Montgomery Planning Board briefed on existing conditions of downtown Silver Spring and adjacent communities to help inform area’s future

February 19, 2021

Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan
Montgomery Planning staff presented data on what exists today in the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan area; sets the stage for the upcoming Visioning process with the community 

WHEATON, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), provided the Montgomery County Planning Board with an Existing Conditions Analysis of the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan (SSDACP) area during the Board’s virtual meeting. The “existing conditions” of a plan area are typically shared with the community and the Planning Board during the master planning process to provide the context and set the baseline for the Visioning phase that will begin in mid-March.

More than 20 years after the approval of the previous plan for the area, Montgomery Planning staff presented on what Silver Spring and the surrounding communities are like today. This included data on demographics, land use and zoning, housing, parks and the public realm, transportation, environment, economic development, school and community resources, and historic preservation. Some of the key findings are:

  • Race: Silver Spring has one of the most diverse populations in the County. However, over the last 20 years, the Black or African-American proportion of the population has decreased (47% to 39%) while the proportion of the white population has increased (30% to 40%).
  • Age: Downtown Silver Spring has a young population, with 46% of residents between 18 and 34, but far fewer between 5 and 18 (3%). 
  • Income: 35% of Downtown Silver Spring residents make less than $50,000 a year.
  • Housing Costs: Almost half of renters and one of five homeowners in the Plan Area are cost-burdened – spending more than 30% of their income on rent or housing costs. The median sales price in zip code 20910 has risen by over 140% since 2000.
  • Transit: In 2019, the Silver Spring Red Line Metro station was the busiest in Montgomery County. Downtown Silver Spring is also recognized by walkscore.com as having excellent transit with a score of 87, indicating that transit is convenient for most trips.
  • Environment: Using cutting edge technology, the team was able to measure that the trees in the plan area remove over 825 lbs of pollution from the air annually.

View the Planning Board presentation (PDF)

The presentation to the Planning Board follows a virtual event Montgomery Planning held in February to reach out to the community with this information. The event, called Silver Spring Today: Existing Conditions Analysis Presentation to the Community, had over 110 attendees. Community members can attend two more upcoming briefings to the Planning Board related to this plan:

  • February 25 – Consultant presentation on Office and Retail Market Existing Conditions Study
  • March 4 – Planning staff presentation of a Missing Middle Market Study conducted as part of the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan

Now that the existing conditions phase is complete, the next step of the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan is the Visioning phase.  This will include a series of interactive virtual events where the community will be invited to collaborate with the planning team on the future vision for the plan area. It is tentatively scheduled to start with virtual meetings in mid-March 2021. More details will be available soon at MontgomeryPlanning.org/silverspring.

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About the Plan

The 2000 Silver Spring Central Business District Sector Plan established a planning framework for downtown Silver Spring that envisioned a green, transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly downtown with a strong commercial and residential development market. In the 20 years since the adoption of the downtown Silver Spring sector plan, the area has transformed from an area in decline to a vibrant destination for offices, retail, restaurants and entertainment that is defined by its unique diversity. Montgomery Planning is updating the downtown Silver Spring sector plan to guide Silver Spring’s future growth.

Through the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan process, Montgomery Planning will analyze and reevaluate all aspects of the existing plan, consider the recommended changes implemented from the last plan, and assess future needs – all informed by community conversation and input.

Currently, Montgomery Planning anticipates a two- to three-year-long planning process, which began with approval of the plan Scope of Work in June 2020. Starting this plan during a global pandemic may impact the methods and timing of community engagement. However, we will extend the plan process timeline as needed to ensure thorough engagement of all who live and work in and around downtown Silver Spring. View the plan’s Scope of Work that the Planning Board approved in June 2020.