Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Falkland Chase Apartments, Chasing a Plan for Silver Spring

One of Silver Spring's largest and most ambitious real estate projects is ramping up for development next year. Though the urban planning vision is not yet complete, developers of Falkland Chase hope to submit a site plan to Montgomery County early this summer for a project that would greatly expand the densified downtown section of Silver Spring, adding high rises, 1250 apartments, a supermarket and retail to East-West highway one block from the Silver Spring Metro.

Michael Eastwood of Home Properties says the development team has not yet signed an anchor tenant but intends to serve up a final site plan to the county "by June or July." The county approved the preliminary plan last November, and Home has been working on tweaking the design that will develop the North Parcel, turning 182 garden apartments into 1250 new apartments in 4 new buildings along the Metro track and soon to be Purple Line. The new residential towers will rise up to 14 stories along the tracks and 6-8 stories along East-West highway, denser but "more sensitive to the neighboring community."

With financing for the property still not locked down, Home Properties has been seeking a full service grocer to help tether a financing partner, courting Harris Teeter since 2005, but still without an agreement. "We are trying to chase them down" says Eastwood, who notes that his team also has the capability of going it alone in a pinch. "We're a REIT so we could do it on our own and will be building in phases."

The northern boundary faces the Metro tracks and is the "locally preferred alternative" for the Purple Line. The property features a 40 foot right of way that could serve as a light rail pass-through (the site is only one block from the station so there will be no stop incorporated), as well as a bike path right of way. Design of the project is still preliminary, and while Nelson Byrd Woltz has been selected as the landscape architect for the project, actual design has not yet been achieved.
Home Properties acquired the land in 2003 and began planning for a quick turnaround, submitting to the county in 2006. Plans were "cued up and ready to go" says Eastwood, but market fundamentals sabotaged early plans. Locals then began a campaign to declare the property - inaugurated in 1937 by Eleanor Roosevelt when the New Deal was expanding, as now, the size of government and the area's population - as historic, an ultimately successful bid that changed the scope of the plans. With many of the apartments protected, Home Properties then doubled down on the northern section switched the architect from Grimm + Parker to Shalom Baranes, increasing the number of units while connecting them better to the street. "It really took from fall of 2007 to spring of 2009 to get the two south parcels on the charts for historic preservation, and get the north to come off the locational atlas" said Eastwood. The residential towers originally conceived would have encircled a private courtyard, the new design adds a street through the center, with street-oriented buildings. "Its a more urban design than what we had originally."

Eastwood says the projects will "definitely be" rental units. Retail - about 10,000 s.f. in addition to the supermarket - will front East-West, aided by a new traffic signal.

Silver Spring, Maryland real estate development news


Critically Urban on May 3, 2011, 11:09:00 AM said...

Should be a great project.

However, the government is not expanding right now. It's contracting.

Anonymous said...

Another great project for DTSS!

Anonymous said...

Whoa dude, stick to urban planning. If you think the fed gov is contracting you should visit DC. One-third of new office space rented in DC last year was sucked up by the swelling government, and they're on a hiring binge. Don't believe Obamaspeak, when he says he is "slashing government spending", he is spending $1.5 trillion more than we make, instead of $1.6 trillion. That should be evident to you in every road sign you see that says "paid for by [insert federal program]". Wake up man.

Ben said...

@Anonymous 5:20 PM: This discussion is getting off-topic but while the federal government might have grown modestly (certainly nothing like the post 9/11 Homeland Security and Defense expansion) in the past few years, state and local govts contracted, laying off people. Almost all of the job growth in the past 1 - 1 1/2 years has been in the private sector, despite what Glenn Beck might have told you.


Ben said...

@Anonymous 5:20

The $787B Recover Act spending you referred to contained over $300B in tax cuts and tax rebates but I suppose that because Obama proposed it, these tax cuts are considered socialist now.

Additionally, much of the other spending went to such 'wastes' as the Capital Bikeshare and the Dulles metro extension both of which are have created jobs and are making the DC region better.

Andrew on May 4, 2011, 11:06:00 AM said...

Veering back on topic: Have there ever been any plans to add density to the Summit Hills parcel across the street, or will that neighborhood remain locked in the 1960s for all of eternity?

Anonymous said...

Wow, this post is so full of wishful thinking that it almost makes me cry with frustration. Among all the pixie-dust statements perhaps the following was the most outrageous:
"soon to be Purple Line"
Yeah, just like the Nationals are soon to be World Series Champions.

Ben said...

@Anonymous 3:39 PM

Do you know the timeline for construction to begin on the Purple line? I'd like to see this project begin but I agree with you, it seems like wishful thinking at this point.

Ken on May 4, 2011, 6:47:00 PM said...


Thanks for the comments. I won't veer into Obama politics, but I stand by the fact that the feds have expanded locally, whether or not you like what its been spent on. As for the Purple Line, yes, it is moving forward, but no, its not imminent. I was taking the big picture timeline, and didn't mean to imply construction was close.

Anonymous said...

The federal government is definitely expanding. That's a fact. The local government...not so much. As for this project, its going to be awesome. It would be even better if those bozos hadn't deemed parts of it a historical landmark.

Anonymous said...

Whether or not the Federal Government is expanding or contracting is beside the point, a parcel of historic Garden Apartments are going to be torn down to make way for higher density hi-rise housing. Those Garden Apartments were early versions of sustainable living, with plentiful green space around nicely sized units. What will replace them is yet more yuppie sized units geared for singles or couples - but not families. The added density and the Harris Teeter will bring greater traffic congestion to an area already hitting it's limit. There are already 4 grocery store chains within a 1 mile radius. At what point is a community over saturated by hi density housing and destination retail. Right now there is no balance to either housing or retail in Silver Spring. If you are a developer with a buck and a plan the county lets you have your way in Silver Spring.

Anonymous said...

The plan is a delusion. The one nice urban gesture is the curb cut on 16th Street, which will be deleted once DOT gets their hands on this because it is WAY too close to the existing intersections.

The rest of the 3d views posit an inhumane, overscaled place devoid of the richness of the lovely scaled buildings and landscaping they would be tearing down. Not appropriate for a pedestrian realm - these buildings are better scaled for the side of I-270, where one whizzes by at 85 miles an hour. Why would one want to sit in this place?

Shalom Baranes can achieve some wonderful facade work (22 West and the Waterfront project ar examples), but the ground plane in all of these projects are completely lacking in the soft humanity that makes the pedestrian realm pleasant. Maybe this isn't the right site for them.....

Finally, the county should require them to retain 60% of the existing mature trees....a good architect/planner would be able to acheive the same density without decimating what is lovely about the place.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe this isn't the right site for them....."

This north parcel is right next to the train tracks. It literally is exactly the place to put this density. I don't agree with the person knocking the other parcels - Falkland Chase has value and not everything in the world needs to be 18 stories high. The compromise to identify 2/3 of Faulkand Chase as historic and to demo the 1/3 along the train tracks makes a ton of sense. Now let's make sure the plans that come down the pike are pedestrian friendly and smart, urban design.

Thayer-D on May 8, 2011, 3:36:00 AM said...

I second the last two posts. They need to build this parcel out, it's as smart as the original buildings where in thier time. Just don't do another glass shard design. Getting Shalome was a real set back to those who'd like a more humane street scape in Silver Spring.

As for the purple line as pipe dream, has anyone tried to drive in this area lately. This and the BRT are going to be essential to our area's long term viability. Keep this train moving...literally.!

NIMBY said...

"As for the purple line as pipe dream, has anyone tried to drive in this area lately."
People have been saying this for 25yrs and still no Purple Line - what makes us think its any closer.

Anonymous said...

Of course the PL is still years away from construction, but of course it's moving forward and will continue moving forward considering how much O'Malley is pushing the issue. Anyways, I don't think it's that important since SS is already a public transportation mecca - it'll simply be a nice addition.


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