Office Buildings
By  Caitlynn Peetz
Published  Apr 13, 2021
Featured in  Bethesda Magazine

The Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission plans to convert a parking lot in downtown Silver Spring into its new headquarters.

The Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) announced in late 2019 that it planned to relocate from its Kensington location within three years.

The new building will be about 132 feet tall, according to Planning Board documents, and will sit at the intersection of Fenwick Lane and Second Avenue.

The location is important, Planning Board documents say, because it is near one of the HOC’s largest projects — Elizabeth Square, a future multi-building development with up to 906 residences — and provides “public services related to the agency’s affordable housing mission in a transit-rich downtown.”

The Housing Opportunities Commission was formed in 1974 to respond to the county’s need for affordable housing.

The new site is about a quarter-mile from the Silver Spring Metrorail station and a future Purple Line transit station. There will be no on-site parking provided.

“As the new headquarters of a public agency, the HOC HQ building will contribute a civic presence in downtown Silver Spring,” a Planning Board staff report says. “The Project will provide an office building that will enhance the community with high quality architecture, enliven the area, and connect to other downtown area uses.”

The Planning Board will review the proposed project during a meeting on Thursday.

The owner of a nearby condominium building submitted a letter opposing the HOC project because he feels it will affect the condo building’s views, natural light and privacy.

In its response, Planning Department staff members wrote that the project will “have a significant impact on the views and sunlight” for the building’s west-facing units. But, the response said, “[a]ny feasible redevelopment of this surface parking lot would have a similar impact on the adjacent development when compared to the proposed building.”

The building’s design has been made to allow for more distance between the two properties than required, the letter said.


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