Planning Board Passes Redevelopment Proposal for Its Own Headquarters

Planning Board Passes Redevelopment Proposal for Its Own Headquarters

Project on Georgia Avenue envisioned as a gateway to downtown Silver Spring

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Early drawing of the proposed residential development at 8787 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring.

Bozzuto

Developers walked into the county’s planning headquarters this week banking on the notion that the downtown Silver Spring building will no longer exist in 10 years.

The Bozzuto Development representatives came to participate in a Montgomery County Planning Board discussion about a proposal to redevelop the site at 8787 Georgia Ave. with up to 413,821 square feet of housing and up to 50,000 square feet of retail space.

The board on Monday signed off on the sketch plan for the roughly 5-acre property that the department aims to vacate in favor of a new, 14-story government building in Wheaton Triangle, at the corner of Grandview Avenue and Reedie Drive.

Bozzuto’s proposal for the Georgia Avenue property is still in flux, but the company reported it has been working with the planning staff and community members to create a gateway to Silver Spring’s business district. The project will also act as a transition zone to the Woodside Park neighborhood just to the northwest.

Company representatives showed up asking for more wiggle room in the design of the mews, a corridor of open space that will bisect the building project and connect the neighborhood with the downtown area. But board members did little to ease up on language that would provide for a roughly 45-foot mews and 15-foot separated bikeway that would pass through the corridor.

Planning board Chairman Casey Anderson said the bikeway doesn’t have to be 15 feet on the nose, but it should come close.

“To prevent people basically from banging their elbows and handlebars against the walls as they’re going through the mews,” he said.

The board members agreed to add the word “approximately” to the requirement and said developers can refine the details with planning staff as the process moves forward.

Three Silver Spring residents showed up to testify at the hearing and said they appreciated the collaborative attitude that Bozzuto has shown so far. However, resident Katherine Anderson emphasized that the project should relate well with the neighboring residential community and said describing it as a “gateway” leaves her wondering.

“I’ve been assured that it’s not going to be like the Ellsworth gateway … that has neon lights all over it, but it seems consistently to be a tower,” she said.

County planners said they’ll keep working with Bozzuto to make sure the buildings of up to 90 feet don’t have a negative impact on Woodside Park.

Meanwhile, construction has already begun on the Wheaton Triangle building that will accommodate the planning department, the county’s parks and permitting services department, a division of the Department of Environmental Protection and the Mid-County Regional Services Center. The building is scheduled for completion in 2019.

A concept plan for the development that might replace the planning headquarters on Georgia Avenue. Via Montgomery County Planning Department.

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