With a new name and renovation plans in the approval process, the former Discovery building is drawing significant interest from potential tenants, according to Bryant Foulger, chairman of Foulger-Pratt.
The Potomac-based company bought the building last fall in partnership with Cerberus Capital Management, a New York private investment firm.
“It’s a great building. It’s an awesome building. That’s one of the things that attracted us to it,” Foulger said. “It’s a LEED Platinum building; it was one of the first in the area. It’s an attractive building, it’s well located, it’s next to Metro rail, Metro bus, soon to be the Purple Line, [and] it’s at the intersection of Colesville and Georgia. It’s kind of at ground zero.”
While the building is more than 500,000 square feet, Foulger said that Discovery originally designed it so it could be subdivided for smaller tenants. It’s really two buildings, with manageable floor plans, he added.
Fouler-Pratt has renamed the building Inventa Towers (“inventa” is Latin for “discovery”) and is now working on creating a multi-tenant environment on the site.
For example, there is not a good entrance to the Colesville Road portion of the building and a lack of an area for vehicular drop-off.
“We see between the already-existing, high-level use of Uber and Lyft, that people get dropped off a lot,” Foulger said, adding that Purple Line users also will be looking for an inviting arrival space.
“Taking into account driverless cars—whenever they come, they’ll come—taking into account the number of ridesharing people that get dropped off,” Foulger said, “we’re going to take the entrance that’s over on the Wayne Avenue side [where] there’s a small drop-off [and] we’re going to extend that back towards the Colesville Road building.”
The company also plans to create a new lobby on that side of the building for a better, more inviting entrance.
In addition, the existing conference room will be reconfigured, and a portion of the receiving/loading dock area near Wayne Avenue will be converted to a fitness center, one of the employee amenities tenants now look for in an office building.
Another change will be the addition of some type of retail in what was the main lobby, Foulger said, which would help light up and activate the area in the evening.
Outside the building, on the corner of Wayne and Georgia avenues, he said, “We’re going to change some of the hardscape and the landscape areas. . .we’re going to put in artificial turf in some of those areas and seating for both co-working as well as individual working.”
People who work in the building as well as those from the community will be able to use wi-fi to work or meet in that area, Foulger said, describing it as “an outdoor living room [and] outdoor conference room” with seating and tables of various sizes.
The existing café will remain, he said, but added, “As the owner of Downtown Silver Spring, we want as many of the people in there to be out on the street as possible.”
In the meantime, Foulger said the company is marketing Inventa Towers to a variety of prospective tenants through JLL, a Chicago-based leasing and property management firm.
“The size of the building, its location inside the Beltway, the quality of the building, means that it has gotten, and will continue to get, the attention of tenants not just in Silver Spring and not just in Montgomery County, but across the entire region,” Foulger said.
He pointed out that for a tenant looking for 150,000-200,000 square feet, there are only so many possibilities, and even fewer for 300,000 to 400,000 square feet.
“We’ve had education groups look at it, we’ve had medical groups look at it, we’ve had design groups look at it, we’ve had media companies look at it,” Foulger said, as well as general office tenants.
He also confirmed a report that a prospective tenant he described as “high quality, high profile, regional tenant that I think everybody would love to have in the area” had signed a letter of intent, and said they were in discussions with others.
“The level of interest in the building has been very strong.”
Top photo, the fencing will come down and the small drop-off area (portion seen on the right) will be extended around to the left wing of the building. Photo by Mike Diegel). Below, series of renderings courtesy Foulger-Pratt.