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No Immediate Plans for the Parking Lot at The Blairs

The parent company is looking to redevelop the site, but a public park may be far in the future.

The Blairs, a residential and commercial development on East-West Highway, might be home to a public park in the future, but any plans are still premlinary, according to a representative from the development's parent company. 

Reports surfaced earlier in the month that part of the parking lot of Giant grocery store might become green space, but John Marcolin, planner coordinator/urban designer for Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, told Patch that no formal plans have been submitted to his department. 

The parking lot was one of 13 sites studied as part of the planning department's Silver Spring Green Space Guidelines, a supplement to the Silver Spring Sector Plan. The sector plan called for more parks downtown but didn't specify where, Marcolin said. Of the 13, five were singled out as having the most potential to become small parks—about an acre or smaller. 

The Blairs was one of the top five, Marcolin said, but actually creating green space would be the responsibility of The Tower Companies, the development's parent company. 

Edward Murn, director of development for The Tower Companies, said a new park is a possibility, but further down the road. The company is in the early stages of creating a master plan for The Blairs that would guide the redevelopment of the property for the next 15 to 20 years, he said. 

"We do have a long-term plan for The Blairs," Murn said. "[It] does include a revitalization of the 27 acres that we own there in Silver Spring."

More information will be available to the public by February 2013, Murn said, when the company will host public meetings and reach out to local groups for input. 

"The initial concept does have some very nice green spaces that would be public park spaces that would be open to the public, not just residential or commercial tenants," Murn said. 

Although no plans have been finalized, parking would probably move underground at The Blairs, but the total number of spaces will likely increase, according to Murn. 

"We're not losing any parking at The Blairs," he said. 

Plans to create small parks in two other areas of downtown Silver Spring are much further along, said Marcolin.

The planning board approved a site plan by Falkland Chase apartment complex to renovate a stream valley that runs through the property and open it to the public as a park.

There is also a plan on the table to create about one-fourth of an acre of green space out of a parking lot between Silver Spring Avenue and Thayer Avenue, known as Studio Plaza.

There is no timeline for either of those projects.

More green space is a priority for some in Silver Spring.

"We know that there is currently a lack of green space in the Silver Spring Central Business District," said Evan Glass, chair of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board. "That is only going to diminish as more development occurs."

His group has held several meetings on green space possibilties in the neighborhood.  

"I want to make sure we have these discussions now to make sure that we are prepared to create green space in the Central Business District before all the land gets redeveloped," he continued. "Thousands of residents are moving into the area and we need to maintain a quality of life for everybody."

What do you think? Where would you like to see more parks in downtown Silver Spring? 

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