By: Jon Banister
Two years after knocking down a vacant 1950s downtown Silver Spring apartment building, The Tower Cos is preparing to deliver Phase 1 of the seven-phase, 3.8M SF development that will take its place.
The three-building apartment community dubbed The Pearl has just begun leasing its 284-unit Phase 1 and will welcome its first tenants in February.
Behind the 14-story portion of the complex, shown above, residents will enjoy a two-acre, private park area featuring an amphitheater, a 5k SF dog park, a 5k SF urban farm, a children's playground and fitness equipment.
The green space will eventually become the fourth phase of the development, which will be built in five to 10 years. Until then, The Pearl's residents get to enjoy the copious outdoor space as a perk of being first.
"We wanted to give people an interim use that allows them to sense what is really available here," Tower Cos COO Sri Velamati told Bisnow as he showed us around the project Wednesday afternoon.
In addition to the two-acre plaza, The Pearl's residents will also have a 30k SF outdoor courtyard. It's highlighted by a three-tiered fountain and a 30-person communal table underneath catenary lighting, reminiscent of Bethesda Row.
While many new apartment buildings stick with easier-to-manage turf for green space, Sri says Tower Cos will make part of the courtyard natural grass for authenticity.
"We wanted to at least have one place where you can take your shoes off and feel the grass," Sri said. "There’s something natural about that."
The outdoor amenities available to residents will not be limited to the ground level. The 7k SF rooftop terrace on The Pearl's eight-story component features a pool with shaded cabanas, grilling stations, kitchens and a bar lounge.
The rest of the building's amenities can be accessed from the lobby, above. The stairs lead to a two-story 3,500 SF fitness center with weights and machines on the first floor and a yoga studio on the second. Beneath that is the glass-enclosed, 600 SF flexible workspace with conference areas and individual work pods for rent.
The 1,300 SF e-lounge and entertainment kitchen on the first floor can be used by residents, but the owner also plans to bring in chefs to cook occasional meals and give cooking demonstrations. Some of the fresh produce the chefs will use will likely come from the urban farm behind the building.
The Pearl offers 73 different unit layouts with an average size of 866 SF. The kitchen above is in one of the smaller, one-bedroom units. One-bedrooms range in price from $1,900 to $2,500 (slightly more for the units with a den), two-bedrooms will rent for $2,800 to $3,600 and three-bedrooms from $3,500 to $4,600.
The master plan for the 27-acre The Blairs development, above, was approved by Montgomery County in 2014. At full build-out, the project will have 2,800 rental units, 200k SF of office, 125k SF of retail, a 200-key hotel and five acres of open space. A 2014 estimate put the total cost at $650M, but the developer says that will likely change over the course of the project's 20-year timeline.
Early next year, The Tower Cos will begin designing The Blair's Phase 2, a 224-unit apartment building that will be the second portion of The Pearl, expected to deliver by 2020. The third phase will have 260 units and the fourth, taking the site of The Pearl's park, will have 373 units. The Tower Cos partnered with architect Design Collective, landscape architect Sasaki Associates, interior designer R.D. Jones and general contractor Clark Construction.
The site sits a block from the Silver Spring Metro station and next to a future Purple Line station. Tower, run by the Abramson family, one of DC's premier real estate dynasties, has owned the site since it built apartment buildings on it in the '50s. More recently, a retail center with a Giant, CVS and several food spots opened up next door.
"Everything came up around us, and now it’s our turn to create the next phase," Sri said. "We want to create something open and inviting. The gravity of what we’re doing will make a big impact on what Silver Spring feels like."
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