Planning Board Declines to Reconsider DTSS Renovation Plans

The Planning Board this morning declined to reconsider its July 2 resolution approving a site plan amendment that proposed a $10 million renovation of the Downtown Silver Spring development.

Chairman Casey Anderson noted that the board had received “multiple requests” for reconsideration of the earlier action.

Associate General Counsel Delisa Coleman advised the board that the law provided for reconsideration on the grounds of a mistake, fraud or other good cause.

In addition, she added, “the motion to be made for a reconsideration must be made by a member of the Planning Board who voted in the majority on the decision that is subject to the reconsideration.”

Anderson, along with Commissioners Partap Verma and Gerald Cichy, voted for the July 2 resolution, while Commissioner Natali Fani-Gonzalez abstained. Commissioner Tina Patterson was absent for the vote.

Following Coleman’s remarks, Anderson asked for a motion to reconsider.

“Hearing none, that request for reconsideration is denied,” he said.

The renovation plan includes a proposal to permanently close Ellsworth Drive to vehicular traffic from Fenton Street to just beyond Fountain Plaza, and lay down nontoxic artificial turf to create a “linear urban park.”

The approval is contingent on the county consenting to abandon that stretch of Ellsworth. If the council declines to do so, the plan must provide an alternative to the artificial turf.

There also will be changes to the Fountain Plaza, said Bryant Foulger, chairman of Fougler-Pratt, one of DTSS owners, during a public meeting about the plan in September 2019.

“We want to open this space up to where we can have events,” Foulger said.

To that end, the large existing staircase will be removed, and replaced with what Foulger described as a “lighter, much lacier, more transparent” type of staircase, while the elevator will be moved into the building.

In addition, the renovation will include eliminating the current fountain, which is old, breaks down frequently and is difficult to repair. The temporary stage will be eliminated, and a series of wooden forms will be installed on the plaza area, which can be used for seating when there are no activities.

Other changes are planned to the Gateway Plaza at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road.

“We’re going to eliminate the big Downtown Silver Spring fountain that’s out there. We don’t need that anymore, honestly, so we’re going to eliminate that,” Foulger said in September, “[and] replace that with a really interesting iconic art piece that will be fun and interesting and engaging.”

In addition, plans call for the removal of about 15 parking spaces along the side of the lot facing Red Lobster and The Eleanor, and the addition of outdoor seating space.

The DTSS development is a partnership between Foulger-Pratt, Peterson Companies, and ARGO Investment Company.

Rendering courtesy Peterson Companies

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