Victory House rendering of Spring House as seen from Ellsworth Urban Park.
The former Silver Spring Library on Colesville Road would be torn down and replaced with a four-story senior independent living facility, with a child care component, under a plan proposed by the second of two finalists selected in a Request for Proposals process.
The 92-unit Spring House would be owned and operated by Victory Housing, the affordable housing development arm of the Archdiocese of Washington. The organization operates or oversees 31 facilities in the area that provide more than 2,100 rental units.
“The design of the building really focused on echoing not just the style of the building that is there right now,” said Leila Finucane, Victory Housing president, “but also the scale of the neighborhood.
“What we’re looking to do is bring an additional community asset to the space, a multi-use, intergenerational facility that will have laces for the community to come and use occasionally, for meeting and thing like that,” she continued, “but will also meet the need of child care and affordable housing.”
The childcare facility would be 6,000 square feet of space on the ground level to serve 80-100 children. CommuniKids, a language immersion school for preschoolers and kindergarten children that also offers childcare and other programs, would operate the facility.
Spring House would include 15 two-bedroom apartments. The balance would be one-bedroom units. Twenty units would not have income restrictions, 45 units would be designated for residents at or below 60 percent of the area median income, 17 for those at or below 50 percent of AMI, and five units each for residents at or below 40 percent and 30 percent of AMI.
The building also would include common space and, typically, amenities such as television, computer, game and community rooms, a library, and fitness and wellness centers.
Most of the common areas would be on the same level as the CommuniKids space.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children accredits the CommuniKids program, said Raul Echeverria, the cofounder and president.
“[The program] emphasizes three basic areas of competency,” he said. “The first one is strong social and emotional healthiness.
“Second is a high-quality kindergarten readiness program,” he continued.
Finally, the school emphasizes multilingualism by teaching language-immersion programs in French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.
In order to finance the building and operations as well as ensure affordability, “we will be leveraging a number of resources to do that—private funds, in particular we have a first-mortgage lender, [and] we do get money from the state on our projects,” said Jeff Blackwell, Victory Housing’s vice president of real estate development.
The organization is pursuing a $10,000 annual grant from Capital One to help fund resident and childcare programs, and will apply for Low Income Housing Tax Credits. In addition, they will seek financing through the county’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs in the form a loan that would be repaid, thought Blackwell couldn’t give an amount at this time.
Spring House, the axis of which will be perpendicular to Colesville Road and Ellsworth Drive, will take up most of the lot, leaving little green space, which caused some concern among the audience. Another issue was the plan to include 92 parking spaces, which seemed excessive to some.
Finally, the team was asked about potentially saving and repurposing some of the library. The team responded that they would try to reuse what they could from the library, as well as incorporate interior elements to tell the library’s story to future residents and visitors.
In the meantime, the Victory Housing presentation is online and the public is encouraged to submit comments. Those will be included in the Department General Services report to the county executive, who will make the final decision between the two proposals.
While there is no specific timeline set, DGS officials said they expected the decision to come in the next couple of months.
If selected, the Victory Housing plan would have to go through the special exception process, which would allow additional opportunities for comments.
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