Three Notable Additions To a Thriving Silver Spring
Thursday, September 7, 2006
In Silver Spring these days, it seems there are groundbreakings, ribbon-cuttings and grand openings almost every day.
For three days last week, that's exactly what happened.
On Tuesday, Montgomery College celebrated the grand opening of its $32.9 million Student Services Center at Fenton Street and New York Avenue. It features a cafeteria, bookstore, conference rooms, lounge, classrooms and computer labs.
On Wednesday, a ribbon-cutting was held for the $7.7 million Forest Glen Pedestrian Bridge on the west side of Georgia Avenue between Locust Grove and Forest Glen roads. The bridge and bikeway allows access to the Forest Glen Metro station and retail outlets across Georgia Avenue.
On Thursday, county and state officials gathered for the ceremonial groundbreaking for the $16.8 million Easter Seals/Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Inter-Generational Center, which will provide services to children, adults and seniors with disabilities.
"I've been here long enough to remember when I was calling people . . . begging for them to pay attention to us, and nobody was interested in much of what was going on down here," said Susan Hoffman of the Silver Spring Regional Services Center. "Now there's a huge interest, and people not only want to know about it, they want to be a part of it."
The spotlight on the new projects came the same week as word that a sister venue to the Birchmere music hall may come to downtown Silver Spring, which is undergoing a major revitalization.
The opening of the Montgomery College center marks the completion of the second phase of the $143 million expansion of the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus. The first phase included realignment of Fenton Street and construction of the Health Sciences Center, which opened in 2004. The third phase, to be completed next year, will include a visual arts center with a gallery, sculpture studio and space that can be rented to artists.
The 110,500-square-foot Student Services Center provides a one-stop shop for students, who previously had to go to different parts of campus for administrative assistance.
The quarter-mile pedestrian and bike bridge spans three Capital Beltway ramps. The bridge, paid for mostly by county money, was built to provide safer and more convenient access to the Forest Glen Metro station.
The Easter Seals center, which will be built on land donated by the county, is expected to create more than 175 jobs, officials said. In addition to the land, the county donated $750,000 for the project, which is at Second Street and Spring Road.
Lisa Reeves, president and chief executive of Easter Seals Greater Washington Baltimore Region, said the goal is, among other things, intergenerational interaction. "We believe sharing resources by serving people of all ages is the wave of the future," she said. "We have a commitment to making sure one generation is helping the other."
Hoffman is expecting more openings, particularly of restaurants, in the coming months, which will generate more attention for the burgeoning downtown.
"It's changed the landscape, literally and figuratively," she said. "And it also brings more people here, and it changes the function of the downtown and gets more attention and more interest and more viability."