Thursday, August 22, 2013

Something Maybe Actually Kinda Happening With City Place?

"No, really, hear me out. City Place is going to be GREAT!" - Developer, 1989

After years of false starts and empty promises, it looks like something might finally be happening with City Place ("Ellsworth Place"?). A development application sign has been posted outside announcing changes to the facade and streetscape. I searched the plan number on the county's development website, but no results were returned.

Thanks to reader E.T. for the photo.

Hopefully this is a signal that Petrie Ross Ventures' announced makeover of City Place is finally underway. Let's just hope that things will improve on the inside, not just the outside (insert "lipstick on a pig" reference here). I'm still waiting for the announcement of the great new tenants they supposedly have lined up.



62 comments:

Anonymous said...

As previously noted... we'll soon be calling this "Smellsworth Place".

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of that tv ad from the 1968 Presidential election in which they just show the words "Spiro Agnew for Vice-President" and accompany it with 20 seconds of laughter.

Anonymous said...

Add.a.damn.sportsbar.for.the.love.of.all.that.is.holy. (no-galaxy doesn't count)

chapoutier said...

For what it's worth, I think they have the wrong Plan number on that sign. The last thing I can find on the Planning Board's site dealing with City Place is 81988046D. Would make sense that the next amendment would be 81988046E, not 81998046E.

But in any case, I can't find anything under that number either.

Sligo said...

Personally, I think it should have been called "Fellsville Place" in honor of the 3 streets that border it.

Anonymous said...

For the love of God, can't the county buy this crappy property and turn it into a county recreational center with indoor swimming, ice-skating, racketball, or something other than what some seem to consider "retail"?

Sligo said...

It should have been the Library.

Anonymous said...

I saw the companies presentation, and it looks like it will be nice. Their going to open up the street to cafe's and the like up Fenton and along Colesville. There'll be a cut through for pedestrians and more lighted signage at the clock facing the civic center. Best of all, every corner of the globe will be represented in the secutiry guards at all times.

Anonymous said...

The land's too valuable to remain wasted. I don't think there's any doubt the renovation will happen. Granted, it'll take time. I'm no expert, but I'd think it'd take at least a couple more months for the amended plan to make its way through Planning Board, and then assuming it passes it'll take at least 6 months after that for them to obtain permits (if they already have the project bidded out, that is, which they might not), so I can't imagine this would start before next summer.

Anonymous said...

The plan is #81988046E and is called Minor Site Plan Amendment. The key word is MINOR. Very little is being proposed - a few things on the exterior and that's about it.

chapoutier said...

"The plan is #81988046E and is called Minor Site Plan Amendment. The key word is MINOR. Very little is being proposed - a few things on the exterior and that's about it."

Damn it Anon. Why do you always have to mess up our dreams?

Robert said...

Sligo is right; it should have been the library. And we would have already had a bridge to the parking garage making it easily accessible for the handicapped and people with small kids and lots of books.

Anonymous said...

Of course the site plan amendment is just for exterior changes. Obviously, they don't need Planning Board approval for interior changes.

Having a public library taking up a fraction of a floor in a windowless mall is quite possibly the most nonsensical thing I've ever heard.

chapoutier said...

Having a public library taking up a fraction of a floor in a windowless mall is quite possibly the most nonsensical thing I've ever heard.

More nonsensical than its current (and near future) use which is... exactly nothing?

Robert said...

The library wouldn't have been a fraction of a floor. It would have been a very large part of the City Place building. Take a look at the new library building under construction at Wayne and Fenton. That's equivalent to a lot more than a fraction of one floor at City Place.

Anonymous said...

Right, chapoutier, it makes so much sense to go from having 2nd rate stores to having a 2nd rate library frankensteined into a mall floorplate. Way better than a bran new new library (in a space conducive to - you guessed it - a library) and a renovated mall. Totally sucks how this has all worked out. Boo nice things.

Robert, the mall is 400,000 sqft. Of course the new library is only a tiny fraction of that size. You need a serious lesson in scale/common sense.

Sligo said...

The library would not have to be in the exact and compete footprint of City Place as it is configured now. The remaining space could be used for something else. It would be right on the corner of the main shopping area the way the library is now. Not that it matters now anyway. After 20 years we'll finally get our new library and shitty place will still suck.

Sligo said...

The way the Rockville library is now, I mean.

chapoutier said...

Anon,

I never said it was an ideal situation. I simply called you out on your absurd assertion that it was somehow so entirely nonsensical. Of course we would like some magic urban planning fairy with unlimited funds to come down from urban planning fairy land and maximize every square foot of DTSS to its best and most profitable use. But we happn to live in something I like to refer to as "reality". And in this "reality" DTSS has been without a library space in the actual burgeoning urban center for what? 15 or so years now? And City Place has wallowed in irrelevance and vacancy and been passed from one developer with grand talk and zero initiative to the next developer with grand talk and zero initiative for about that same amount of time. Honestly, how much of a chump must you be to keep thinking "THESE guys will be different and THIS will be the time they finally get it right and deliver us the 'renovated mall' we need'"? Jesus Christ, it's like Lucy and Charlie and the football.

In summary, I would much rather replace a mall no one uses with a library that is not ideal but far better situated than the current one at a fraction of the cost of building from scratch. Reasonable people may disagree, but to call the idea entirely "nonsensical" is just stupid, inflammatory rhetoric, the type which far too often rears its head here.

Anonymous said...

Right, chapoutier, me calling the idea of putting a library in a mall "nonsensical" is inflammatory, but you calling me "stupid" isn't. Got it. So sorry me pointing out that the mall is 1. a freakin mall, 2. windowless, 3. about THREE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND sqft too big, 4. not even remotely close to the floorplate needed means I'm the one not living in "reality". You're so right. Paying $30M old ass mall to Frankenstein it into a library is really an idea based on reality.

chapoutier said...

Once again, you ignore the reality of what Sligo said, which was not using the whole thing as a library and not exactly as it sits now.

Try reading what is ACTUALLY being said and stop tossing up obvious strawmen. Start with the original linked article where Sligo says it would "mirror the set up of Rockville Town Center" wherein the library uses a fraction of the space and the rest is filled with...wait for it...other businesses! Crazy idea I know!

And I didn't call you stupid (again with the reading comprehension). I called the use of the phrase "the most nonsensical thing I've ever heard" stupid. Because it is. And the reason we know this is because it has worked before, see Rockville Town Square Library.

But, like Sligo said, too late now.

Anonymous said...

Putting the library in City Place would be dumb, only becasue the library shouldn't be a "tenant" in some non-descript windowless department store. Clearly one could punch windows and dress up an entrance, but it would still be a tenant in a larger building.

Like the wonderfull civic center, a stand alone library is an asset that helps create a strong civic identity. As much as I don't care for the design, it's a strong and identifiable building that will add a lot to our community.

As for the incessant shitty bashing, the vacant Fenton Village does so much more to sap DTSS of vitality than City Place ever will, becasue if anyone hasn't noticed, theres a ton of live aroung the old mall.

Unfortunatly, everytime someone wants to add life to Fenton Village, we have to hear from the fear mongers who worry that the "Village's" character will be steam rolled by evil developers. Fortunatly, raw economics will make their voice ever more shrill, and DTSS's vitality will expand into Fenton Village, AKA, old Silver Spring.

Anonymous said...

Once again chapouter is wrong and a jerk to boot. The library in the mall is a terrible idea (nevermind that the idea of public libraries in todays modern climate is a debate in of itself).

It doesn't fit and the space is all wrong for it. And to use part of it for that would cripple the rest of the space (not that the rest of it is not already crippled).

I do agree with him that it's not the worst idea ever, but it's pretty bad. Bad enough that it doesn't warrant much serious thought.

chapoutier said...

Another anon that ignores the fact that it has actually worked elsewhere under very similar circumstances in a very similar environment.

The only reason it doesn't warrant serious thought is because that ship has already sailed. So we'll have a new library, which I am sure will be lovely, and still absolutely no vision or hope for arguably the most prime piece of real estate in the area.

chapoutier said...

Here are some more actual real life examples of the most nonsensical thing ever.

http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Mall-Library-Proving-Wildly-Successful-97848104.html

http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0823/p12s02-ussc.html

http://libraryarchitecture.wikispaces.com/Libraries+in+Shopping+Malls

Anonymous said...

"would "mirror the set up of Rockville Town Center" wherein the library uses a fraction of the space and the rest is filled with...wait for it...other businesses! Crazy idea I know!"

Huh? How is City Place MALL anything like Rockville's library? So the idea is that the new library would take up part of 1 floor of the mall, e.g. the Marshalls space, and then the rest would remain as-is? Do you understand how ghetto that sounds? A library as a tenant in a windowless mall (that, no, can't have windows poked into most of it due to the facade being historic). Maybe that makes sense in somewhere severely economically depressed, but MoCo and DTSS definitely deserve an actual library. Or are you saying the County should buy all of City Place mall ($30M), demo it ($8m), disrupt or destroy the half of Ellsworth that's inside the mall, then rebuild a proper library on the site ($70M), instead of just building a new library on the site already govt owned at a fraction of the cost? Which one of these options is the "reality" you're trying to forward that I'm so clearly missing with my poor reading comprehension?

Sligo said...

Well, all sorts of buildings have been re-purposed, so I'm sure creative architects could come up with a workable solution. Remember that City Place was a single department store before it was a mall and had a significantly different layout.

You could have the first level as retail, with the existing corner entrance leading to a escalator that takes you up to the second level, where the main level of the library would be. (I believe this is how the actual new library is.) You could have library and all the meeting space take up a couple floors, then re-purpose the top floors for office space, etc. Wasn't that the plan at some point, anyway?

As far as the building being "historic", I don't know if there's an official designation that prevents changes like windows being installed. If that were the case, they probably couldn't have that horrible ugly signage they do now.

Also note that when the original post was written five years ago, there was no library under construction and City Place was dead and half empty. At least one of those things has changed.

What will be the total cost of the new library? I would expect it might be more than what rehabbing Shitty Place might be, but who knows. All the complaints about parking, skybridges, etc. would have been moot.

Regardless, it was just an IDEA. It would have been interesting to see some official report on the feasibility of it. God knows they had plenty of time.

Anonymous said...

Why are we beating a dead horse about the library vis-a vis City Place. It ain't goin' into Shitty Place. Get over it and move on. No need for all this what might have been sh..

And BTW City Place ain't gonna change until Silver Spring changes. S.S. isn't Bethesda or even Rocville or even the Silver Spring of the 50's and 60's.

Sligo said...

Silver Spring has changed. City Place has not.

chapoutier said...

Maybe that makes sense in somewhere severely economically depressed...

...like Rockville?

This very thing has been done in all sorts of areas, if you were to read what I linked to. Upscale urban neighborhoods in Dallas, bedroom communities with a small, dense central business district (sound familiar), Seattle has several such locations throughout the city. Co-op City in the Bronx has one, one of Savannah, GA's suburban mall's has one...

Gull said...

The proposed amendments to City Place actually make some major changes to the outside, but they are decorative and/or move doorways and windows which is why the amendment is only limited in nature. The plan is also to totally re-do the inside layout to accommodate larger stores and to work with the new entrances and windows on the street.

The plan for offices on top of the Mall is separate and in theory is still standing. They have preliminary plan approval for 8 floors of additional office on top of the mall, that would need a site plan approval to be built. The current amendment does not change the preliminary plan approval for that office space, but also does not propose constructing it.

I don't think using part of the old Mall for a library (would need to be at least 2 full floors for the books, media resources and meeting space) would have been a bad idea, but I imagine the site under construction was chosen in part because of the access to the Purple Line, which has been proposed for years.

Anonymous said...

Sligo: Silver Spring has not realy changed, yet. Until the customer base wants a change for City Place, City Place will remain as is. That's why S.S. became what it is now. $$$ talk.

Anonymous said...

chapoutier, Rockville's library isn't in a freaking mall, for the last time. Get over it. And maybe visit Rockville sometime if you're going to comment on it.

Sligo, City Place hasn't changed? The previous owner spent millions on the Ellsworth side to accommodate a half dozen new restaurants. Then in 2007 they sold it to the new owner who, now that we aren't in a credit crunch cluster fuck, is going to reno the remainder of the interior as well as liven up the Fenton and Colesville sides (and add another entrance on Ellsworth - removing Galaxy from existence to boot - yay!). I hate Shitty Place and malls in general as much as everyone else in the world and the false start in 2007-2009 sucked, but oh well. Half of DTSS and 99% of the rest of the world was stalled then, too. Hopefully the delay is worth it and this iteration gets off the ground.

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't with the demographics of DTSS, obviously, the problem is that exactly 4 people in the 21st century want to hang out in malls.

Anonymous said...

Hence why Ellsworth and Fenton can charge $$$$$$$$$$ and the likes of City Sports, H&M, Ann Taylor, NY & Co., Men's Wearhouse, etc., will pay it, but City Place can't attract retailers of that caliber even at a tiny fraction of the rent.

chapoutier said...

chapoutier, Rockville's library isn't in a freaking mall, for the last time. Get over it. And maybe visit Rockville sometime if you're going to comment on it.

I've been, almost moved to that area a few years back. And hmmm..."a large building or series of connected buildings containing a variety of retail stores and typically also restaurants." Sounds like Rockville Town Center to me. But if that isn't enough proof for you go ahead and actually research the subject. You will find many, like the one in Dallas in the article I linked to, that are in whatever definition of "mall" you seem to have. I doubt you'll do this because that would require effort and it is so much easier and more satisfying to spout off tripe like "most nonsensical idea ever!"

You can prefer a library NOT be in a mall, and there are fine reasons for doing so (look at the person who reasonably pointed out the new location's proximity to the planned Purple Line station), but mostly what this argument has boiled down to is strawman ("You are going to put a 50K sqft library in a 400k sqft space!") and arguments that boil down to "It's just stupid" without giving any real rationale why. My favorites are "it would be a tenant in a larger space" Ummm...okay, but why is that necessarily bad? Or "it would cripple the rest of the space." Why? I guess just because, that's why.

To point: Whatever you want to call it the point is that public libraries are not uncommon in commercial developments, in fact can be major draws to that development.

Anonymous said...

I didn't give any rationale as to why putting a library in a mall isn't a good idea?? Who's the one with poor reading comprehension now? I practically wrote a book outlining a half dozen reasons when common sense should have sufficed. Chapoutier, I've agreed with you plenty in the past, but on this thread you sound like the idiot the troll always portrays you as. Arguing about, literally, nothing. The library is already being build; Rockville Town Square isn't a mall. These are verifiable facts. Now find a different thread to randomly argue with people on. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, so, how 'bout that Transit Center? Ha!

G. Money said...

Can we just have the transit center and City Place switch places with each other? It wouldn't change their functionality but it would be a change of ugly scenery.

Isayaah Parker said...

Is there a reason why they are still trying to maintain City Place as an indoor mall? We all know that indoor malls in America are becoming extinct. This is a wasted effort and it's appalling that they even think larger stores would be interested in that layout at all. Talk about lipstick on a pig, the retail on its Ellsworth side were lipstick on a pig. The layout of Shitty Place sucks when one can't even figure out where the next escalator is. SOLUTION: GUT OUT THE ENTIRE INSIDE, TURN IT INTO A HOTEL with a courtyard in the center. PUT OFFICES ABOVE THE HOTEL. DONE!!! This reminds me of CHEVY CHASE PAVILION. They made larger footprints for larger stores and made it less of a mall. But City Place has many more floors than Chevy Chase Pavilion and that GOD AWFUL basement food court at the pit of Hell. So I don't think it will work as well as Chevy Chase.

Anonymous said...

All you have to do is enliven the street scape alonf Wayne and Colesville an who cares what's upstairs any more than in Georgetown.

As long as the street experisnce is nice, it will have done its part to enliven the sidewalks around the AFI and leading into the civic space, and that whould be enough.

BTW, that's what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

I just want Borders back. Or a new Barnes and Noble. Is that too much to ask?

Anonymous said...

"I just want Borders back. Or a new Barnes and Noble. Is that too much to ask?"

The sun will eat the earth before anyone ever builds another bookstore. It's over. Soon you will be happy to live in a place that's only a 25 minute drive from Politics & Prose.

Anonymous said...

"Is that too much to ask?"

Considering it's not 1992, yes, it is too much to ask. I'd recommend counting your blessings for still having a used bookstore in town and easy access to B&N, because they won't be around forever....

Anonymous said...

libraries are just as outdated and useless but we are still building one of those

Sligo said...

Hey, I still use the library, though I just go in to pick up the materials I have reserved online.

Anonymous said...

"libraries are just as outdated and useless but we are still building one of those"

How wealthy are you that you can buy every single last book/movie you use? Or do you just live alone and not read? Either way, it's safe to say you don't speak for the majority.

A lot of people use libraries. A lot of people use bookstores, too, but those have to be profitable which is where they run into issues. Everyone just browses and then buys for cheaper on Amazon or gets it for free at a library.

Clancy said...

Once I had a kid, my use of the MoCo library went from 0 to all the time. Before that, I primarily used the library at my university/work to get books that were too expensive or obscure/niche to simply purchase. Public libraries are wonderful community assets. If you have one, you're far better off that someone who does not.

Anonymous said...

learn the interwebs. everything is free now.

Anonymous said...

You might as well be saying that money is free because you can just rob a bank. Plenty of people aren't okay with the concept of stealing media via illegal download.

Craig said...

Losing Borders really sucked for Ellsworth. Sorry, but I don't see as much traffic coming in & out of the H&M space as compared to the days when Borders occupied that space. Hell, the gameboard & children toys business that followed Borders was more alive than H&M.

Forever 21 would have been a bigger score for DTSS.

But back to Borders.

Sadly, Borders served as a library extension. Most people went in there to read magazines or books. You could even snag a table for free Wi-Fi through your laptop if you were lucky to find a place to sit. Tons of teens were reading the manga and comic book stuff in the aisles. Few people actually bought books from the store. Thus, reason number 867 why Borders failed as a business organization.

But as a social terminal for young and middle-aged in Silver Spring, the Borders was wonderful. In a way, Borders replaced the decrepit, smelly, under-sized and resource inadequate Silver Spring library. Let's hope the new library can bring a divergent and large population into the building.

Anonymous said...

Nice thought Graig. I think your're absolutley right.

Gull said...

I always see people walking around Ellsworth with H&M bags in hand. It may not be the biggest grab, but i've also never been in that area and wished there were more people down there, if anything i've wished there were a few less people when it gets crowded between movies.

Spinning this thought back to the original point over City Place - if they actually to move forward with renovations and get some big 'small anchor' size stores, the foot traffic and activity could skyrocket, and hopefully pivot some toward Colvesville and Fenton, liven that area up and upgrade some of the retail/restaurant options.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sligo, you know that new cafe you mentioned a couple months back - "923 Sligo Cafe" - here are some possible renderings and also a description of the project. I say possible since I don't actually have any intimate knowledge of the project.

http://www.mainstreetarch.com/pages/wip/sligo/sligo.html

"923 Sligo Cafe is located in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. The cafe will be an acoustic music venue as well as a neighborhood eatery. The front tenant space of the 1940's era exiting building will be adaptively re-used as a restaurant and bar. Shade for the outside dining area will be provided by a seasonably-adjustable PV solar awning structure mounted to the south facing front facade. The interior features LED lighting integrated with natural cherry, maple, and walnut ceiling and wall elements with curved forms reminiscent of acoustic guitar body curves. The bar will be fashioned from a 16 foot long slab of walnut with a live edge for patrons to touch and enjoy. The state-of-the-art commercial kitchen designed by ROI will be part of the entertainment nightly."

This would be a massive upgrade to the current, boring structure. Jackie's + Sidebar + Lotus + Vincinos (live jazz) + this cafe (live acoustic sets) makes for quite an interesting block (sorry Dragon City, update your exterior/interior and maybe I'll actually step foot in your place one of these years). I wonder if we'll see more of the autoparts buildings redeveloped in the not-to-distant future. There's one small storefront that recently was vacated so you never know...if someone out there is lookin' it could be a cool spot to set up shop....

Gull said...

Am I the only person who notices that the 923 Sligo Cafe renderings put this somewhere in a mountainous area, i'd guess southern California based on one of the views available outside the window?

Sligo said...

What, that's not the view from Sligo Avenue?

Gull said...

Sligo - I guess I don't get to Fenton Village often enough!

Anonymous said...

"The sun will eat the earth before anyone ever builds another bookstore. It's over. Soon you will be happy to live in a place that's only a 25 minute drive from Politics & Prose."

This is almost true. The exception is an area with a university. Washington Post reported this week that CUA/Brookland is getting a new Barnes and Noble.

Anonymous said...

awwwwww sNAP!

Justafed said...

Concerning bookstores in DTSS, I am afraid the best chance for a conventional bookstore was having Books-A-Million snap up the Borders lease in the bankruptcy proceedings, but that was only financially attractive if the rent were cheap enough, which it emphatically would not be at the going rate today. (This is why you are seeing other B&Ns go out as their leases expire.) But the Peterson Group made sure to join the lawsuit that blocked Borders from selling their lease, and now we have H&M plus whatever finally comes in where they are selling apartments now.

Anonymous said...

Can't make this shit up - check out a Burgerfi tweet from a couple weeks back:

Follow

BurgerFi

@Stuff_Your_Face That is great to hear! We are expanding fast and have Silver Springs, MD on our radar for the near future!

https://twitter.com/Burgerfi/status/368391282848038912

Anonymous said...

Update: Transit center will never open (well the article says mid-2014, but we know that's not actually going to happen):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/general-contractor-predicts-silver-spring-transit-center-wont-open-until-mid-2014/2013/09/10/7ef56f02-1a52-11e3-8685-5021e0c41964_story.html