South Silver Spring Residents Split on Park Development

The petition has about 200 signatures.


The Extra Space Self Storage in downtown, which is being considered for redevelopment, has become the point of contention for some South Silver Spring residents.

The one-story self-storage facility located at 8001 Newell Street sits between two condominiums—8045 Newell Street and Eastern Village Co-Housing located at 7983 Eastern Ave.

Recently, Comstock Homes, a Virginia-based development company, has expressed interest to Montgomery County Park and Planning and to the community about developing a mixed-used community apartment building. It would potentially house about 190 residents.

The talk of new development on the 1.2 acre Newell Street lot is receiving mixed reactions from neighbors.

Renee Tatusko has been a part of the Silver Spring neighborhood since the early '90s. In 2006, she decided to purchase her condo located at 8045 Newell Street. She was one of the first three residents to move in.

Before Tatusko moved she saw great potential for moving into the area. She works just a few blocks from her home at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which was one of the major reasons she moved in.

“I’m a downtown girl. I like restaurants, I like shops, I like entertainment and I didn’t like the idea of being way out in West Virginia or some place else. So I liked the downtown aspect of it all,” she said.

When she moved into the condo, she knew that development on the storage facility’s lot would occur, but was unsure until recently of what some possible options were. Tatusko says she is still a downtown lover but there are limits.

“We were all pretty much stunned to hear that another high-rise seven-story apartment building was going to be developed on what we considered a very small foot print of a piece of property,” she said.

Tatusko is concerned about losing her sunlight, her view, a decrease in her property value, and added stress to the sewage facilities in the neighborhood.

This has lead her to team up with other Silver Spring residents who have started a petition to encourage the county to purchase the property and build a park.

The petition’s goal is 500 signatures and as of Thursday it has reached 197 signatures.

On the other hand, Patrick Thornton who lives on the same side of the storage facility at 8045 Newell St., supports the idea of the new apartment complex.

Thornton said when you are dealing with a developing area, it’s either vibrant with investors or stagnant. He added that he would prefer to have more residents instead of a park.

“It won’t make a good place for a park,” he said. “ It’s narrow and long and needs to be square and have more depth.”

He added that more residents would help boost the economy in the South Silver Spring area for businesses that are struggling.

The question of more green space has been brought up before. Former South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association President Evan Glass said the need was identified when a temporary green turf was installed before the Silver Spring Civic Center was being developed.

“Since then it has been in back of many people’s minds but there’s been no traction to do anything about it,” Glass said. “It’s just one of those concerns that people acknowledge. If anything, I hope this situation propels that conversation.”

Silver Spring residents will get a chance to formally address their concerns with the development Monday, Aug. 20, at the Silver Spring Civic Center. Officials from Comstock Homes are expected to present the community with their project plans for the site.

jag August 17, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Good grief. Fear of a 7 story "high-rise" blocking out the sun. NIMBYism at its worse. Especially when "she knew that development on the storage facility’s lot would occur". You seriously thought they were going to build something less than 7 stories? Come on. That's beyond laughable, as is the notion the county should spend millions of dollars to protect Tatusko from having to *gasp* have a real life neighbor across the street instead of a dumpy storage facility. Redevelopment of the parcel to bring new life, new retail space, more vibrancy, and more tax payers to this area of Silver Spring would be amazing. It remaining a junky 1 story storage facility or becoming yet another pocket park in South Silver Spring that gets minimal usage would be borderline useless. It's not a hard decision. I expect the county council will easily recognize the obvious (and admitted) selfishness of those against this parcel being redeveloped.
mike rink August 23, 2012 at 11:13 AM
I strongly disagree! South Silver Spring is in desparate need of more green space and doesn't need any more residential buildings. There needs to be a balance struck between having high-density residential dwellings and sufficient open space for the people who live there. Speaking as a dog owner, finding open green space in this area is extremely difficult and is clearly needed. This is a wonderful opportunity to give our community a much needed resource that will contribute to the enjoyment of those who already live in South Silver Spring.
tanisha August 23, 2012 at 01:04 PM
I'm with Jag. Why do we need another pocket park that no one uses and becomes unsafe to walk by at night.
Bruce H. Lee August 23, 2012 at 02:51 PM
I am so sad to see an article like this. Only 20 years ago Downtown Silver Spring had forty four 100% vacant buildings and vacancy rates were at almost 40%. You could shoot a canon off at 6:00 PM and no one would hear it (a true quote from Gary Stith). Even Doug Duncan, before he was County Executive said: “I will save Silver Spring or die trying”. How soon we forget. We now have a vibrant downtown with new folks moving in all the time. We have the transportation infrastructure to support the continued revitalization of Downtown Silver Spring. We are accomplishing the goals of many and we have a lot to be proud of and so much more to do. In this horrible economy we are beating the odds. Keep it up team! We are winning and we have a great community! Bruce H. Lee President Lee Development Group Lee Plaza 8601 Georgia Avenue Suite 200 Silver Spring, MD 20910 (301) 585-7000 ext. 111 Direct: (301) 565- 5421 Fax: (301) 585-4604 Email: bruce@leedg.com Skype address: BRUCEHRHLEE www.leedg.com
jag August 23, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Rock on, Bruce Lee. Does that mean you foresee keeping the momentum going and getting your planned office/hotel development behind the Fillmore off the shelf?
Marla Jackson August 23, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I would think the best place for office/hotel development would be in the area behind the Fillmore. We are in "Downtown Silver Spring" not in suburbia. I moved to Silver Spring so I could take Metro to work and walk to restaurants, movies (I'm a little too old for the Fillmore), AFI, Round House etc.
Julie Statland August 23, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Many of the green space areas in Silver Spring are dramatically under utilized. We who live work and play in Silver Spring are excited new development continues to happen. We are no where near over development, not a word any of us would use to describe Silver Spring. Not sure how a residential apartment complex near a metro in an Urban area would do anything other than improve the quality of life for the surronding area, increase the tax base for services, help the small business community who struggle due to the sluggish economy over the past 4 years and not enough foot traffic frequenting thier business. Let's not let a few naysayers control the headlines when the majority of us are thrilled with the Renaissance of Silver Spring. Let's print stories that focus on our ongoing success to attract and retain the quality of residents and employers we are experincing now.
Michael Kanner August 24, 2012 at 04:53 PM
As an old timer to Silver Spring - been here 19 years - since a lot of good changes happening here, so I love the resnaissance in the area. But with all these changes, there is over-development. Seen too many buildings go up without any consideration of giving back to the community except asphalt slabs that give me no place to relax. More places to also relax improves quality of life. By the way, you may not think of this as over-development - Marla, are you from NYC - but according to Census data, downtown Silver Spring is the most population concentrated area in all of Montgomery County. So, maybe it is not to you, but that is an external definition of overdevelopment. To Mike Rink's point, there needs to be a balance here. Maybe more development is needed on Georgia Avenue between Colesville and Sligo Avenue - which I would wholeheartedly support (because I live near there) - and a stop to the concrete jungle on East West Highway.
jag August 24, 2012 at 05:42 PM
"but according to Census data, downtown Silver Spring is the most population concentrated area in all of Montgomery County." That adds to the point I and others have made - this development is in line with its neighbors. As Tatusko says in the article - everyone's expectation has always been that this single story storage facility would be redeveloped to fit in with the neighborhood. A small, mid-rise residential building is exactly what this parcel is currently zoned for and fits exactly with the rest of the neighborhood. If the NIMBYs want to live in a less dense neighborhood, there are plenty of places zoned exactly for that instead.
Michael Kanner August 24, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Does the proposed project fit exactly with the rest of the Shepherd Park neighborhood right across the street from the building? I think not.
jag August 24, 2012 at 06:55 PM
? Do you not know that Shepherd Park is in DC? They have exactly nothing to do with this - this project is in Montgomery County, MARYLAND. You must not be familiar with the area. Eastern is lined with multi-story buildings on the MoCo side, and many are WAY taller than the 7 stories that's proposed here. Of course this building fits in with the neighborhood, hence why it's currently zoned for this density.
Michael Kanner August 24, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I know that Shepherd Park is in DC. I know the project is in Maryland. Don't use a condescending tone like that. The point is that since the property is right across the street from the DC, there are negative spillover effects of a project on the DC residents. Why do you think they came out to the meeting on Monday and spoke out against it ?
Michael Kanner August 24, 2012 at 07:30 PM
also, how many buildings on Eastern Avenue on the Maryland side are taller than 7 stories? I live nearby - I count only one building that is taller than seven stories.
jag August 24, 2012 at 07:47 PM
I apologize if my tone came across as condescending. I don't understand why you would think I, the county, the developer, or other MoCo residents would be beholden to the desires of people from a different district - I figured the most logical explanation to be that you're not a resident of South Silver Spring. Anyways, obviously the neighborhood of concern is South Silver Spring, not Shepard Park. 7 stories fits in with South Silver Spring. None of the 4-14 story buildings along Eastern Avenue in SS should be there, by your flawed logic.
jag August 24, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Couple of the SS blocks have garden-style low/mid rises. Couple of the blocks have highrises - Blair House being the tallest (14 stories, I believe) and the two Aurora towers being the 2nd tallest at about 12 stories. If the developer was arguing to join the high-rises, that'd be a more interested conversation. Them mimicking the lower, mid-rises is obviously well within their rights and not interesting. There's zero chance this doesn't get built.
Julie Statland August 25, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Mike I encourage you do come to some of the urban district meetings when new projects are presented to the committee, most optional method developments if they want to maximize their density are required by park and planning to provide green space, pay into the parking lot district fee,or provide some type of public ammenity. If you visit a number of these green spaces jessup park is an example they are under utilized the people who demanded th green spaces are not using them.
Michael Kanner August 25, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Julie - Under option method development, the developer is required to provide "open" but not necessarily "green" space. This is a critical distinction, because "open" space can be anything from a concrete slab with public art (e.g., 1200 East West) to a sliver of green that is not person- or dog-friendly (e.g. Argent) to a courtyard playground without grass at the new Galaxy. What makes you convinced that the "open space" requirement is being met to address environmental concerns other than be a naked empty space? Also, for some, getting to Jessup Blair is not easy because it is not necessarily walkable for some of the older (in age, not in spirit) residents of South Silver Spring . There needs to be smart growth in downtown Silver Spring that balances residential development (why are not Georgia Avenue sites used?) to be compatible with GREEN space. Lastly, I would encourage you to review the economic research literature that suggests parks actually are most cost-effective and more revenue-positive than residential development. Your argument that it improves the tax base etc. is the same fallacy as those who argue that building convention centers and stadiums are win-win for economic development, when they actually are revenue drainers if you look at the economics much more carefully.


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