Thursday, September 21, 2023

White Oak Town Center construction update


White Oak Town Center is a new strip mall / shopping center going in on the corner of Prosperity Drive and Industrial Parkway just off US 29 (Colombia Pike / Colesville Road) at the border of White Oak and Calverton in our fair state of Maryland.  I last posted about the White Oak Town Center development in March and a lot has changed since then.

If you are driving north on Columbia Pike, this is your first view. It is the corner of Industrial Parkway and Prosperity Drive (which is the access road that runs parallel to US-29). The tower in the center will be the shopping center sign and will have a clock at the top and the base will hide dumpsters for the development.


This space is for a grocery store. I don't know if one has signed up yet.  Originally it was going to be Trader Joes, then Amazon Fresh, but both have backed out.


On the side of the grocery store building is a large mural and a sign with the shopping center name.  The strip mall is arguably in Calverton, depending on where you put the fluid boarders of White Oak and Calverton, White Oak isn't a town, it is unincorporated, and in any case it is no where near the center of White Oak, so, every single word in the name of this strip mall could be considered wrong.

Here's a view of the parking lot and an access road. You can see that all the curbs are in, most of the decorative trees have been planted, and everything is ready to be paved.  This is close to being done.



Thursday, June 15, 2023

Town Square Garage changing how you pay

 On or about July 31, 2023 (so the end of next month) they are switching payment systems in Garage 61. This is the Town Square Garage next to the Silver Spring Civic Building and Ellsworth Drive.  Instead of paying when you return to your car, you will have to pay in advance for how long you think you will be there.  I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, I really like paying when I leave so I pay exactly the right amount. I also really don't like the pay-by-plate system, it is too slow. I much prefer pay by parking spot number. On the other hand, I have long found it odd that there are so many different payment systems in different garages throughout Montgomery County

According to the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT):

 On or about July 31, 2023, Garage 61 will be converted to a pay-by-plate facility. Click here to learn more about the payment system. Mobile payment will be available following the conversion through Parkmobile and Passport. To use mobile payment, enter the seven digit zone number (3610001), enter your license plate, choose your duration and begin the session. Card Access will be replaced by PCS Permits.


Old and new payment machines


The old payment machines are still active until the end of July, the one on the left accepts credit cards and cash (exact change only), the one on the right only accepts credit cards.  The two new machines are already installed but are covered up.

Also worth noting is that in both Silver Spring and Bethesda you will have to pay to park on Saturdays starting from July 8.  MCDOT says "On or about July 8, 2023, Saturday payment will be required.  Rates and hours requiring payment will be the same as the rest of the week."

Friday, March 31, 2023

Lakeforest Mall closes today

Blue snowflake entrance to Lakeforest Mall


I went to Lakeforest Mall at the end of February and posted pictures already. Today, however, is the last day it is open so I went back and took more photos. The mall will be redeveloped soon.

This is the Blue Snowflake entrance to Lakeforest mall. One of the four color coded seasonal entrances to the mall. This is at the food court, the old Sears was to the left.

A forlorn mall

Empty shops and kiosks at Lakeforest Mall, 701 Russell Ave, Gaithersburg, Maryland


There were more people than I expected at the mall. Most of them were walking around getting one last look at the mall, just like I was.  Lots of picture taking with cell phone cameras, some larger cameras, and even someone taking video on a tripod (a future documentary perhaps?)  Notable to me were the kids on roller skates making their way around the mall (but not very fast) and a young woman using a disposable film camera. That seemed very appropriate for the day.

Lakeforest Information booth

The old information booth in the central area of Lakeforest Mall. The glass elevator (still working) to the right.

Seating pit and sculpture

Outside each of the anchor stores was a sunken seating pit as well as a sculpture. This one is a shining, slightly twisted, non-descript shape rising up about a story and a half.

A zig-zag sculpture

A zig-zag of brushed chrome rising up out of the floor.

Marie's food spirts music

This brightly painted restaurant contrasts with the monotone colors of the rest of the mall.

Chi Chi's wall

The Chi Chi's at Lakeforest Mall closed about 20 years ago but nothing ever moved in to the space.  You can look in the windows and see part of the restaurant.

Goose don't care

The Canada Geese seem to like the mall closing and sit down in the middle of the road.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

A streetlight in a precarious position


This streetlight is leaning heavily and looks like a strong gust of wind could knock it over.  I saw this on Plum Orchard Drive in Calverton.  Back in 2016 there was a spate of falling streetlights on Plum Orchard Dr between Broadbirch Dr and Cherry Hill Rd. Those got fixed as part of the Adventist Healthcare White Oak Medical Center development. 

This little stub of Plum Orchard was ignored however, and the streetlights are really looking worse for the wear.  I really thing if someone leaned against this pole it would fall over.  It is also worth noting that the access panel looks to be held on with electrical tape.

When I took these pictures on Thursday, there was a van from an electrical company parked near one of the street  lights so it is possible these will be fixed soon. It is also possible that they will just fall to the ground before they get fixed.  I'll update as more information becomes available.

Friday, March 3, 2023

White Oak Town Center construction

White Oak Town Center (staff report here, it has the best overview) is a new strip mall being built on the site of a former industrial building at the corner of Industrial Parkway and Prosperity Drive in the White Oak / Calverton area of the half of the county called Silver Spring.

 The full development, with the one-story building in the background that is reported to be the future location of an Amazon Grocery store. in the center you can see the steel skeleton of what will become a monumental sign/clocktower/dumpster at the southwest corner of the development.  Next to it is a plaza with seating area where visitors to the shopping center can have a variety of experiences and enjoy the sights and sounds of Columbia Pike / U.S. Route 29. Closer to the camera where there is currently just a pile of dirt, there will be an accent wall.


White Oak Town Center as seen from Industrial Parkway
The view of the new construction from across Industrial Parkway near U.s. 29. The intersection with Prosperity Drive is immediately to the left and is very close to the intersection of Industrial Pkwy and Columbia Pike. This isn't an issue now since Prosperity Dr near the site is lightly used, however, with additional traffic this is likely to become a point of contention between users of the two roads both trying to enter Columbia Pike.

Future Grocery store

This is the northwestern end of the site, Prosperity drive is in the foreground and in the distance on the left you can see the sign for the Westech Corner strip mall at Tech Road. The building under construction will house a grocery store.

I'm not sure we need another strip mall when Westech Corner is within sight and has over half a dozen restaurants, and Orchard Center is only a mile away with Giant, Aldi, Target, and Kohl's. But, I'm not the planning board, and if they think we need another shopping center with a big parking lot instead of affordable housing a short walk away from a Flash bus stop, who am I to disagree.

development from the "spine" road

This is the low, one-story building that will have space for 3 retail stores. The road in the foreground is the "spine" road that will connect Industrial Parkway to Tech Road.

The view of the new construction from across Industrial Parkway near U.s. 29. The intersection with Prosperity Drive is immediately to the left and is very close to the intersection of Industrial Pkwy and Columbia Pike. This isn't an issue now since Prosperity Dr near the site is lightly used, however, with additional traffic this is likely to become a point of contention between users of the two roads both trying to enter Columbia Pike.


Sunday, February 12, 2023

8787 Georgia Avenue construction


The construction of 8787 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring. The building is full height and covert in a white Tyvek wrap.  When finished it will have 376 residential units and up to 32,000 square feet of retail space including a Mom's Organic Market.  This site used to be the location of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Headquarters (M-NCPPC) for the Montgomery County Planning Department and had a large surface parking lot.


The front view of the new 8787 Georgia Avenue currently being constructed with an estimated completion date of this Fall. There are two buildings that will be connected to each other and there will be underground parking, this is the west building, there is also one to the east.  You can view the Preliminary Plan and Site Plan here.



Thursday, February 2, 2023

White Oak Apartments construction, 2240 Broadbirch Dr


Demolition of the old Gannett USA Today National Customer Service Center located at 2240 Broadbirch Drive in Calverton, MD (or Silver Spring for those of you who insist on calling half of Montgomery County that) has begun. This is the building that is set back from the road and has four giant satellite dishes in front of it.

This will be replaced by a residential development with 359 unites in a 5 story building and two buildings with two-over-two development that contain 28 units. There will also be some public open space on the left side of the lot. You can view the planning board presentation for White Oak Apartments here.

The property being developed is across the street where the entrance is.
Blocked sidewalk

Even though the demolition is nowhere near the sidewalk, the construction site has blocked the public sidewalk forcing you to either walk through the heavy grass between trees or walk on the busy road.
More blocked sidwalk

A good view of how the sidewalk is blocked without any notice part way down the block. There is no good reason for them to have disrupted pedestrian traffic in this way.

The existing satellite dishes with the building partly demolished behind them

Thursday, July 7, 2022

New bridge on the Northwest Branch trail at MD-29

The northwest branch trail north at Maryland Route 29 is accessible from the Burnt Mills West parking lot by crossing over the Northwest Branch.  For a long time this was a bit of a hassle, and, a somewhat dangerous to boot.  There was a sidewalk on the bridge, but not one leading up to it or from the bridge to the trail entrance.  This means you had to walk through the grass on the side of the road or walk in the very busy road. Once you got to the trail entrance, your troubles were not over. You had to go down a steep embankment, cross a small creek on stepping stones, then climb up the other side.

Sidwalk leading to the bridge

 Sometime in the recent past this was changed for the better.  There is now a sidewalk from the parking lot all the way to the entrance, and there is now a sturdy bridge going over the creek.  This is a real improvement and makes getting to that trail much easier and hassle free.


Bridge at the start of the Northwest Branch trail

Looking down the bridge

Monday, February 14, 2022

Fenton Street, Silver Spring, Maryland

Large parts of the Silver Spring downtown area have been redeveloped, or ar in the process of being redeveloped.  This section of Fenton Street is a bit south of that area, around Silver Spring Ave and Sligo Ave.  It hasn't seen any new development in quite a while.

Fenton Street

7-Eleven, Many and Olga's, Ethio Addis Market, Lovely Inc: Checks Cashed.

This Greyhound bus stations doesn't look any different now than it did 30 years ago, except maybe the parking lot is in worse condition.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Purple Line Construction

It looks like construction of the purple line is pausing due to the state and Purple Line Transit Partners feuding over cost overruns and delays.  Because of that, it is likely that views such as these will be a part of our lives for quite some time.

These are the bridges that will carry the Purple Line (left) and the Capital Crescent Trail (right) over Colesville Road.

Intersecting girders