Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bethel World Outreach Center Out, Undisclosed Project In

Washington Property Co. has purchased the buildings at 8242 and 8252 Georgia Avenue and the adjoining parking lot from the Bethel World Outreach Church. The new owner hasn't yet released any firm plans regarding how they plan to develop the parcel, but have indicated that they are initially considering  residential, office and hotel space.

My money's on apartments... that's what nearly all projects end up as these days, as Silver Spring seems to have been officially designated a bedroom community in developer's minds. What was the last major office building constructed in downtown Silver Spring that wasn't part of the United Therapeutics complex? I may be mistaken, but believe it was 8515 Georgia, across the street from Discovery, and that opened nearly ten years ago.

This is a good development, as this will better tie together the density of downtown Silver Spring with all the new construction in the so-called "Ripley District". (By the way, what ever happened to Ripifant Street? It doesn't seem to have made it on the map yet.)

While no longer recognizable as such, longtime residents will recall that the building at 8242 operated for many years a movie theater, originally as the Seco Theatre and then later as Roth's Silver Spring West.

Photo via Cinema Treasures. Note Dale Music, still in the same spot.
8252 was originally constructed as a bank, and served as one for many years until Bethel World purchased the property. 

If I'm interpreting the property records right, the church bought the theater in 1996 for $435,000 and the bank building for $760,000 in 1997, so even with the cost of any improvements, I expect they are realizing quite a tidy profit from the $8.2M sale price.

I wonder if they ever succeeded in selling the original bank vault doors. They were trying to do so on eBay for years.


Steve Ott said...

I worked there for a month or so in 1985 - made $2.85 per hour... but got to see Pee Wee's Big Adventure like 15 times and ate a ton of corn. I let my friends in free a bunch of times, too..
I remember seeing Batman here in 1989, too. Great theater... cool architecture inside.
The Silver, The Capri & Roths SS East and West... in the 80's... pretty cool place.

Sligo said...

I saw Batman there, as well. If I recall, it was a sneak preview the night before the official release date.

Gull said...

I agree the site will likely turn residential, although i'd hold out hope for an office project because I think this is one of the few remaining places well suited for Office in Silver Spring. With the two new apartment towers just up, and a 3rd apparently planned for the Shepherd’s Table/Progress Place project, and many hundreds that have received recent site plan approval in Fenton Village, maybe the apartment market for Ripley will be soft enough for a few years to get something else built.

I don't think the issue is as much that there is no office demand in Silver Spring, as it is a mismatch in prices. Land has gotten expensive as the area as redeveloped, but the market rate for office rents is still low, I believe in the $23-$25 per square foot range. I remember reading about a year back that developers need closer to $28-$30 a square foot to break even and even more to make money on office rents in lower MoCo. The rents are in the low $30's in Bethesda, hence some office activity there. Because apartment rents don't seem to be holding back like office rents, developers see money in apartments. Hopefully the influx of new apartments we've already seen, and the associated improvements to the streetscape, and retail offerings, will add new attractiveness to the office market, enough to raise rents $2-3 per square foot, and get a new speculative building built.

Kev said...

I saw The Naked Gun at that theater. Best night of my life.

Anonymous said...

Not quite Silver Spring, but since Georgia Ave was the talking point for today I thought I would share:

Anonymous said...

I have an idea for something we need badly in that area.

We need another 7-11.

Barring that maybe another Ehtiopian restaurant?

Anonymous said...

Anyone know when Scion is opening on East West Hwy? It looks like the inside is just about finished but they have absolutely no signage out front.

Anonymous said...

Scion opens for dinner tonight, in fact.

Anonymous said...

A developer buying those properties should be cause for concern. The height limit on Georgia is 90'-110', and there is no protection for the old buildings or street facades. This could be the project that breaks the Georgia Avenue existing heights. Say Hello to Silverthesda.
Wouldn't it be nicer to have the theater facade restored and the building converted to a brew pub?

Anonymous said...

Not another residential building!!! Is anyone keeping count of how many units are going to be built in Fenton/Ripley? Isn't it over 2,000 new apartments now. Thats alot of people. Hope they leave some space for some commercial businesses. Is lop sided growth the same as smart growth?

Justafed said...

So my analysis is at whatever they build here will have ground floor retail, and, yeah, probably apartments above. I say this because we know where the hotels are going to be built (one next to the transit center, for certain, which is why Foulger Pratt is willing to just get the freaking transit center done rather than doing the lawsuit thing).

I predict the next office building built in DTSS will be what they were allowed to build in conjunction with the Fillmore (where, kind of oddly, they built the "amenity feature" first, given the times).

Anonymous said...

condos, condos!!!

Anonymous said...

The banks are requiring that condo buildings be 40%-50% pre-sold before they will give construction loans. Only companies that can self finance the construction are building condos. Would you buy a condo in a building that isn't even built yet? We won't be seeing condo buildings until the banks change the rules.
Meanwhile all the new apartments are geared for singles and DINK's making $70,000+/year. (thats Double Income No Kids). You can rent a house in East Silver Spring cheaper than you can rent most of these 1-bed apartments.

Anonymous said...

The height limit on Georgia is 90'-110' Doesn't the height limit increase significantly just off Georgia Ave? I don't know how deep those lots are but it seems that WPC could step the building up toward the back side of the property.

Anonymous said...

According to the SS Sector Plan The height limit on the Ripley side of Georgia is 90' (9 stories). A building can then step up to 143' (15+ stories) at a 2/1 ratio. For every 2' up the angle has to step back 1'.
That's not to say that a developer can't seek added height or ask for Zoning Text Amendment to get added height. The really tall building currently under construction in Ripley is 200' (20 stories). The Solaire is going to get a twin Hi-rise next door.
The 1-2 story retail buildings along Georgia, with the old movie theater, can be torn down and replaced with a wall of 9 story buildings. The word Silverthesda is spot on. Same goes on the east side of Georgia too - nothing is protecting Quarry House from going the same way. Where do you want to hang out - Quirky Fenton Village or souless K Street?

Anonymous said...

You say that as if Wisconsin in Bethesda isn't far superior to Georgia in DTSS (and I say that as a person who finds DTSS a way better place to live than Beth, on the whole).

And you say that as if plenty of the lower GA Ave builds aren't complete crap. And you say that as if a complete buildout of GA Ave. wouldn't take 25-50 years, at least, resulting in an eclectic mix of buildings - hardly the K St. glass box district you're referencing. Almost as disingenuous as the people who deride anything above 10 stories being built as being Crystal City-like.

Anonymous said...

"Where do you want to hang out - Quirky Fenton Village or souless K Street?" Where's the Silver Spring Historical Society? They only seem to get involved once a building site is being redeveloped. A bit late then.

Anonymous said...

The Silver Spring Hist. Society proposed the Bank building be nominated for historic status several years ago. The MoCo Historic Commission turned it down, said it had no merit. The theater has been so altered that it would have to be restored to be considered historic. The Planning Board views all of existing Fenton Village as disposable.
Underneath the crappy mansard roof on Bombay Gaylord is a nice 1920's storefront. But some day soon a developer will take it down and when it goes, so will local fav dive bar Quarry House. Dive bars need old spaces with character. Its hard to be a dive in a squeeky clean new building.

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