Thursday, January 24, 2008

Planning Board Reviews Silver Spring Galaxy Today

Today the Montgomery County Planning Board holds its public hearing on the Galaxy, a mixed-use project on two and a half acres of land in Silver Spring; approval of the project is expected. RST Development has been pushing this project through the Montgomery County application process since 2005, when the initial "project plan" - the conceptual portion - was approved.

Bounded by 13th Street to the north, Eastern Ave to the west and King street to the south, the plan which the Planning Department staff has recommended for approval, will provide 241 residential units split between two buildings, one measuring 75 feet and the other 45 feet, and will offer about 430 parking spaces and roughly 35,000 s.f. of public space. Those features, together with the most recent addition of nearly 4,000 s.f. of retail space, make the project just about the size of an entire city block - less the Aurora Condominiums. The initial plan from 2005 was slightly larger, the developer had proposed 328 residential units split between three buildings ranging in height from 45 to 125 feet, all of which would sit above a parking garage with just under 700 parking spaces, and the creation of roughly 40,000 s.f. of public space.

The public plaza, as with many of the amenities provided by developers hoping to attenuate community opposition, is designed for your typical American family: a children's play area, landscaped open space and tons of artwork including a mosaic panel designed by MD-resident Martha Jackson Jarvis and some artist-inspired benches. RST will also provide some off-site streetscape upgrades on 13th and King streets and Eastern Avenue.

So far, the coast is clear with regard to the community hindering RST's development; the firm has presented their plans to numerous civic organizations such as the Downtown Silver Spring Urban District, the Shepherd Park Community ANC and their new (hopeful) neighbors, the Aurora. According to the Planning Board's Staff Report: "To this day, Staff has not received any concerns or comments from the community."

Perhaps it is RST's generous offering of parking that prevented people from turning into protesters. Because the site is located in the "Silver Spring Parking Lot District," the development is not required to provide any on site parking. Regardless, RST will provide a 4-level parking garage, of which the above ground levels are for public use, and the below-ground levels are for Galaxy, Aurora and retail tenants.


Anonymous said...

What?? That's what's going up? That looks hideous. I thought we were on a wave of commendable architecture in Silver Spring, the rendering looks like low-income housing. Does the planning board review this for appearance?


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