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Mixed-Use Development to Offer Affordable Housing Near New Silver Spring Library

About 130 units of both market rate and lower-income housing is planned in downtown Silver Spring.

Yet another mixed-use development will combine residential units and retail space in downtown Silver Spring—but this time, with a twist. 

Montgomery Housing Partnership, a nonprofit developer that creates affordable housing, and Donohoe Development Company are working together to build an apartment complex with units reserved for lower-income residents adjacent to the new Silver Spring library at the corner of Bonifant and Fenton Streets.

The proposed property will include 9,000 square feet of retail and between 130 to 150 housing units, said Robert Goldman, president of Montgomery Housing Partnership. Goldman said he hopes that about 75 percent of the units will be made available to people earning 60 percent or less of the median area income for the Washington, DC region, which is $103,000 for a family of four. The remaining 25 percent of units would be rented at market rate. 

Goldman’s vision for the facility would be multi-generational, so some young families along with some units rented to senior citizens. The 12-story property would feature one floor of retail, one floor of community space for residents and 11 floors of housing.

This property, which is awaiting approval from Montgomery County’s Park and Planning department, would provide an important balance to the downtown rental market, according to Goldman.

“There’s a lot of high-end residential that’s been built in downtown Silver Spring, so there’s a big need for some affordable housing and this will serve that purpose,” he told Patch.

Offering less expensive rental options in a transit-friendly neighborhood like downtown Silver Spring will help ensure that service professionals continue to choose to work in the area, Goldman said.

“When you think about Silver Spring, you’ve got a number of retail stores, you’ve got schools, so those folks who are providing those services to all of us everyday,” Goldman explained, “they need a place to live.

“If it’s all high-end and the teachers and retail workers and construction workers, they can’t live where they’re working, then they’re on the road, it’s leading to terrible congestion on the road and it makes it harder to recruit those folks who provide those services.” 

The property would also encourage residents to get out of their cars by providing only 25 parking spaces. Residents would also be able to use the county lot across the street from the apartment.

“The goal in many ways is to encourage people to use transit and we’re finding more and more that buildings in Silver Spring, right near the transit, don’t need as much in terms of cars,” Goldman said. 

Right now, Montgomery Housing Partners is still at the beginning phase of planning—putting financing together as the organization waits for its site plan to be approved by the planning board. Goldman said he hopes to break ground sometime in early 2014. 

The Silver Spring Library building, located at the corner of Wayne Avenue and Fenton Street, . It's estimated to be complete in late 2014. 

jag January 10, 2013 at 08:23 PM
Glad to hear about the lack of parking spaces. I thought this building was going to be reserved for low-income seniors, though? Guess that's changed to a broader "Goldman’s vision for the facility would be multi-generational, so some young families along with some units rented to senior citizens."
jag January 10, 2013 at 08:24 PM
Also, very glad to see the article in general. Good reporting on local construction projects is severely lacking.
Bubba January 11, 2013 at 02:47 AM
I think the number of parking spots is absurd. I get this area is near a lot of public transportation and we need to encourage people to use their cars less and all. Will they? Yes, but not to the extent where 25 parking spots will be nearly enough. Just look across the street at Lofts 24. 24 apartment and 9 parking spots. Those tenants are parking all around the area there because there lot is nearly always full. They have .37 parking spots per apartment (never mind there are probably 2 people living in each apartment.) Now this new place will be significantly larger. It will only have .19 parking spots per apartment. This is a mess waiting to happen. This is going to be a great hardship on the businesses in the area, too, when parking spots are going to be so hard to come by. Especially at night when the apartment dwellers are all in their pads, their cars are taking up valuable spots, and parking enforcement has gone home for the day.
jag January 11, 2013 at 05:27 AM
This is low income housing in the heart of MoCo's most public transit friendly neighborhood. You seriously think subsidizing, what, 20K per underground parking space to attract residents with cars is a good idea? It completely defeats the stated purpose of having the development in the first place: “If it’s all high-end and the teachers and retail workers and construction workers, they can’t live where they’re working, then they’re on the road, it’s leading to terrible congestion on the road and it makes it harder to recruit those folks who provide those services.” Comparing $450K market rate lofts to this project is nonsensical. Spending hundreds of thousands on parking for this subsidized project is even more nonsensical.
Woodside Park Bob January 11, 2013 at 11:46 AM
JAg, Those teachers and construction workers won't be working in downtown Silver Spring. There aren't any schools and construction work moves as projects are completed. In all likelihood these people will need to drive to get where they work. Not that many schools are on transit lines and how practical is it to take your construction tools with you on the bus, even if the bus goes where the job is? Even in the unlikely event that they don't need a car to get to their work, most of these folks will have cars and will need to park them somewhere.
Woodside Park Bob January 11, 2013 at 11:47 AM
The photo accompanying this article is the new library, not the proposed apartment complex.
Bubba January 11, 2013 at 12:57 PM
You're ignoring the issue. How will you handle the parking when 130 new apartments open up and, conservative estimate, put 100 new cars in the close by vicinity? 25 parking spots in the development will leave 75 cars that will be taking parking spots for hours on end. The development being proposed where the First Baptist Church is will have, I believe, 220 apartments with 140 parking spots for residents; which I do not believe will be sufficient. So, where will all these people park?
jag January 11, 2013 at 03:15 PM
There is a zero % chance 130 low-income apartments in the heart of downtown Silver Spring that isn't offering off-street parking are going to have anywhere 100 cars to park. You have a serious misunderstanding of the demographic and the area we are talking about, especially since you believe there to be a dearth of public parking available in the surrounding garages and lots. Time will easily prove your fears are completely unwarranted. It'd make way more sense for you to complain that the library has no dedicated parking since that will actually attract many car drivers (you know, people who don't live in the CBD of the most public transit friendly area of MoCo and rely on a car). That could be an actual legitimate concern though, again, the abundance of surrounding public parking obviously can handle the increase in people driving into DTSS.
jag January 11, 2013 at 03:20 PM
No, most of these people will not "have cars and will need to park them somewhere." That's the entire point of limiting the on-site parking, catering towards low-income individuals (many being seniors and many being young professionals), and placing the development in the heart of DTSS - to attract people who, like plenty who already live in the CBD, don't have the means or desire to own a car.
Avocado January 11, 2013 at 03:21 PM
Glad they are building transit oriented housing. I wish more people would give up their dependence on cars. Taste the freedom, people!
Bubba January 11, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Only 75% of the apartments will be low income. That means 32 to 38 apartments will be priced at levels comparable to the rest of Silver Spring. Lower income people own cars too. I stand by those numbers. Take a look at Silver Spring Towers. They have their own underground parking lot. Now, witness what happens to the public parking lot up front every evening. Fills up quite quickly. Yes, we have plenty of garages. However, people being people almost always will park as close as they can to where they are going. I doubt those garages will be used by people living in the neighborhood. How many of people living there do you think will own cars?
Kathy Jentz January 11, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Is anyone else perturbed by the "12-story property" detail? And what DID happen to the low-income senior building??
Kathlin January 14, 2013 at 05:19 PM
I'd also like to know what happened to the idea of the development being mostly for seniors. And I'm concerned about parking -- if the new units will be using parking across the street AND the library will also rely on that parking, we'll quickly see that garage maxed out.
Bubba January 14, 2013 at 11:01 PM
It already is maxed. People are using that parking lot to go to Safeway and Mandalay. I'm not sure what the length of time each spot is slotted for, but it was meant for quick turnover, not for lenghty stays for people living nearby.
bill January 25, 2013 at 08:03 PM
The reality is often that those with low incomes need cars more than those of us with higher incomes, as they are often juggling 2 or 3 jobs to scrape by. Those of us who telework or commute into the DC or downtown Silver Spring can exist without a car but the reality is very few of us do and many of these units occupied by people with cars. The ratio needs to be at least one per unit and better yet 1.5. or all the abutting neighborhoods will be overrun with cars.
jag January 25, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Sometimes, but plenty of times low income workers need cars is due to the fact they can't afford to live in job and transportation centers like DTSS. The point is to attract low income workers/retirees who don't need a car. Obviously, if you paid big $$$$$ to put 180 spaces underground then you'll attract low-income people with cars and defeat the entire purpose of locating the subsidized development in the (expensive) urban core.

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