Silver Spring biotech delays site plan hearing -- Gazette.Net


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Silver Spring biotech United Therapeutics Corp. delayed a scheduled site plan hearing on its proposed “net zero” building before the county Planning Board Thursday to modify the plan.

“We had some design changes, which warranted some modifications to the plan submitted,” said Andrew Fisher, a spokesman for the company.

Part of the changes involves working around a pole and lane-control signal box that state highway workers recently installed on a sidewalk along Colesville Road. That box and pole affect the design of the public space portion of the planned development, attorneys for UTC said in a letter to county planning officials.

There also are technological changes in certain elements proposed in the public space part that would cause some revisions, they said.

The expansion of UTC’s headquarters will involve demolishing a three-story parking garage with 152 spaces and redeveloping the site at Spring Street and Colesville with a six-story building, according to plans. The new building will have 111,724 square feet of offices and labs and 10,000 square feet of retail, along with 152 new parking spaces.

A planning report described the garage proposed to be demolished as “dilapidated” and referred to the proposed new building as a “striking gateway into the Silver Spring Central Business District.” The public space will include planting beds, special paving, bicycle racks and seating.

The report also said some nearby residents called county employees, voicing concerns over the potential loss of parking, noise and traffic impacts. A Silver Spring urban area advisory committee sent a letter in support of the expansion.

The “net zero” building would be capable of producing its own energy with solar panels, a green roof and special placement of windows to allow for natural light and cross breezes, among other environmentally sustainable features.

UTC now has 165 employees in Silver Spring and the new building will accommodate up to 100 more workers, Fisher said. The company also has offices in North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Florida, England and Germany.

The project is one of the few commercial office expansions planned in the near future in downtown Silver Spring, said Bruce H. Lee, president of Lee Development Group in downtown Silver Spring and a past president of the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce.

UTC showed a profit of $174.6 million on revenue of $1.1 billion last year.

UTC plans to resubmit the site plan around Aug. 1, Fisher said. The company plans to settle on the property by next April and start demolition within 60 days.

The construction process should take about two years, Fisher said.

kshay@gazette.net