“We want to create opportunities for the young and hip, and the older with hip replacements,” she said.
But the immediate focus is likely to be the millennials, and it will start with night life. Although the redeveloped Silver Spring is a success on many levels, Riemer said it is “not even close” to being a hipster magnet.
“It’s the best we’ve got, but we’ve got to take it to the next level,” he said. That means more music venues like the Fillmore, along with practice space for musicians. New hotel options would also help. Riemer said he has heard that bands playing the Fillmore won’t stay in Silver Spring because they turn their noses up at the hotels.
“They don’t want to trash a room that Keith Richards trashed in the ’60s,” he said.
Dale Rodman, a Silver Spring musician and Montgomery native, said a major music festival with mainstream bands “would generate some good energy.”
“It’s tough when you’re next door to D.C.,” said Rodman, 24, whose rock-reggae group, Dale and the ZDubs, plays all over the region. “It takes a lot of the cred and a lot of the hype.”
Then there are the millennials themselves, who find the county “brand” sedately suburban, or at best “urban-lite.”
“Montgomery County is . . . Silver Spring, right?” asked Bianca Blomquist, 24, a lobbyist who lives in Columbia Heights. “Went up to eat there a couple of times. Wasn’t bad. Seemed all right for a suburb . . . It’s kind of cookie-cutter. At least I perceive it to be that way a little more.”
Would she consider living there?
“Maybe after 35, but I’ve never perceived myself as an in-betweener. I either want an urban setting or a rural setting. But the in-between? I don’t like it that much.”
Officials also want to take a look at liquor laws that have left Silver Spring and other parts of the county “under-barred,” as one planner put it, meaning a shortage of places for people to meet and drink.
One issue is a law requiring establishments to maintain an even split in their food and alcohol sales.
“The ratio has probably outlived its usefulness,” said Kathie Durbin, a division chief for the county’s Department of Liquor Control. She explained that the measure probably dates to the end of Prohibition, when drinks were 50 cents. In the era of the $12 martini, a 50-50 split makes less sense. Durbin is also working on a plan that would allow certain businesses to sell “growlers,” the half-gallon jugs of craft beer patrons can fill at breweries and take home.