Saturday, December 30, 2017

ten very silver spring things that happened in 2017

Outside of East County, 2017 was a tumultuous and often disturbing year. But here in East County, we found opportunities to be grateful, to celebrate, and to come together with our families, friends, and neighbors to make our corner of the world a better place. In keeping with our annual(ish) tradition, let's take a look back at the big stories of the past year here in Silver Spring:

That's Governor Larry Hogan, knocking down a building at the Purple Line groundbreaking. Photo by Aimee Custis on Flickr.

  1. The Purple Line is officially a thing. After a 2014 lawsuit was finally resolved, the light-rail line between Bethesda and New Carrollton finally broke ground in August at a ceremony where Governor Larry Hogan used an earthmover to tear into a building. Construction is well underway in Silver Spring: trees are coming down on the Capital Crescent Trail, the Spring Center shopping center has been roped off and stores have moved out; and Arliss Street in Long Branch will be closed for the next few years. While the work is disruptive, it’ll be worth it. To see all the places the Purple Line will connect, my friend Sean Emerson and I took a trip on the route this summer, which you can watch.
  2. MoCo’s biggest campaign in a long time. Voters approved term limits last year, which means that for the first time ever, three County Council seats and County Executive are all open at the same time. Not only did the 2018 campaign season start early (many candidates announced last summer), but it’s huge, with over 40 people either running or considering a run for County Council alone. To say this is a consequential election is an understatement, as it could bring in a number of new, fresh faces to local politics - or take us a big step backward.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

here's why new homes in silver spring are so expensive, and how we can fix it

Why do new houses in the DC area cost as much as they do? One of the biggest factors is the cost of land. There’s a way to fix that problem and make it easier to build more homes on a piece of land — but in most cases it isn’t available.

These two vacant lots in Silver Spring were for sale this summer. Image by the author.

Let’s do a thought experiment. Say you’re a smalltime developer who builds one-off houses in close-in, established neighborhoods. You’ve got access to a construction loan from a local bank, which you have to pay back in one year — enough time to build the house and sell it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

this craft beer shop could be the future of retail in MoCo

Suburban strip malls aren't known for their ambiance. As shoppers seek out unique experiences or just take their business online, these places could be in deep trouble. In Montgomery County, a new study aims to prepare suburban shopping districts for the future of retail.

quench in colesville
Quench! is a craft beer shop and restaurant in an unlikely place.
Lately I’ve been buying my booze at this place called Quench!, which has an amazing selection of craft beer from little companies like Evil Twin and Stillwater that can be hard to find. In the back is a deli with amazing sandwiches, and once a week, a local bakery called Upper Crust sets up in one of the aisles to sell bread. Next door, there's a tap room, with a little patio shrouded in ivy and string lights.

You probably expect me to tell you this place is in Shaw, or in a new "town center"-style development like the Mosaic District. In fact, Quench! sits in a grungy, half-vacant 1960s strip mall far out New Hampshire Avenue in eastern Montgomery County, a stretch of road with so many sprawling megachurches that it's called the "Highway to Heaven." It might just hold some secrets to the future of retail — and suburbia.