The view from one of the spacious apartments high in Silver Spring Towers nicely shows why many of the tenants of the two-building complex love to live there.
Look one way, and you see downtown Silver Spring, a focus of new construction in recent years: Restaurants, art stores, music shops, City Place Mall and movie theaters, all within two or three blocks of the apartment buildings. A Safeway supermarket is across the street, and a Whole Foods market is about three blocks away. As for public transportation, there is a Metrobus stop right in front of the Towers, and a Metrorail station about three blocks away.
Gaze the other way, and you see the older residential part of Silver Spring, a quiet neighborhood of charming clapboard houses and ramblers. The 16-story towers, befitting their location, offer the dynamism of downtown life and the stability of an established neighborhood.
As she prepared to move to the Washington area from Dallas 18 months ago, Kisha Smith checked out an apartment in Silver Spring Towers on the recommendation of a friend.
"I came over to look at the apartment and fell in love with it," she said.
"The great advantage to me is it's so close to my job," said Smith, 31, who works as an administrative assistant for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, three blocks from the towers.
Smith said she sometimes takes training classes at her office. Workers from throughout the region attend the classes, she said. "The instructors ask where people are coming from, and they name locations that take hours to get here," Smith said. "Then they come to me. The other people in the class were envious."
One day, Smith was at her office when she realized she had left her organizer at home. "I really needed it. I just walked back and got it," Smith said. "At this location, I have access to everything -- movie theaters, the grocery store, restaurants, the dry cleaners. Everything's walking distance."
Another resident, Sarah Smith, 54, agreed that the building's convenient location is a huge attraction.
"It's convenient to everything. I'd have to do a lot of soul-searching before leaving here," said Smith, who has lived in the building for 10 years.
Smith likes living in the Towers so much that she has brought in other family members. A sister, Frances Bishop, lives in the building, and Smith's daughter, Natasha Jackson, also had an apartment there until she bought a townhouse about three years ago, Smith said.
From the outside, Silver Spring Towers looks like a standard 1960s high-rise, which stands to reason because it was built in 1963. There is a large pool deck on the fourth floor, between the two towers. The pool is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and lifeguards are on duty, provided by Southern Management Corp., which runs the building.
Residents praised the management of the building. Front desks at the two towers are staffed around the clock. Residents said requests for repairs are fulfilled quickly.
Thora Scherstrom, 81, said she once had a light bulb that went out in her apartment. She said she wrote a note and left it at the front desk, and the bulb was replaced within an hour.
Besides making sure the apartments and buildings are well-maintained, managers help organize poolside barbecues during the summer. Building management also provides free continental breakfasts to residents on Saturdays.
Silver Spring Towers is now undergoing renovations. The roofs of the two towers are being refurbished and many windows throughout the building are being replaced, said Katie Sorota, an outreach specialist for Southern Management. In the second phase of the renovations, a fitness center is to be built and the lobbies are to be refurbished, she said.
"The prices have not gone up, but the amenities are being improved," Sorota said.