Twenty years after it first opened, City Place Mall has fallen on hard times. This winter, it'll get a new name and several new stores as the shopping complex's owners seek to reposition it as an outlet mall, creatively dubbed The Outlets at Silver Spring.
Developer Petrie Ross, who purchased City Place in 2007 and sought approval from the county to make a variety of major renovations, has formed a team to reposition the ailing shopping center with new owner Hutensky Capital Partners and EW+B Development, a subsidiary of real estate firm CBRE who renovated the Perryville Outlet Center in Cecil County.
I wonder how effective a new name will be. Wheaton Plaza changed its name in 2005, but you rarely see "Westfield Wheaton" outside of news articles. On the other hand, the town of Riverdale Park changed its name from Riverdale due to that name's bad reputation, and now they're getting a Whole Foods.
Not surprisingly, the developers are capitalizing on the existing success of the Downtown Silver Spring complex, which despite its undeserved association with gangs, remains a pretty neat place to go.
And that brings us to Michael Jackson singing over a montage of store signs and little kids playing in the fountain on Ellsworth Drive. Watching the video, I felt like we'd all forgotten how great Silver Spring really was. "Well-Connected to the Suburbs and the City!" screams one page on The Outlets' website. "They have affluence. Education. Status," boasts the home page of people in Silver Spring. "Fronts a thriving pedestrian scene," notes the brochure (PDF). Almost every page on their website has a picture of people having a great time on Ellsworth Drive.
If that doesn't convince retailers to set up shop at The Outlets (and it doesn't make sense that the kind of upscale places popping up around every other Metro station in Greater Washington haven't come here already), at least those who already live and do business in Silver Spring will feel a little better. Even if The Outlets at Silver Spring doesn't nudge us a little closer to being Bethesda (or even Columbia Heights!), hopefully it'll give people more reasons to come here.
(Thanks to Silver Spring, Singular for the heads-up.)