Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Montgomery County and RST Development Open Galaxy Apartments In Silver Spring

While Silver Spring has seen a renaissance when it comes to the improvement of the downtown, with splashy new condos and best-in-brand retail, it was never going to become another Bethesda, given the eastern-side of Montgomery County's distinctly working class roots.

Still, for the most part, the redevelop- ment that has consumed much of downtown Silver Spring over the past decade meant flashy condos and apartments for 20-something and 30-somethings who walked to work, iPod in hand, to the Discovery Channel or NOAA, or took the Metro to jobs in the District. Those condos were often paired next to legacy apartment complexes for more working-class families with far fewer amenities.

Now a new apartment complex is trying to bridge that divide. This week the Galaxy Apartments at 8025 13th Street in Silver Spring opened, offering 195 units. The mid-rise, five-story building (though note the 6-story rendering) designed by A.R. Meyers & Associates and built by Clark Realty Builders has all the amenities expected by the downtown hipster class, like a swanky Vegas-style lounge created by Hartman Design Group with a bar and leather-wrapped pool table, along with state-of-the art fitness center with floor-to-ceiling windows more befitting a Hollywood spa.

The difference this time is that there will be 82 affordable units. For singles with incomes between $33,000 and $45,000 a year, a 628 s.f. one bedroom apartment with a den will go for $1,120. That compares with the market rate of $1,770 for a similarly fitted apartment in the same building.

There are similar income restrictions for larger units, up to five residents with a maximum combined income of $69,660. The affordable units have already sold out, said Karen Widmeyer, a spokeswoman on behalf of Hercules Real Estate, the management firm for the apartments.

The site was a previously a surface parking lot owned by the Montgomery County Parking Lot District, and has been in the planning stages since 2005, going through several iterations - initially with 328 units and 700 parking spaces, shrinking in size while adding significantly to its subsidized housing component. The public parking, as well as the county-owned garage, have been integrated into the unit, now with 368 spaces.

Developers are seeking to distinguish the latest affordable housing offering from the many other high-rise apartments within walking distance of the Silver Spring Metro, pointing out the Galaxy's condo-like finishes, including granite countertops, custom cabinetry, ceramic flooring, stainless steel appliances and full-size washers and dryers. "All the units have the same amenities," said Eric Burka of Streetsense, the Bethesda-based design firm which markets the Galaxy. "It's the same if its market-rate or affordable."

The Galaxy was a partnership between Montgomery County and the developer, RST Development. The financing included a tax-exempt bond mortgage of $38.5 million, provided from the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, along with a $5 million loan from the County's Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

The Galaxy will soon be joined by another mid-rise rental unit, Priderock Capital Partners' $30 million Heritage development on Georgia Avenue (rendering above) which will offer 210 rental units on 1.8 acres starting in December, currently under construction by KBR's Building Group. The Preston Partnership is the architect of record.

The Orion Condominiums are also are being constructed next to the Galaxy on 13th Street, and the 46-unit building will begin delivery this summer.

Maryland real estate development news


Anonymous said...

Glad to see the momentum of downtown Silver Spring spread this far south. The demand is incredible.

Anonymous said...

"it was never going to become another Bethesda, given the eastern-side of Montgomery County's distinctly working class roots"

This is why many (even if they can afford to live in Bethesda) prefer Silver Spring.

jag said...

Indeed, 2nd anon. Not as a knock on Bethesda - it's the best of what it is and I certainly wish City Place was filled with the likes of an Apple Store, but I think the past decade has made clear that most Millennials prefer an authentic neighborhood.

Much of Bethesda feels like a really nice version of "Anywhere USA," while the vast majority of downtown Silver Spring (outside of Ellsworth) is locally owned (many by African and Latino immigrants) and completely one of a kind. The fact so many people recognize the value in that gives me much hope that, no matter how many thousands of units come online every year, Silver Spring will continue holding onto what's made it great.

Anonymous said...

I love that rendering. What kind of reflective material is that five-story, six-story building made out of?

Critically Urban on Feb 14, 2012, 3:51:00 PM said...

Agree with Anon #2 and jag. Although Silver Spring's "roots" are decidedly not working-class, but rather very much white collar/wealthy landowner. Downtown Silver Spring became a bastion of the working class (though not as much these days) during the period from the 1970s to 1990s. Prior to that, it was quite the destination (not to mention the enormous destination it has become today). Downtown Bethesda also became more working class during this period, and only began its renaissance during the last 15 years. While downtown Silver Spring is more diverse, downtown Bethesda's roots are not far-removed.

Patrick Thornton on Feb 15, 2012, 11:06:00 AM said...

The building is six stories with five stories of rental units.

It's been a little unclear to me, however, if this building has retail space available.

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