Neighbors of a proposed 187-unit apartment complex expressed concern about its height, its green space and the number of parking spaces at a meeting Monday.
Comstock Homes presented their plans, which call for a high rise at the corner of Eastern Avenue and Newell Street in the South Silver Spring neighborhood.
About 60 residents from that neighborhood and Shepherd Park in Washington, D.C., also objected to the project’s seven floors of residential units, 3,100 square feet of “neighborhood” retail space, 206 underground parking spaces and about 16,699 square feet of public-use space.
Comstock’s Steve Schmitz told the audience he was willing to revise the project to meet the needs of the community. He said the retail space likely would be a “neighborhood serving” business such as a dry cleaners, barber shop or coffee shop.
Architect Sherief Elfar, of Silver Spring-based Torti Gallas and Partners, said the proposed building would be a large improvement from the current self-storage facility, which he called “unattractive,” that occupies 100 percent of the land it sits on. Elfar said the open space provided on the corner of Eastern Avenue and Newell Street would be a green community space that is about 82 feet from the edge of Eastern Avenue and occupy no more than 50 percent of the land.
The proposed building will be 33 feet away from Eastern Village Cohousing and about 59 feet away from 8045 Newell St., which both border the proposed site. Still, some residents on Newell Street, such as Renee Tatusko, worry the proposed building will “dramatically impact” their building and the community.
Tatusko, whose patio backs into the proposed site, said the seven-story building will block air and sun. She and others said they were concerned about the new building’s effect on the environment.
“When you have 200 new units, you have [more] heating, air conditioning, gas, electricity and cars coming and going. This adds to the amount of carbon dioxide into the air,” Tatusko said.
Tatusko is one of six or seven residents of 8045 Newell that represent the concerns of their building. Fellow resident Dawn Brosnan has led the charge for a possible amendment that would request the zone be changed from residential to something more conducive to a park.
As of Tuesday, the group has collected 241 signatures — toward a 500 signature goal — for a petition that calls for a park in place of the apartment building.
“In general, what we’ve seen in the neighborhood is a strong need for green space. We are actually at a deficit considering many of the new buildings that have been developed have created pocket parks that are ... mostly cement,” Brosnan said. “We are in contact with the county planners and will be delivering the petition to show community support.”
Brosnan said the self-storage facility was isolated in 2010 as a prospective park by the county, which she hopes still is an option for the site.
Schmitz said the developers have given presentations to four or five communities, and they will speak with 8045 Newell on Monday about their concerns. They could make revisions to the plot, which is about a five-minute walk from the Silver Spring Metro station.
After meeting with the communities, Comstock has relocated the driveway to the parking garage from Eastern Avenue to Newell Street, relocated the loading dock to inside the building, expanded the “urban buffer park area” by about 2,750 square feet, decreased the size of the retail space and addressed the “safety concerns” of neighbors, which many residents in attendance argued was a non-issue.
Planners hope to file the project plan in September and anticipate the project before the planning board in December. If all goes according to plan, Schmitz said construction could start in two to three years.