Fenwick Station Gets Planning Board Approval

Image Courtesy of Nova-Habitat incorporated and Insight Property Group LLC

The development planned for the current main post office site in the Silver Spring Central Business District won approval from the Montgomery County Planning Board Thursday.

Leading the development of the site is Chevy Chase-based Nova-Habitat incorporated which has been joined by McLean-based Insight Property Group LLC to build what is being marketed as the Fenwick Station apartments.

Back in May 2010 the U.S. Postal Service issued an RFP through its brokerage firm to sell the site for redevelopment. The mail delivery company is finding ways to cut costs and move into profitability which includes selling properties. Nova-Habitat was one of about nine developers that submitted a formal proposal, after some negotiation the developer became the highest bidder and selected to purchase the site. “We submitted an offer and the deadline was June 2010, we were notified in August 2010 as being the winning bidder.” Said Edward P. Novak, Jr, President of Nova-Habitat incorporated.

Bounded by Spring Street to the north, Second Avenue to the east, Fenwick Lane to the south and the CSX/Metro rail lines to west, the Fenwick Station site is about two blocks from the Silver Spring Metro Station.

Nova-Habitat looked at several different uses before settling on the 100 percent residential project, including hotel, senior living and retail. The missing retail component is also the reason for the delayed contract signing according to Novak. The Postal Service considered leasing ground floor retail space at the development but the time frame for construction led to them finding a new retail site in downtown Silver Spring. The selection process has been narrowed down to four sites and the final choice will be made within the next several weeks

The developers of Fenwick Station are aiming for an environmentally sustainable LEED Silver Certification. The 6-story building will reach a top height of 60’feet and include 310 units with a mix of studios, one and two bedrooms. 39 of the 310 units will be Moderately Priced Dwelling Units. Two below-grade garage levels will hold 390 spaces. Pricing is expected to start in the $1,500 range.

“This is going to be a top quality project, even though we’re anticipating it to be a rental apartment project, we are designing it to a high quality standard so that if the market changes down the road it will be suitable to be changed into condominiums”

Planned long ago was a third avenue right-of-way that was never built, that  section along the rail lines will include a dry creek bed and temporary walking and biking trail until the Capital Crescent Trial is officially connected. The public use space surrounding the property is part of an effort to connect the project to the historic Woodside community across the street.

The development team is still in the process of finding external financing for the project which typically comes in the form of a private bank loan.

The planning board had few comments for the project which was recommended for approval with conditions including for example, the building height being measured from an elevation of 347.00 feet along Spring Street. The board also recommended the plans for Mandatory Approval.

Sarah Davidson Managing Director/Partner at Insight Property Group said Fenwick station is expected to break ground in the second quarter of 2012. 

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