The county’s Planning Board on Thursday approved the first phase of the Studio Plaza project, a five-acre mixed-use development project planned for downtown Silver Spring.
The project was approved without any conditions to incorporate changes to its design despite community concerns, according to Elza Hisel-McCoy, a planner/coordinator for Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
Community members have raised concerns about the building’s mass, though Hisel-McCoy said the planning staff perspective — echoed by the county’s Planning Board — was that the master plan for the Silver Spring Central Business District calls for “higher density development” and “taller buildings.”
Though there will be a contrast to the current one-and two-story development around the site of the proposed Studio Plaza project, Hisel-McCoy said the difference will decrease as other proposed properties spring up around Studio Plaza.
He also said the planning department received at least 25 letters from community members about the project, including concerns about the lack of openness of the public space in the center of the proposed development. Hisel-McCoy said approval included a condition that “the applicant had begun to undertake” — pulling the retail back, so there is a visual connection into the public space from Thayer Avenue and a clear access point.
The three-part project by Robert Hillerson and Michael LLC is planned for the block between Georgia Avenue and Fenton Street and between Thayer and Silver Spring avenues. The first part will feature about 415 rental apartments, more than 10,000 square feet of retail space, a large public green space and an underground county parking garage.
The development will be about 10 stories high, Hisel-McCoy said. The next step for developers is to submit a certified site plan, which should be completed by the spring, Hisel-McCoy said. After that, developers will have to apply for permits through Montgomery County, he said.
Bryan Condie of Michael LLC could not confirm a date, but said developers are “optimistic” for a July groundbreaking.