No Plan Yet for Former Silver Spring Library, but Other Local Projects Moving Forward
The county's general services director updates community on status of county buildings
David Dise, director of Montgomery County’s General Services Department, updated the public on county building projects in and around downtown Silver Spring at a meeting Monday night attended by about 30 residents. Here’s what he said about each project:
Former Silver Spring library on Colesville Road
The former Colesville Road library in Silver Spring. Via Google Maps Streetview
The now-closed library is a controversial subject in the community, with residents asking officials not to overwhelm the surrounding residential area with a large building. However, Dise said County Executive Ike Leggett is trying to find a way to bring childcare and affordable senior housing to the site—possibly in a new tower.
The library, which was closed when the new library opened on Wayne Avenue in 2015, is temporarily housing a bookstore run by the Montgomery County Friends of the Library while the county drafts a Request for Proposal (RFP) to solicit developers’ ideas for the property. Dise noted a developer would mostly like need to seek a zoning change for the 2.3-acre library site, which includes a surface parking lot, from its current single-family home zoning. The site is outside the Silver Spring Central Business District, which could hamper rezoning efforts.
Residents inquired about whether a recreation center would remain part of the plan for the site, as had been mentioned previously. Dise said the nearby Elizabeth Square project will include a county recreation center that will serve Silver Spring residents.
He said the community will have an opportunity to review the criteria included in the county’s request for development proposals during a meeting later this summer or in the early fall. Once it receives proposals, the county plans to choose two and ask the community for input before deciding on a project to replace the library, he said.
New Silver Spring library tenant spaces and pedestrian bridge
The new Silver Spring library. Credit: Andrew Metcalf
Dise noted that two of the three tenant spaces have been or are close to being filled at the new Silver Spring Library. Levine Music is taking over the 9,000-square-foot second floor space and is in the process of constructing its music school. Dise said Levine is expected to finish construction this fall. He said students from the music school will be performing at Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring on Monday nights in August as part of community outreach efforts.
Negotiations are ongoing with Gandhi Brigade, which recently went through County Council vetting, to take over the 3,000-square-foot basement space at the library for its youth media operation, Dise said. The nonprofit will not be charged for rent at the space, but is responsible for paying for construction related to its use and for utilities, according to the terms of the deal discussed with the council.
The third tenant space at the library—a 4,000-square-foot ground floor space that faces what will become the light-rail Purple Line station at the library—has not been leased. Dise said an RFP was issued for the space, but the county didn’t receive any viable proposals and is planning to reissue it. The county is considering a commercial or nonprofit tenant for that space. An attempt to entice Apple to open an Apple store at the space was not successful, Dise said.
One resident asked if a pedestrian bridge would be built between the library and a parking garage across the street to help make library access easier, given the busy Wayne Avenue intersection. Dise said the library was built to accept a bridge from the parking garage, but the bridge will only be constructed if the public shows enough support for it.
“It will be the public’s demand for it, if it gets done,” Dise said.
Progress Place homeless shelter
A rendering of the Progress Place homeless shelter that's being built behind the Silver Spring Fire Station. Via Washington Property Co.
The 40,000-square-foot homeless shelter being constructed behind Fire Station Number 1 on Georgia Avenue is 75 percent complete, Dise said. Officials expect the shelter to be completed this fall with an official opening scheduled for December.
The county partnered with Washington Property Co. on the project. The developer is building the 21-bed shelter that will double as a job training and healthcare provider for the local homeless population in exchange for the right to develop the nearby property housing the current Progress Place homeless shelter.
Once the new shelter is completed, Washington Property will demolish the other Progress Place building off of Ripley Street and build a 440-apartment high-rise building on the site.
ArtSpace at the former Third District Police Station
The former police station on Sligo Avenue. Credit: Google Maps
Developer ArtSpace is designing and will then seek county approval for this project that will bring 68 artist apartments and studio space to the former police station building on Sligo Avenue, according to Dise. ArtSpace will renovate the interior and keep the former police building.
He said the developer, which has built similar projects in New York City, St. Paul, Minnesota, and New Orleans, is planning a spring groundbreaking and hoping to have the project completed by October 2018.
Karen Roper, a Silver Spring activist who has helped shepherd the project, said ArtSpace is already meeting with artists in the community to discuss how they can obtain housing and studio space at the building.
ArtSpace will be responsible for paying for the construction and maintenance of the building under a 99-year ground lease with the county, Dise said. The project will also add 11 townhomes to the police station site.
AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center repairs
Photo via Silver Spring Downtown
The county recently finished laying down a new roof membrane at the historic movie theater on Colesville Road to prevent the roof from leaking, according to Dise.
He said other protective work at the theater should be completed later this month.
“We’re just happy to finally see some of the challenges that old building has faced—at least with roof leakage—will be addressed,” Dise said.
He didn’t immediately know the cost of the roof repair at the facility, which is maintained by the county through a partnership with the American Film Institute.
The council in May approved about $900,000 to support the theater in the fiscal 2017 budget.