The Blairs Getting a Remake
The Abramson boys grew up across from the 28-acre Silver Spring site their father Sonny discovered in the early '50s—known as The Blairs. Now, they're inching closer to an ambitious redevelopment, we learned last night at an event celebrating the complex. (At a party for it, they said they'd tear it down? That's why you never trust someone with a cake.) The Tower Cos' Jeffrey Abramson (left) tells us most public meetings have been held for the redevelopment, which will bring 2,800 residential units, 450k SF of commercial space, and five acres of open space at the site off East-West Highway and Colesville Road. Tower's plans will go through the Montgomery County Planning Board this fall, and demolition would begin later this year. We snapped Jeffrey with Montgomery County executive Ike Leggett, brother Gary Abramson, and Sri Velamati.
Sri, formerly of Archstone and Penzance, came on board a year ago to run point on The Blairs project for Tower, which he calls "a linchpin opportunity" to give Silver Spring a modern, sustainable large-scale project. The parking lots that now take up much of The Blairs' Giant-anchored shopping center will be gone; in place will be a huge public courtyard. (They paved a parking lot to put up a paradise.) The new Blairs will also push green initiatives like allowing future residents to grow and compost food. Each of the six buildings on site will also be connected, too, to instill a sense of community among visitors and residents.
A closer look at the public courtyard, where the shopping center now sits. Tower says the green space in the middle will be set up to support concerts, farmer's markets, and to screen movies and other live events. Sri tells us the first two buildings to be constructed as part of the redevelopment will include 470 apartment units across two towers.
The designs (Design Collective is in charge of drawing up the first phase) will have to go through Montgomery County Planning Board chair Francoise Carter (right) and her team first. We snapped Francoise with county economic development chief Steve Silverman, who tells us he and Francoise are also busy working on getting the master plan of Bethesda's Apex Building—which could be demolished to make way for a future Purple Line station—through the approval process.