Monday, June 17, 2013

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

 - Pete's New Haven Style Apizza has announced that its new Silver Spring location will officially open for business this this Wednesday at 11AM. They've also posted some photos of their completed kitchen and dining areas as well as a map of their delivery area. You can't go wrong opening a pizza joint these days - Americans love them some pizza.

- The Parks Department has proposed the construction of a downtown Silver Spring dog park in the section of Ellsworth Park immediately adjacent to the current Silver Spring library. You can view the complete proposal here (pdf).

- Curbed DC, a website which generally doesn't acknowledge the existence of Silver Spring, has elicited the usual ignorant anti-Silver Spring vitriol in the comments section of a post reporting on something that is not in Silver Spring:

Granted, the photo chosen to lead off the post is a poor representation of Downtown Silver Spring, though it does have Matthew Lesko in it.

And I've got some bad news for you wanna-be hipster Silver Spring haters currently residing in imaginary places like "NoMa" or "The Atlas District": once your children start approaching kindergarten age, you'll be moving out here with us and will learn to appreciate what we have.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

YOU CAN'T HAS CHEEZBURGER: Exit Stage Burger Lounge

When it opened on Skid Row early last year, The Stage Burger Lounge had plenty of promise. With the Fillmore having recently opened down the block, a place nearby where one could grab a quick bite before a concert (or a movie across the street at the AFI) certainly had potential. However, after subsequent changes in ownership and format, the Lounge now seems to have been shuttered for good.

I personally hadn't been in quite some time, but the transformation that apparently occurred since my last visit seems bizarre, to say the least. What started as a limited-service burger joint in the same vein as Five Guys transformed over the course of a year to a table-service restaurant with a full bar. According to one Yelp! review, they would even at times have a dance floor and a bouncer standing guard outside. I don't know what precipitated these changes, but clearly the strategy shift doesn't appear to have proved particularly effective.

While the restaurant closed down only recently, their online presence faded away some time ago, with a defunct Facebook page and a website that has been down for some time. Their Twitter feed has been silent since July. Neglecting these things is probably not the best marketing strategy in this day and age.

So why not just open a Five Guys in the same spot? From what I can tell, it'd be like printing money. Their burgers aren't all that great, but they seem to be available everywhere in North America outside of downtown Silver Spring. Five Guys even seems to thrive out on the west coast, a place where people have the option to go to the In-n-Out. Why no one has yet franchised one here is beyond me. A BGR would be even better than Five Guys.

Unrelated, but I have to give some credit to Piratz Tavern, which is still open in spite of many dire predictions made following their disastrous appearance on Bar Rescue last year.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- On a recent flight I was thumbing through the airline's in-flight magazine when I came across a large "Special Advertising Section" promoting Maryland tourism. This content would have to have been commissioned, if not produced by the state government, yet through however many stages of proofreading they still managed to get the name of one of the state's largest metropolitan areas wrong:

- Even if this type of vehicular advertising is somehow legal, it's still obnoxious. The van and its banners seem to be parked next to Veterans Plaza every weekend. MoCo regulates everything - there must be some ordinance relating to this type of visual pollution, seeing as you apparently need to obtain a permit to erect any type of signage. I expect this even qualifies the vehicle for a business tax deduction.

- The Starbucks located in the Sheraton on Georgia Avenue is open as of today, though their official grand opening (the one where they give you free stuff) isn't scheduled until the 25th.

- Has anyone tried the new curbside pickup service offered by Whole Foods? Might be a good alternative to trying to park in that lot at peak times.

- In crime news, a man was arrested for flashing women in the elevator of the Wayne Avenue garage and a suspect has been arrested in connection with the sexual assault that occurred last month behind the Four Corners post office.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

United Therapeutics Continues to Spread Through Silver Spring like a Welcome, Aesthetically-Pleasing Cancer

Over the past few years United Therapeutics has significantly expanded its footprint in downtown Silver Spring, though as its campus sits at the fringes of the Silver Spring CBD, you might never notice. They clearly design for an audience, and have one of the cooler public spaces in town - a large plaza featuring a giant TV screen with a cool double-helix skybridge looking down on it.

Now Unither is trying to outo itself with a new office building planned for the corner of Colesville and Spring Streets. Once built, the thousands of drivers entering downtown Silver Spring via Colesville each day will be greeted by a large ultra-modern spaceship-like building rather than a disused parking garage. The new structure will replace the crumbling Garage 21, which United Therapeutics purchased from the county last year.

The building will serve as a workspace for about 150 employees and is as planned as a net zero structure, meaning all energy used will be produced on-site, primarily via the solar arrays positioned on its roof and elsewhere around the building.

It will include ground-level retail and landscaped public areas, hopefully drawing more pedestrians to the surrounding streets. There will also be a new pedestrian walkway (to be dubbed the "BioPath") that will run along the edge of the building and connect Colesville and Cameron streets.

Of course, many grandiose plans around here don't ultimately come to fruition. Remember when the Chelsea School commissioned Studio Daniel Liebskind to design a replacement for their aging campus? That was bold, but unrealistic. Eventually they just sold out to developers, which was probably the logical thing to do in their case.

Even more modest proposals often get significantly changed (for the worse) before any ground is broken. For example, here's the original 2008 proposal for a residential building at 814 Thayer Avenue. Like it or not, at least it's distinctive.

 And here's the current, watered-down proposal - a nondescript generic structure. *Yawn*

This particular development has mirrored the glacial pace of a lot of other local projects, as the existing office building at that address was purchased way back in 2006 and still stands empty today.

Of course the difference in United Therapeutics' case is that the building is for them and they need not worry about things like vacancy rates and price per square foot. If they have the money, they can do whatever they damn please. I'm really glad that someone is building new office space rather than more apartments.

I can't even envision The Community fighting this one, though one should never underestimate the power of the Dark Side.

Thanks to JT for forwarding me these plans!