be sold in Grocery Stores, but it's a STATE requirement that the County is left to enforce. The same argument happens in Baltimore and Howard Counties all the time. The liquor laws we can lobby the County about would include County vs privately owned hard liquor sales, or the food to liquor sale ratio in restaurants.

Sure grocery stores like being able to sell beer and wine, but i'd say the current STATE law has not held back the nicer grocery store development too much.

There are already 5 Whole Foods stores - Silver Spring, Friendship Heights, Westbard, White Flint and Kentlands. There is a 'grocer' that has been proposed in the new highrise tower at 7900 Wisconsin, I can only assume it may be another Whole Foods when looking at the list of existing stores in DT Bethesda.

There are 4 existing and 2 soon to be built Harris Teeters - White Flint, Park Potomac, Darnestown, Olney, Clarksburg, DT Bethesda. There also is/was proposed to be a grocery store as part of the Falklands redevelopment, which was rumored to be a Harris Teeter, based again on it being the 'missing' area chain.

A Wegmans under construction in Germantown, with an existing store in Columbia, which would diminish the chances of one along the 29 corridor.

for what it's worth, most Safeway stores that have remodeled are also nice inside, i'm not sure what's wrong with Silver Spring's store but i've been in plenty of nice Safeways in MD that do not have beer and wine.

Anonymous said...

Silver Spring Safeway is staffed by incompetent idiots, is dirty and it's customer base are basically homeless people who trash the place.

Anonymous said...

Gull, enough with the facts. We don't need none of them 'round these parts! ;)

Anonymous said...

I agree about the Safeway, which is closest to my house, but which I generally avoid because it is quite lousy. When I complained about the quality of that store once to an acquaitance, I got accused of being racist! Shouldn't we all deserve a good clean store?!

Anonymous said...

No, because any factual comment that people are acting foolish or are trashy is "racist" in Silver Spring leftie land.

Perry said...

It appears Sushi Jin has now reopened.

Anonymous said...

anyone tried it?

lilkunta said...

@ gull : You are CRAZY is you think the Whole Foods bulk bins are cheaper than Giant.

and for those complaining about how hard it is to walk from giant/whole foods with more than 2 grocery bags: why not invest in a push cart. I have!

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