Developers Fine-Tune Plans for Public Fitness, Aquatic Center in Silver Spring

Planning board expected to hold November hearing on Elizabeth Square proposal


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Depiction of Elizabeth Square development, showing the 120,000-square-foot public aquatic and fitness center planned for the Silver Spring site.

Via KGD Architecture

The team in charge of building Silver Spring’s public fitness and aquatic center has released images detailing the vision for the project.

The 120,000-square-foot center forms part of a larger plan to revitalize the Elizabeth Square site – near the intersection of Apple and Second avenues – by building two new residential high-rises and renovating a third apartment building.

The Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission has partnered with the Lee Development Group in the effort to establish downtown Silver Spring’s first county recreation center and bring more than 400 additional apartments to the property.

The proposal is scheduled for a November hearing before the county planning board, said Mel Tull of Lee Development.

The board has signed off on plans for Elizabeth Square, but aspects of the project have since been redesigned to incorporate a larger swimming pool and recreation space, staff reports show. The development team submitted new images and a project description ahead of the planning board meeting.

“It’s a world-class, publicly available swim center with recreational activities right in downtown Silver Spring,” said Stacy Spann, executive director of the HOC. “It adds a level of opportunity to intersect with those activities that’s unparalleled.”

Construction will happen in several phases to minimize disruption to residents at Elizabeth House, a 160-unit senior housing complex built in 1966.

First, developers will tear down three townhomes most recently used as offices and replace them with Elizabeth House III, a 16-story building with up to 267 units. Meanwhile, renovations next door at the Alexander House will decrease the number of units from 311 to 305.

The county-operated recreation and community center will be attached to Elizabeth House III. It will include an 11-lane competition pool, a recreation pool, a leisure pool, a sauna and spas, a gymnasium with a basketball court, a social hall, activity rooms and a fitness area. A senior wellness center will operate in the space through a partnership with Holy Cross Hospital.

Building the center is estimated to cost the county $55 million over the next six years, officials have said.

Tull said this step could start in early 2018 and take several years to complete. The goal is to have the aquatic center and housing complex up finished in 2020, Spann said.

Once the senior residents move into the new high-rise, developers can demolish the old Elizabeth House and start work on Elizabeth House IV, a 23-story building with 334 housing units. The apartment building will include 51 moderately priced units and 33 workforce housing units, the plans state.

The revised plan relies on claiming county-owned land that follows the original alignment of Fenwick Lane, according to the staff report. The development partners have filed a petition asking the county to relinquish the property, which they’ve argued is no longer needed for transportation purposes.

An aerial view of the Elizabeth Square development in Silver Spring. The senior housing stands along the CSX tracks, while the two apartment buildings border Second Avenue. Plaza entrances are on Second and Apple avenues. Via KGD Architecture.

A rendering showing the Elizabeth Square plaza as seen from Second Avenue. Via KGD Architecture.

View of the aquatic center from across the plaza. Via KGD Architecture.

View from Apple Avenue. Via KGD Architecture.

Elizabeth Square project as seen from Fenwick Lane. Via KGD Architecture.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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