2020 | Development

Housing Opportunities Commission moving to downtown Silver Spring

Commission to build new facility in place of parking lot

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The HOC's current headquarters in Kensington.

File photo

Montgomery County’s Housing Opportunities Commission will move its headquarters from Kensington to a new facility it intends to build in downtown Silver Spring.

The commission last week received approval from the county Planning Board to build a new facility at the corner of Second Avenue and Fenwick Lane.

The site is currently a parking lot.

The Planning Board’s approval last week was only to approve the site for some type of building. A specific building plan was not presented. However, a project representative said the Housing Opportunities Commission is considering a new building that would be about 132 feet tall.

The Housing Opportunities Commission — which formed in 1974 to respond to the county’s need for affordable housing — plans to move to its new location in Silver Spring within three years, according to county officials. The commission’s headquarters is now in a former school on Detrick Avenue in Kensington.

MCPS spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala told Bethesda Beat last year that the school district is contemplating reclaiming the facility.

MCPS could not be reached for comment on Monday.

The former school building that the HOC uses now is in the Walter Johnson High School cluster. It is 45,206 square feet and has 19 rooms. It sits on 4.54 acres, according to MCPS documents.

One resident testified during the Planning Board meeting, concerned that a new HOC building in downtown Silver Spring would block the natural light that enters through windows of an adjacent condominium building.

Matthew Folden, a county planner, said that because the county doesn’t have architectural details of the project yet, it’s difficult to know if that is true. That potential problem would be considered later in the approval process.

Before its move to Kensington in 1981, the HOC headquarters were on Fenwick Lane in Silver Spring, according to Executive Director Stacy Spann.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com