Silver Spring's Ripley District, once home to a derelict strip of parking garages and auto body shops, has had its share of growing pains in the current economic climate, but signs of progress are sprouting up in the form of construction and design reviews for area projects. The Ripley District, a triangular parcel of downtown Silver Spring between Bonifant Street, Georgia Avenue and the B & O Railroad, is one of Montgomery County's reinvention projects in an effort to bolster the growth of Silver Spring. Planned residential and commercial projects are in various stages of development, one building is almost finished, others are waiting on the sidelines.
The County approved designs for the Midtown Silver Spring residential building in September 2008, but developer Home Properties is back with altered plans, a new project name - Ripley Street North - and a new architect - Shalom Baranes Architects. The team submitted amended plans earlier this month. The developer expects to go before the Planning Board shortly after their February meeting with the Design Review Committee. The new plans, though still tentative, would increase the total number of residential units by 50 to 396 and, of the total, 49 will be moderately priced. Though the team has made several adjustments to areas including public use space and building setbacks, the planned structure maintains a 5.0 FAR density rating.
According to Elza Hisel-McCoy a Coordinator within Montgomery County Planning Department's Development Review Division, depending on the comments from the Design Review Committee, the Planning board could review the project six weeks to two months thereafter. More information will be available once the DRB makes recommendations and the Planning Board staff issues a review, likely to come this spring.
Hisel-McCoy added that another planned residential project, the Lessard Group-designed 1150 Ripley, formerly know as 1050 Ripley, has all of its approvals, but there have been no signs of forward motion so far. The approved Washington Property Company plan is for a 306,000- s.f. residential building that will include 318 rental units including 48 moderately priced dwelling units and 7,000 s.f. of commercial space. Evan Feldman, a Development Manager for Washington Properties, indicated that the team is working on financing right now, but expects to begin construction in April of this year, despite the lack of a general contractor. Once construction begins, Feldman expects the first units to be available in 18 months and the entire project to deliver in 21 months.
For some actual progress in the district, Division One Architects, the minds behind the Lacey, have been working on a brand new headquarters building for ALC, Inc., which will sit on the southwest corner of Ripley Street at Georgia Avenue. The three level building includes a ground floor restaurant and walk up office space with green features like a sodded roof and north and east oriented facades to capture all that natural daylight. The project should deliver by April or May of this year.
The County's efforts to re-brand the Ripley District are crawling along, but the development movement so far looks promising for the future.
Silver Spring real estate development news