There's yet another residential project in the works for downtown Silver Spring. Independent developer Theo Margas hopes to deliver his Bonifant Plaza project to so-named Bonifant Street in the heart of the suburban city's Central Business District. Since filing plans with the Montgomery County Planning Board more than two years ago, progress on the Bonifant has been slow coming due to traffic issues - but that's something that could begin to turn around as early as next month.
Located on an unaddressed parcel within a stone's throw (approximately 135 feet) of Georgia Avenue, the Bonifant Plaza would measure in at roughly 115,000 square feet and sport new 72 new rental apartments with the same number of private parking spaces. (As required by Montgomery County statutes, 12.5% of those units must be devoted to affordable housing – which amounts to 9 sacrificial units for the developer.) The 9-story project is being designed Silver Spring-based architects AR Meyers & Associates and, though current plans don’t include a retail component, Margas has still not discounted an alternative that would allow him to service the heavily trafficked Silver Spring corridor. “The zoning…doesn’t allow for ground floor retail,” he says. “If for some reason that changes, then we would pursue putting ground floor retail in. But at this point there’s no retail in the designs for the project.”
Per recommendations made by Planning Board staff and the Maryland Department of Transportation, Bonifant Plaza has been on hold pending a design adjustment of the of alleys intended to service the new building. At one point, there had been concerns that the recently resolved issue of Purple Line’s prospective route could also impact the site, but with both matters now headed towards a speedy resolution, the project will return before the Board next month. ““[That meeting is] only for the budget plan, and we still have the site plan,” says Margas. “We’re not going to be at [the final] stage until sometime after budget approval.” Meanwhile, Margas concedes that a final timeline and cost analysis for the Bonifant project will be contingent on the next phase of the approval process, but seems confident that 2009 will be the year that Bonifant Plaza joins its fellow Silver Spring CBD projects – like SilverPlace, 1050 Ripley, the Adele, 8227 Fenton, and 8711 Georgia – on the docket of County-approved developments.