There's a new highrise coming to a prime slice of Silver Spring real estate - at 8711 Georgia Avenue. Currently the site of a parking lot and bank drive-thru, the creatively-titled 8711 Georgia Avenue Parking Lot, LLC (a nome de plume of original owner Zalco Realty Incorporated that was passed onto Guardian Realty Investors, LLC after the site was sold in 2007) is looking to build a 13-story, 152,740 s.f. mixed-use building between Georgia and Cameron Street with office space, retail and, in a surprising twist, an arts plaza designed to serve as an “urban oasis” at the northern end of the Silver Spring Central Business District.
Utilizing designs by WDG Architects, 8711 Georgia plans to bring 148,278 square feet of office space and 4,462 square feet of ground floor retail to the site with “illuminated entrance features” on all four sides of the proposed building and frontage on the future Fenton Street extension - amenities intended to highlight the public arts plaza.
The elliptical plaza - being designed by local artist Martha Jackson-Jarvis - would lie on the newly extended Fenton Street and contain four separate sculptural components. The first and most complex has been dubbed the “Wave Wall,” which is described as a “flowing mosaic of brightly colored materials of many sizes and textures” that will “undulate like waves.” This will lead directly into another smaller mosaic wall. Three-dimensional sculptures – intended to “be approached, touched and studied from all sides” - will sit in front of both walls. A mid-block pedestrian arcade will provide a link between the plaza and Georgia Avenue.
Preliminary plans for the project were approved by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) way back in 2006, the final draft was approved today. Presumably, it was a rather easy decision for the M-NCPPC to reach – the project is but two doors down from their headquarters and, quite literally, in their own backyard. Ziggy Schelec of Zalco Realty, who will still oversee leasing and management of the building, described the project as being “on the fast track” with a final timeline for construction to be established next week.
If it does, it would be one of the few. Most of the recent real estate projects in Silver Spring - Silver Place, the Ripley Project, 814 Thayer, and Studio Plaza, to name just a few - have intentions to move forward, but are finding it either impossible or impractical to do so in the current environment.