Wednesday, July 6, 2016

downtown silver spring could get a big, new, temporary park

Downtown Silver Spring could get a big new park as part of a massive redevelopment of the Blairs, an apartment complex across the street from the Metro. The park will be temporary, but eventually several larger parks will take its place.

Plan of the new park from the Montgomery County Planning Department.

First built in the 1950s, the Blairs are a complex of apartments, offices, and a strip mall across from the Silver Spring Metro station. Owner Tower Companies will redevelop the 27-acre superblock over the coming years, replacing a massive parking lot with 1400 new apartments (there are 1400 there now), new retail, and four acres of new parks.

The first new apartment tower, called the Pearl, is under construction, but much of the new stuff won't arrive for a decade. In the meantime, Tower wants to create a park over one acre in size on the site of a future apartment building.

The Pearl (New Apartments at The Blairs) Under Construction, March 2016
The Pearl under construction. The temporary park would go in front of it. Photo by the author.

Located near the corner of Eastern Avenue and Blair Mill Road, the new park would have a big lawn and a wood stage for performances. A playground and adult-sized fitness equipment would let people of all sizes work out, while a "fitness trail" would loop around the entire site. The park would also include a community garden and a temporary building that might house a leasing center.

While the park is set to go on private property, it would be open to both Blairs residents and the surrounding neighborhood. The park would be a welcome addition for neighbors who have clamored for more open space in the past. Silver Spring doesn't lack for parks, but many of them are either too small or designed to be unusable.

_Blair Park - Aerial
One of several new parks that will eventually come to the Blairs. Image from Tower Companies.

This wouldn't be the first temporary park in downtown Silver Spring. Over a decade ago, residents and visitors alike fell in love with "the Turf," an artificial grass lawn on Ellsworth Drive, and protested when it was removed to build Veterans Plaza. Possibly hoping to avoid the same result, Tower Companies will place signs at "visible locations" around their temporary park "informing both residents and visitors that the temporary green is the future location of a residential building, and that it is not permanent."


Liz Brent said...

In our household, the turf was The Green Grass.

David Fogel said...

This would be such a welcome addition to South Silver Spring, by far one of the least served neighborhood's in Montgomery County by the Parks Dept.

S. Chapman said...

I remember when it was a wooded piece of land with just the old ruins of the Blair estate. And I watched as an 8-year old in 1958 when the fire department set it ablaze to make way for being developed.

S. Chapman said...

In 1957 or 1958, aged 7 or 8, I watched the SS fire department burn down the ruins of the old Blair estate on the site, which was then wooded and a big hill off Colesville between 16th and East West Highway. It was an amazing sight