It's hard to imagine a downtown Silver Spring without the Silver Spring Metrorail station. But that neighborhood—suburban and car-oriented—was what birthed The Blairs, a 1400-unit collection of apartment buildings situated between Eastern Avenue and East-West Highway.
Patch reported last December that The Tower Companies, which owns the apartment building, was creating a 15- to 20-year redevelopment plan. Last week the company unveiled specifics that will bring the development, which was completed in 1969, into the 21st century, said Edward Murn, director of development for the parent company.
The plan, which is outlined online at www.blairsmasterplan.com, will double the number of apartment units and increase the commercial space from the current 150,000 square feet to 450,000 square feet, the maximum allowed. Phased over the next two decades, The Blairs will demolish its four five-story buildings, build new high-rise towers and rearrange the commercial space so that it's an upper-level, mixed-use spattering of office space, grocery, restaurants and a hotel.
"When it [The Blairs] was planned and built orginally, it was a suburban community—Metro didn't exist, the car was king back then," said Murn.
"It's time that we brought this old community into this century and take advantage of the transit-oriented location that we have."
Murn said the redevelopment was partially spurred by a survey of the apartments' current residents, 75 percent of whom said they don't drive a car to work, instead preferring to walk, bike or take mass transit. It was evident to the company that renters were already taking advantage of the neighborhood's transit options and that the apartments should reflect that.
To that end, all parking will be moved below ground and four acres of public outdoor space, half of which will be green, are part of the project.
Murn said once it's completed, the outdoor space, retail and restaurants will bring some of downtown Silver Spring's vibrancy south of the Metro tracks. He sees the future outdoor space as the perfect location for festivals and outdoor concerts and a place for South Silver Spring to enjoy the outdoors.
"We're excited to be able to bring something like that to South Silver Spring," Murn told Patch.