Property values in the Four Corners area of Silver Spring have not been hurt by school closings and increased commercial development, according to a study made at the request of area residents and released last week.
In fact, property values have performed slightly better in Four Corners, a primarily residential, five-mile-square area spiraling outwards from the intersection of University Boulevard and Rte. 29, than in the rest of Montgomery County over the past 10 years and homes there are sold more quickly than the county average, the study indicates.
Some area residents had expressed concern to county officials and, instead of offering verbal assurances, officials decided last spring to pay for a study that would show exactly how property values are faring.
County officials said that this was the first property value study ordered for a specific neighborhood and that the county already is receiving requests from community leaders in other neighborhoods who want studies of their own.
The Four Corners survey was conducted over the summer by Real Estate Analysis Inc. for $3,300, county spokesman William Sher said.
The county averages were derived from a separate, regularly published report by another real estate consulting firm that has tracked home values and the time it takes to sell homes in the county as a whole for the last 14 years.
The study "has been a tremendous help to the government and to the community," said Meg Riesett, a Montgomery County government liaison official in Wheaton, near Four Corners.
Community leaders in Four Corners do seem somewhat mollified by the favorable report, but said they still are concerned about school closings and increased traffic.
"We are pleased to have good news," said Ralph D. Bennett, a civic leader and a resident of Four Corners for seven years. "The report seems substantial and well-researched. But that does not mean we will not monitor the continuing deterioration of county services."
Bennett said he and four other civic association leaders representing some 26 subdivisions approached Gilchrist and Montgomery County officials last spring because they were irate over a series of recent county decisions regarding their neighborhoods.
Northwood High School, in the heart of the area, is scheduled to be closed at the end of this school year, as is the Four Corners Elementary School; the parks commission also has plans to close an ice skating rink in the area; and the Wheaton Library on Georgia Avenue has been closed for renovations.
At the same time, commercial and multifamily residential development along Rte. 29 has escalated in the last five years. "It went from being a very sparsely populated road to one dense with development," Riesett said. "That has caused a lot of concern about traffic, but the study shows Four Corners is still a desirable place to live."
County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist said he, too, is pleased with the study, but added that the Four Corners neighborhood will continue to be monitored periodically for possible declines in property values.
County officials also said they may use such reports in the future to gauge the impact of their policy decisions on specific neighborhoods.
In the meantime, residents in Four Corners have been assured that their homes are still valuable.
"We still object to the school closings," Bennett said. "But the study was a good idea, and Gilchrist should get credit. A study like that is self-fullfilling. If a widely publicized report says our property values are higher, then our values are higher. Of course we are pleased with that."