The revitalization of downtown Silver Spring just wouldn't have been complete without a new hotel. After all, one hadn't been built there for more than 30 years.

So whom did the county turn to? Bethesda-based Marriott International.

County officials and Marriott chief executive J.W. Marriott Jr. were on hand to open the 179-room Courtyard by Marriott last week. Also there was Brent Andrus, president of Huntington Hotel Group, which owns the facility.

"We're very excited to be part of the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring," Marriott said in a news release. "This hotel represents the reinvention of the Courtyard brand, and it's only fitting that it is the center of this newly energized downtown area with its exciting restaurants, art, music and entertainment."

The lobby of the hotel, which is at 8506 Fenton St., is decorated in mahogany. An outdoor courtyard has benches and tables. There's a business library with free wireless Internet access. Guests also have free access to the Washington Sports Club, which is on the hotel's two lower levels.

The rooms have ergonomic desks that can be moved. The modern bathrooms have granite vanities. And the beds have thicker-than-normal mattresses, softer sheets and more pillows.

"This is another exciting day in the rebirth of downtown Silver Spring," said County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D). "A destination city needs places for people to stay overnight so they can take advantage of all the benefits of the area."

Optical Store Bought

Frame Up Optical, a 30-year-old Bethesda establishment, has been bought by Bethesda Vision Care for an undisclosed sum.

"Frame Up Optical fits perfectly into our positioning as the largest full-service private optometric practice in Bethesda," said Michael Berenhaus, owner of Bethesda Vision Care.

Frame Up's former owner and optician, Gary Shpritz, will work with Bethesda Vision Care. The store will be absorbed into Bethesda Vision Care, at 4300 East-West Hwy. in downtown Bethesda.

Firm Gets Smallpox Funds

BioFactura Inc., a privately held Rockville biotech company, has been awarded funding from the Defense Department to conduct research on and develop a man-made antibody for use against smallpox, which government officials say could be loosed by terrorists as a biological weapon.

BioFactura will work on the drug with scientists from the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Chamber Dinner

The Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce will hold a dinner at 5:30 p.m. next Thursday to install officers for the coming year.

The dinner will be at the Gaithersburg Marriott Washingtonian Center, 9751 Washingtonian Blvd. The price is $35 for members and $45 for non-members. There also will be a silent auction.

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