Arts Nonprofit Plans To Build Studio on Silver Spring Library’s First Floor

Arts Nonprofit Plans To Build Studio on Silver Spring Library’s First Floor

County prepares a 10-year lease for the 3,930-square-foot space that will first serve as temporary home of U.S. Post Office branch

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The Silver Spring library at the corner of Wayne Avenue and Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring

ANDREW METCALF

The County Council on Tuesday moved ahead a proposal to lease the first floor of Silver Spring Library to a nonprofit that wants to turn it into an arts and entertainment center.

The group Arts on the Block has plans to fill the 900 Wayne Ave. space with a mosaic workshop and digital design studio, retail storefront and gallery, as well as its administrative offices. But first, the council has a few tasks to complete.

On July 17, members are scheduled to consider declaring that the 3,930-square-foot space isn’t needed by the county. This finding would allow the county to enter into a 10-year lease with Arts on the Block, with the option of renewing when the decade is up. As part of the agreement, the nonprofit would make building improvements worth an estimated $250,000 and pay its share of utilities and maintenance costs.

On Tuesday, the council decided to waive the public hearing requirement for the declaration of no further need, shaving about two months from the approval process.

Council President Hans Riemer said without the waiver, Arts on the Block would have to wait until fall to begin its project.

“It is a little unusual for us not to have a public hearing. However, we’ve researched the issue carefully, and there are no concerns that have been raised about it,” he said. “And so, given that there are no concerns raised about it and that it would hamper the efforts of the group that we want to be successful in building the art space in Silver Spring, we believe it is appropriate to consider waiving the public hearing.”

Arts on the Block, a group founded 15 years ago, now has its studio in Kensington, but the move to downtown Silver Spring would make it more accessible to the teens who attend its art apprenticeship program, according to the nonprofit’s website.

Until Arts on the Block takes over its new space, a U.S Post Office branch will be working out of the location. Purple Line construction is displacing the 16th Street post office, which is making its home inside the library through the end of February 2019.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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