Monday, January 07, 2008

Ripley's Coming, Believe it or Not


Today, the Montgomery County Parks and Planning Commission held a hearing to review site plans for the 1050 Ripley St. development (pictured), to flesh out any remaining technical issues. Developer Washington Property Company plans to break ground in the Fall of 2008 on the 300,000-s.f. residential building. The mixed-use redevelopment project is located in the southwest quadrant of the Silver Spring Central Business District at the intersection of Ripley Street and the proposed extension of Dixon Avenue, just west of Georgia Ave.

Washington Property received project "plan approval" from the planning board - the first of a two-step process - on May 31, 2007, setting the overall design standards. Today's "site-plan approval" began the board's process of scrutinizing the details pertaining to easements, utilities, traffic management and other civil engineering issues, and gave Washington Properties an opportunity to receive site plan comments from the board, preparing them for a glitch-free Spring '08 approval hearing.

The 17-story apartment building, designed by WDG Architecture, will have a tad more than 300 units, all for rent, with 241 one-bedroom and 64 two-bedroom units; a little more than 15% of the total space will be "affordable." Those who anguish over parking, fear not; Washington Properties is providing underground spots for residents, keeping a small 14-parking-space cushion for staff (and assumedly guests). In addition, architects have set aside nearly 3,000 s.f. of retail space which will be set-back from the street, in order to provide outdoor dining for a potential restaurant.

"The building is designed as a basic building block which is then wrapped with layers of projecting planes, highlighted by complimentary colors on all elevations of the building. The design is based on a restrained classical form with a defined base, body, and top to the building. Simple lines, minimalist qualities, and a contemporary approach to the building design are intended to be responsive to the scale and the context of the neighborhood," said Siti Abdul-Rahman, Senior Designer at WDG Architecture, which is pretty much what we would have said.

Landscape architects have also included plans for a 14,000-s.f. public park and plaza (pictured below) which will sit adjacent to the Metropolitan Bike Trail (MBT). The park, according to WDG, will be linked to the MBT and serve mainly as a stop for weak-kneed bikers, as well as provide a public gathering spot that will tie together the redevelopment projects proposed for the Ripley District, which will someday include Midtown Silver Spring and the proposed Silver Spring Transit Center. To keep it pretty, landscape architects Hord Coplan Macht have proposed artistic elements to adorn the park's landscape.

Washington Property's "luxury" apartment building is predicted for completion in the third quarter of 2010.

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