Thursday, September 30, 2010

photos, new and old

Google Maps just updated their aerial photos for the D.C. area today with images taken some time in late August. We may be in a recession, but there's no shortage of stuff going on across the region and in East County. Here are some of the highlights:

Veterans Plaza, downtown Silver Spring
Here's Veterans Plaza in downtown Silver Spring, which of course opened a month earlier in July.

New Silver Spring transit center
A few blocks away, you can see construction beginning on what will be the multi-story bus turnaround at the Silver Spring Transit Center.

InterCounty Connector at Route 29
Here's the InterCounty Connector being built at Route 29 and ICC. The entire route across the county is now visible (just follow the cleared trees).

Poplar Run (former Indian Spring Country Club)
And construction's just beginning on Poplar Run, a new development at the former Indian Spring Country Club on Layhill Road.

For some reason, Flickr won't let me embed a slideshow right now, so click here to see the rest of the photos or, you know, just go to Google Maps and look for yourself.

Also: GGW pointed us to this stunning set of photos taken in D.C. during the late 1980's and early 1990's. It's hard to believe that within my lifetime, huge chunks of downtown were still bombed out, Chinatown was still Chinatown and Logan Circle didn't have a Whole Foods. But some things, like Morris Miller Liquor at Georgia and Alaska avenues NW, haven't changed at all.

My favorite photo, however, would have to be this one (at right) of Posin's Bakery near Georgia and Missouri avenues NW, likely a familiar sight to Silver Spring residents who go downtown that way. I remember getting a cake there for my ninth birthday. I went to school in Rockville then, and my teachers were horrified that my mother had gone into the city to get me a cake.

If you get off on aerial photos, here's some that Evan Glass, president of the South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association, took from a plane last fall.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

what's up the pike: under the bridge downtown . . .

'Build The Library Bridge'
- TBD reports that support is growing for a $750,000 pedestrian bridge connecting the future Silver Spring Library at Wayne and Fenton to the parking garage across the street. While I've heard compelling arguments for the bridge - namely that the intersection of Wayne Avenue, Fenton Street and the future Purple Line will be a super hassle for pedestrians to cross - I strongly feel that the answer is to fix the intersection and make it more amenable to all walkers, not bypass it with a bridge solely for those going to the library. Here's hoping this idea stays on the drawing board. We've got better things to do with that money.

- Perhaps you do catch more flies with honey than vinegar, because Sk8ter Mom is back with a thoughtful and reasoned explanation of the need for a skatepark in downtown Silver Spring. If the comments following the Kojo in Your Community show last week were any indication, people weren't too happy about her appearance (with many young local skaters in tow) at the meeting. Hopefully, Sk8ter Mom's latest attempt to make her case can be more persuasive.

But wait, there's more:

- Historian 4 Hire David Rotenstein looks back at his past work in journalism and writing about folk music in the Deep South.

- Prince of Petworth visits the new-ish Silver Spring Civic Building, and by "visit" we mean "looked at some photos of Flickr," because we know everything that's not in the District is tragically lame and not worth paying any real attention to.

- Congratulations to Karen Montgomery, your new District 14 State Senator. After years of serving us as a delegate, we know that many good years lie ahead for East County.

Monday, September 27, 2010

whither walter reed?

The closure of Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Georgia Avenue may be a loss for the District, but it's also a loss to Silver Spring, which has long benefitted from the business of visiting soldiers and their families, who eat, shop and stay downtown. Though the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, which will merge with Walter Reed, is only five miles from Silver Spring, it's unlikely that guests, employees and visitors will continue going there. For the time being, it's unclear what will replace the hospital complex, but there remain possibilities for downtown Silver Spring to benefit from any future redevelopment of the 116-acre site.

The entrance of Walter Reed along Georgia Avenue. Photo from Google Street View.

Woodside resident and friend of JUTP Casey Anderson looks at Walter Reed's potential for Silver Spring on the blog of the Citizens League of Montgomery County, a nascent civic group that is way cool:

In fact, DC has ambitious plans to redevelop the Walter Reed campus. Ideas for reuse include some combination of residential housing, offices, retail, space for non-profits, a WMATA bus garage, and recruitment of one or more new federal government tenants to replace the Army. The District government also has been working for several years to refashion Upper Georgia Avenue (which they define as the 2.6 mile stretch from Decatur Street to the Maryland line) into a more inviting, vibrant corridor. These improvements would be good for both DC and MoCo.

Now might be a good time, though, for MoCo leaders to devote some thought to how we might cooperate (and in some cases compete against) the District to make sure we are prepared for the loss of Walter Reed.

Among the issues Casey brings up are the need for better transit between Silver Spring and Walter Reed, like the Georgia Avenue streetcar (which as planned would only go as far as Takoma); opening up the complex to the surrounding neighborhoods, and marketing Silver Spring as a desirable place to live for people working in upper Northwest D.C. (It could be argued this is already the status quo, as upper Georgia Avenue hasn't yet gentrified the way Petworth or downtown Silver Spring have yet.)

Meanwhile, Richard Layman from Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space has another take on the issue, pointing out that for many parts of Northwest, Silver Spring is already their "downtown" so long as neighborhoods within the District can't provide them with the amenities they want or need, like shopping or entertainment venues.

A site as large as the Walter Reed campus doesn't come along every day, and its redevelopment presents loads of possibilities for upper Northwest and for Silver Spring. Hopefully, it'll get done in a way that gives people on both sides of the District line more amenities and more reasons to stay in their neighborhood.

Friday, September 24, 2010

what's up the pike: everything old is new again (and again)

Block Party 2009
- Check out the fourth-annual South Silver Spring Block Party, held tomorrow from 1 to 6pm. There will be dozens of local food vendors, music, a bake-off with celebrity judges (Warren Brown, perhaps?), and a beer garden sponsored by Fire Station 1. Meanwhile, Reemberto Rodriguez writes about the significance of block parties here and throughout the country.

- The so-called "Preppy Burglar" who's been robbing houses in Howard County while wearing a shirt and tie is from Silver Spring, reports the Post. I kind of proud we could field such a dapper thief, because it wasn't too long ago that a "Preppy Burglar" would've had to come from Bethesda.

- Sushi at Nava Thai? Why, yes. The City Paper reviews the new sushi bar at the Wheaton restaurant. Pan-Asian menus often worry me (see Siu's Asian Bistro in Calverton), and reviewer Tim Carman confirms my suspicions. "Few things are as easy to spot as cut-rate or amateur sushi," he writes. "The small sampling of nigiri sushi I bought at Nava came awfully close to falling into these categories."

- It could be argued that you'll catch more flies with honey, but in the case of Sk8ter Mom's post on "Old Farts and Player-Hating," perhaps it's more fun to call it like you see it. (I do wonder which approach will guarantee the creation of more space for skateboarding in Silver Spring - or anything else, for that matter.)

Proposed Building in Downtown Silver Spring, 1980's
- A few weeks ago, I asked readers what this 1980's-era drawing (found in the county's Department of Housing and Community Affairs office in Rockville) of a proposed building in downtown Silver Spring was supposed to be. Both Sligo and @pagodat pointed out that it was a proposed renovation of Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Laboratory, which was located in downtown Silver Spring until moving to Howard County in 1977.

Pagodat used cues from the drawing to locate it on Georgia Avenue behind the Lee Building on what today is a parking lot (and what will eventually become part of a new office and hotel development behind the Fillmore).

After the APL moved out of Silver Spring, the county sought ways to make the building relevant again by giving it a new, modern face. In fact, that's already happened before. Compare this photo (at right) of the car dealership Hopkins took over to open the lab in 1942 with this postcard from ten years later to see how they sought to reuse an even older building for their purposes. (You can see the window pattern of the old car dealership in the right side of the new and proposed iterations of the APL.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

what's up the pike: try the special at nathan's diner

Student Town Project, Park and Planning
- If you missed Kojo Nnamdi's "Kojo In Your Community" event at the Civic Building in downtown Silver Spring, you can listen to it this afternoon at 1pm, or check out this recap of the goings-on. Thayer Avenue and Silver Spring, Singular, among others, live-tweeted the show, largely to make fun of people who spoke - though they did point out that Kojo kept referring to Silver Spring as being in Prince George's County, which is unfortunate.

Meanwhile, local skateboarding advocate Sk8ter Mom says that skaters were blocked from entering the building until someone told Kojo himself, who then asked them to come inside. He interviewed Sk8ter Mom last week, a must-listen after you hear last night's show.

- Jackie's Restaurant owner Jackie Greenbaum will open a Mexican restaurant in Columbia Heights, says the Post. If the prices at Jackie's have scared you off, you might want to come down here instead: "Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served, with an emphasis on portability and price," writes Justin Rude. "No item will cost more than $15, and there will be selections designed to be consumed in the time it takes to walk to the Columbia Heights Metro station."

- Whitney Teal, friend of JUTP and editor of new online news source Colesville Patch, sent us a few links to stories she's been working on in East County. Here's an update on the new Third District Police Station in White Oak (newly cleansed of all that rotten affordable housing); the Colesville Giant's plans to take over a gas station across the street; and good news from the Department of Liquor Control.

- The Montgomery County Planning Department is hosting a contest to see who can best describe our diversity in less than seven minutes. The prompt: "Montgomery County is predicted to become a majority-minority county. The changing face of the county brings a wealth of new ideas, services, products and languages. Express your thoughts about the county’s diversity." (Sounds like an SAT essay, doesn't it?)

Pecha Kucha (peh-chak-cha) is a presentation style developed in Japan by architects who feared their colleagues had become too wordy when talking about their work. Presenters are given twenty seconds to go through each of twenty slides on their topic, or a total of six minutes and forty seconds. For an example of what a Pecha Kucha looks like, check out this one about Indianapolis.

To enter, visit the Planning Department's website.

- And speaking of the Planning Department: check out the photos (above and at right) of a model city made by local students on display at the Department's offices a couple of months ago. I don't have any details (it was sitting in a hallway deep within the staff offices), but I still think it's pretty cool.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

mapping racial & ethnic integration in montgomery county

Race and ethnicity: Montgomery County, Md.

These maps by Eric Fischer representing the ethnic and racial divides in major American cities have been making the rounds on local blogs today, particularly this one of Greater Washington. It's no surprise to anyone in the D.C. area that the city is segregated - until quite recently, whites and blacks generally lived on opposite sides of 16th Street, with some exceptions - but what rarely discussed is how integrated the suburbs are.

For almost forty years, Montgomery County has expressed a commitment to racial and economic diversity through its government policies, notably its Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) program, which provides subsidized housing for low-income households. This map provides some insight into how successful those efforts have been. Red dots represent whites, blue for blacks, green for Asians and orange for Hispanics.

While the District has a fairly strong distinction between white and black neighborhoods, and most of Prince George's County appears to be solidly black, Montgomery County looks like a bowl of rainbow sprinkles. Even areas that have a reputation for housing one ethnic group - Hispanics in Wheaton, for instance - show a far finer-grained mix of people. Save for the Takoma-Langley Crossroads, where you can see a big blob of orange dots (for Hispanics), there are few obvious ethnic enclaves on the map.

Walking and Smiling
Montgomery County neighborhoods, like downtown Silver Spring, appear to be far more integrated than those in the District or Prince George's County.

Except for white enclaves, of course. The west half of the map - Bethesda, Rockville and Potomac - doesn't look at all integrated from first glance. Nonetheless, there's still some clustering of green dots (for Asians) along Darnestown Road in North Potomac.

This isn't surprising to anyone who attended Wootton High School, which my friends nicknamed "Wonton" for its Asian population, or to fans of Michael's Noodles at Darnestown and Travilah roads in Rockville, "perhaps the best Chinese restaurant in this area right now," according to Tyler Cowen.

The map of Greater Washington also makes a point about how people of all backgrounds choose where to live. For the most part, Asian and Hispanic immigrants have located in Montgomery and Fairfax counties, lured by good schools and easier access to jobs, two things that Prince George's County generally can't promise. Though Prince George's has relied for decades on its reputation as a haven for the black middle class, this strategy has failed to draw investment, whether in the form of newcomers to the county, the region and this country.

So far, I haven't found any suburbs in Philadelphia as diverse as those I've found in the D.C. area, though the psychology of how different races and ethnicities land where they do is complicated everywhere. American University professor Sheryll Cashin explores this in the book The Failures of Integration, which is a must-read for anyone interested in that topic.

Monday, September 20, 2010

kojo comes to silver spring tomorrow; i met vince gray, sort of

I came home last weekend and was in the District on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, each time trying to avoid the onslaught of Vincent Gray signs. Holding my head down at 7th and H, my eyes followed the sidewalk until they landed on a group of men in suits talking to each other. One of them looks very familiar, I thought, slowly realizing that I was looking at Gray himself.

People Inside The Streetcar (1)
This is not a picture I didn't take of Vince Gray, but rather one of white and black people in a D.C. streetcar.

Holy shit, that's Vince Gray! I thought. Then, Should I take a picture? And where should I stand to take a picture discreetly? Do I use my camera or my phone? I grew irrational. What if Gray knows what I think of him and those who voted for him? Holy shit!

And so I took off down H Street, running like an idiot.

Fortunately, Kojo Nnamdi is a far more reasonable individual, as witnessed by this awesome column breaking down D.C.'s mayoral primary last week. And you'll be lucky to have him right here in Silver Spring tomorrow evening for a discussion on the big issues facing the area. It starts at 6:30pm (doors at 5:45) at the Civic Building, located at Fenton Street and Ellsworth Drive.

(If we ever get the D.C. streetcar built, any Gray voter who entered their polling place grumbling that they were some kind of some kind of "socialist whitey plot" should be banned from riding them, ever.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

hyattsville = U street, or how to sell rowhouses in the suburbs

At Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space, Richard Layman complains about an ad for Hyattsville's Arts District development that claims to be a cheaper version of U Street. He calls it "puffery." To certain potential homebuyers, however, Hyattsville might as well be U Street. It may be incorrect, but it's still an honest reflection of how some view the relationship between the city and suburbs.

Kennedy Street
For suburban residents, a new rowhouse in Hyattsville (pictured) might be a good substitute for an old one on U Street.

A research project I started over the summer (but never finished) was to map where my twenty-something friends and coworkers had moved after college. Supporters of smart growth and urbanism like to argue that young people are flocking to the city. For my peer group, that hasn't been the case, as many of my friends still live in suburban Maryland or Northern Virginia.

where people live at
A map of where thirty-five of my friends and coworkers, all within three years of graduating college, were living in 2009. Yellow houses represent people living with their parents, while red beds represent those living on their own.

There are two reasons why that happens. One is that our lives are in the suburbs: our friends, our families, our jobs, our hangouts. The best ethnic food is in Rockville, Langley Park and Annandale. There are growing nightlife districts in Bethesda, Clarendon and (fingers crossed) Silver Spring. We no longer have to go into D.C. for work, for culture, or for alcohol.

But even if you want to live in the city, housing there is either too expensive for an entry-level salary, or perhaps undesirable to kids raised in newish McMansions with free parking. One of my friends grew up in Clarksville and for two years commuted from her parents' house to a job in Baltimore. After looking at century-old rowhouses in Federal Hill, she moved to a room in a newer townhouse in Columbia because she wouldn't have to share a bathroom.

Love Cafe, 15th & U
The real U Street.

That's not to say we don't want urban lifestyles. In fact, if there's anything that I noticed in my map, it's that most of my friends chose to locate within a mile of Metro stations. We don't want to be reliant on our cars. But, either by choice or by default, we're looking for suburban analogues to urban neighborhoods.

Hence the comparison between Hyattsville and U Street. The homebuyers EYA wants to reach with their ad aren't moving to U Street. They've already decided to live in the suburbs. But they like U Street's amenities - its diversity, its bars and restaurants, and its accessibility.

Hyattsville can claim some of those things. There's a yearly arts festival and a growing district of real artists. Gay couples, including some with kids, are moving to the area because of its progressive reputation. The University Town Center development a mile away has shops, restaurants and a movie theatre, while the Arts District will eventually include a coveted branch of Busboys and Poets - which, of course, first opened on U Street.

McMansions, Cypress Hill Drive
If you grew up in a house like this in Gaithersburg, Hyattsville and U Street might seem pretty similar.

Of course it's not the same as U Street. On the other hand, Hyattsville has a weak brand - many potential visitors or buyers don't know anything about it. And those that do don't have a positive impression of it, like these University of Maryland students who complain that the town is "sketchy". EYA, the developer of Arts District, has to sell this neighborhood somehow, and if you're currently living in a more distant suburb like Gaithersburg or Bowie, Hyattsville might as well be U Street.

Over the past fifteen years, the District has undergone a remarkable transformation, drawing thousands of new residents. Slowly but surely, the traditional concerns about city living - chiefly poor schools and crime - are being dismantled. There will be people who still won't move there, but if they want to live in compact, urban settings outside city limits, that's a triumph.

Hopefully, Hyattsville will be able to attract people on its own merits, and we won't have to take the name of hip D.C. neighborhoods in vain.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

what's up the pike: so nice, we had to do it twice (updated)

Hilton Ga_den _nn
How could we forget?- Oprah will be the first talk-show host to interview hostages held by gunman James Lee at the Discovery Building in downtown Silver Spring earlier this month. Check it out on your local ABC station at 4pm today.

- Go-go pioneer Chuck Brown will play on Ellsworth Drive in downtown Silver Spring next Tuesday at noon. Or will he? Brown's website says the show will go on, but a "new location" has yet to be announced. It doesn't help that Gazette reporter Jeanette Der Bedrosian automatically compares Brown's forthcoming show to a go-go concert last spring where dozens of people were arrested. Seriously? Chuck Brown may put on a wild show, but I doubt that his fans will be rioting on Ellsworth.

- - We've got lots of new elected officials after yesterday's primary election, but there are a few I'm especially happy to see taking office. New District 14 delegate Eric Luedtke (pictured at right) and at-large County Councilmember Hans Riemer have been friends of JUTP since the beginning. In fact, Hans was my very first interview four years ago, which led to a mention in the Examiner.

They're both smart, immensely talented and committed to improving East County, and I'm proud to see them fight - and win.

- Of course, you've likely heard that the Kojo Nnamdi Show will be broadcasting live from the Silver Spring Civic Building next Tuesday at 6:30pm. The two-hour program, called Kojo In Your Community, will "[provide] area residents with a forum to ask questions, make comments and share the view from their neighborhoods." From the looks of the show's blog, Kojo might want to hear what you think about skateboarding.

What a great opportunity for y'all to show what Silver Spring is about! Unfortunately, I can't be there, but I'll be listening online here in Philadelphia.

- Today, county officials cut the ribbon on The Argent, a 96-unit apartment building located at East-West Highway and Blair Mill Road. Built as condos, the complex was purchased by the county for conversion to rentals for low-income households - defined as those making between $30,000 and $78,000 a year.

DCmud gets a little sloppy with reporting, counting up all the government-subsidized apartments in South Silver Spring without noting that they're required by law in almost all new housing developments countywide. This list of apartments with low-income rentals reveals some very desirable addresses in Rockville and Bethesda, in addition to a handful of complexes in East County.

- Over at GGW, there's a breakdown of plans from the Transportation Planning Board - which plans transportation improvements in the D.C. area - to expand bus rapid transit regionwide, including in East County. Are those lines on Georgia Avenue, New Hampshire Avenue and Route 29 I spy?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

what's up the pike: it's all over now

UniTher Stools

Finally, the primaries are over! The results from the Board of Elections are still unofficial, and it looks like several races are still very close. (I've got my fingers crossed for you, George!)

My apologies to former D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty, who either flubbed his campaign - or, perhaps, the schools in D.C. are so bad that people can't tell things have actually gotten better - and former Republican gubernatorial candidate/cake purveyor Brian Murphy, who lost to former Gov. Bob Ehrlich. And here's hoping that Bobby Haircut remains a former governor.

In the meantime, though:

- Have you ever wanted to run a 5k on a highway? Now's your chance, on the InterCounty Connector this October before the toll road finally opens early next year. Better lace up your running shoes, because this is the only time you'll be on the ICC for free.

- HowChow reviews Soretti's Ethiopian Cuisine in Burtonsville, one of my most-frequented eateries in East County and one of the only reasons to head down Route 198 anymore.

- Cyndy at Photo-Cyn-Thesis admires the bright skies over Glenmont.

- Jerry McCoy wonders if he should move due to MoCo's restrictive liquor laws. Prince George's County never looked better!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

mailed my absentee ballot today

Today's the primary election, and if you've been reading JUTP over the past few months, you've noticed that there hasn't been nearly as much coverage as there was in the 2006 election, during the 2008 or 2009 special elections, or even during my housecalls to County Councilmembers in 2007. Part of that is because

a) I worked for a County Councilmember;

b) the ongoing business of moving to a place that is not Montgomery County, and starting school again;

and c) wondering how significant this year's elections were to the issues I really care about.

For all of the nastiness of the past four years, I feel like the primaries in my districts have been generally quiet. Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Valerie Ervin are running unopposed, as is County Executive Ike Leggett; Congresswoman Donna Edwards has no real challengers; I haven't heard anything out of District 20; the District 14 Delegate race, for all its contenders, has been fairly drama-free, though the race for Senate has gotten nasty as of late.

(Of course, the At-Large County Council race has been pretty rough. I thought for a long time about whether I would like to write about it at all, but decided against it.)

brian murphy
Were I a Republican, I'd vote for Brian Murphy and his delicious, nine-layer cakes.

One of the races I've been following anxiously has been for Governor. You probably know that I am a registered Democrat, but I remain a big fan of Smith Island Baking Co. founder Brian Murphy. If there's anything Sarah Palin and I can agree on, it's that Brian Murphy's cakes are really fucking good.

But, seriously: those who care about the Purple Line - and Baltimore's Red Line - should be very afraid of Bob Ehrlich winning come November, as he's said he would kill the project once and for all. Whether or not you like Governor O'Malley, you should push for candidates willing to fund public transit. If Ehrlich really cared about job creation in Maryland, he'd stop scooping ice cream (Oh, former employer, how could you betray me!?) and support projects that actually get people to where the jobs are.

I've also been following the D.C. mayoral race, which is basically decided tomorrow. I've never lived in the District, but most of my family does, and I can't help but be disappointed by how bitter the contest has been. There are people in D.C. who remember much, much better than I do when Chinatown and U Street were boarded-up and empty. I remember walking past abandoned buildings to my aunt's apartment in Columbia Heights five years ago.

Yet somehow, these same people will vote for a candidate who'd use all these positive changes for race-baiting, because black people are allergic to good schools and safer neighborhoods and never ride bikes or streetcars. It's true. Just ask anyone in Portland.

Yellow Streetcar, Portland State
Non-black people board a streetcar in Portland.

I was especially disappointed by David Alpert's endorsement of Vincent Gray on Greater Greater Washington (is he not a beneficiary of all these positive changes, and yet so quick to ignore them for a candidate who has no such track record to speak of?) but I'm sadder still that my friends at GGW were painted as a group of dorky white guys by the City Paper.

Sometimes, one person can create change. I could've been the token half-Black, half-Indian guy in the City Paper story. And you can make some of your own change today at your local polling place. Swing by the Board of Elections' website for more information.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

what's up the pike: third day of school . . .

And so the wheels of this blog threaten to grind to a stop. In the meantime, though:
Taylor Gourmet
- Taylor Gourmet is one of my favorite sandwich shops in D.C., and not only because their sandwiches are named after places in Philadelphia (the bread is delivered from there each day). Its owners have been willing to take a chance on up-and-coming neighborhoods, like H Street (where they both live, above the store) and the Mount Vernon Triangle (pictured above).

So why is their first foray into Montgomery County to effing Bethesda? Sure, they already demand Bethesda prices (ten bucks for a 6" sub, chips and soda!), but when I think of their H Street clientele (hipsters, Gallaudet kids, and a few remaining middle-class black folks), I imagine they'd be more at home in Silver Spring. Don't you?

- Good Eatin' to Gazette food critics: "if you drive south and cross Randolph Road, you are still in Montgomery County."

- Historian for Hire David Rotenstein writes about carpooling and the Jewish families who started their own neighborhood in Four Corners, Northwood Park.

- The best endorsement/political rant you will ever read this year (but, perhaps, not safe for work): "We're Montgomery Fucking County. We are adjacent to the richest job bank in the motherfucking universe, that being Washington, DC. Unless the place is run by complete motherfucking idiots (and it has, at times, been so), jobs make themselves."

- Of course, the umpteenth-annual Silver Spring Jazz Festival is this weekend, featuring headliner Aaron Neville. It starts at 3:30pm Saturday in downtown Silver Spring and for the first time in Veterans Plaza at Fenton Street and Ellsworth Drive.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

fenton street market moves to veterans plaza

Fenton Street Market Sign
With its first full season comes to a close, Fenton Street Market will move a few blocks from its current home to Veterans Plaza at Fenton Street and Ellsworth Drive October 23, says founder Hannah McCann.

"The rallying cry to move [downtown] has been building all summer, from vendors and customers alike," writes McCann, who as of this writing was being rushed to the hospital for the birth of her child, in an e-mail to JUTP.

The weekly flea market is currently held Saturdays from 9am to 3pm between April and October in a parking lot at the corner of Fenton Street and Silver Spring Avenue. McCann, who lives down the street from the lot, approached owner Ulysses Glee last fall about holding a flea market there.

Glee obliged, but noted that he had plans to build on the property eventually. Next year, construction will begin on a condominium and hotel complex at the site, forcing McCann to find a new location. She approached Reemberto Rodriguez, director of the Silver Spring Regional Services Center, and Jennifer Nettles, marketing director for the Downtown Silver Spring complex, which holds its own weekly farmers' market on Ellsworth Drive.

"They both encouraged me to go for the plaza," she says. "I knew I had to move in the direction of [downtown] for the survival of the market, and what could be a better, more natural fit than being across from the farm market?"

A senior editor for Architect magazine, McCann appreciates the success of Veterans Plaza, which opened in July. "I love the spontaneous community gatherings that have been happening there--the drums, the tai chi," she writes. The market's vendors - thirty to sixty are featured there each week - have been excited about the increased visibility that being in the middle of downtown Silver Spring provides, adds McCann.

Fenton Street Market, October 3 (2)

McCann started the market to draw business to the Fenton Village neighborhood, and says she's "committed" to ensuring the area's vibrancy. "We're still going to be working for Fenton Village," she says. Village Square, a section of the market set aside for workshops and other events, will now be used to exhibit Fenton Village businesses. The market will also do special events in Fenton Village, including a special holiday market following the Thanksgiving Day parade in November.

With downtown Silver Spring's two big markets now across the street from each other, McCann suggests that the area will become an even bigger draw. "Our little market is hitting the big time," she writes. "There's a new Eastern Market in town!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"flash mob" of potomac kids converges on wheaton plaza, sells shoes

Our friends at Westfield Wheaton Wheaton Plaza sent us this video of a "flash mob" promoting the latest sales and promotions at the mall, set to the immortal classic "Footloose." Westfield worked with the choral department at "Potomac, MD's Church Hill High School," writes marketing director Sidney Woods.

After watching the video, I have three questions:

1) Have these kids ever set foot east of Rock Creek Park, let alone at Wheaton Plaza? (When I worked in Rockville, all of my teenaged coworkers warned each other never to "go to the sketchy Wheaton mall.")

2) Don't the folks at Westfield Wheaton know who Winston Churchill is, let alone that the school is named for him?

3) And when you hear the term "flash mob," do you think of a) a choreographed dance advertising a sale at Foot Locker; b), the packs of teenagers who converged on South Street in Philadelphia to rough up unsuspecting people; or c), hipsters throwing spontaneous pillow-fights? (Ah, those innocent days before social networking was used for only the purest of intentions.)

All snark aside, it's clear that the kids had fun doing this project, and before school started, no less. From what I can tell, they also edited the video, which looks very professional. Hopefully, they walked around the mall after taping was over, saw that nobody was getting shot or stabbed, discovered the Hollister, and concluded that there wasn't anything wrong with Wheaton Plaza. It sounds like Westfield's marketing department is getting the job done.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

random photo time!

I often take photos with my iPhone, but they never manage to make it to my computer. Here's some photos I've taken over the past few months:

Arts Alley Rendering
A rendering (ca. 2002) of Arts Alley, one of a series of recently-completed alleys in South Silver Spring that doesn't look as busy in real life.

Proposed Building in Downtown Silver Spring, 1980's
Drawing of a proposed building in downtown Silver Spring from the 1980's. I'm not sure where this building was supposed to go. I found this in the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, two floors down from my old job at the County Council.

Student Town Project, Park and Planning
At Park and Planning a few months ago, students from a local school were invited to make a model of their ideal city. I don't know any of the details about it, but I love seeing projects like this.

Hilton Ga_den _nn
Looks like the Hilton Garden Inn in Calverton got punked by that storm late last month.

Pop's Tattoo, Wheaton Plaza
There's a tattoo parlor in Westfield Wheaton Wheaton Plaza now, in the wing where Hecht's once was - and where Costco will soon open, though I wonder if Westfield's got a similar deal to open a Pop's Tattoo in all of their malls. Funny how it looks (or at least reminds me of) Hot Topic from the outside. There's also a gold-buying store in the mall now, if you're into that.

Suburban Stoop, King of Prussia Mall
Like all suburban malls, Wheaton Plaza lays awake in bed at night and dreams of being like King of Prussia Mall outside of Philadelphia, the largest mall on the East Coast. (At 2.8 million square feet, it's literally twice the size of Wheaton.) King of Prussia's probably the most diverse place in the Philadelphia area, because everybody likes to shop and they all come here.

It's funny to notice how quickly people adapt to urban habits when inside a [semi-]public space. Here, you can see people sitting on the stoop outside of Hollister (you'll have to squint a little). Imagine what they'd do with an outdoor stoop.