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Silver Spring CBD

Silver Spring Streetscape Plan Technical Manual Project Description

The Silver Spring Streetscape Plan Technical Manual was drafted in April 1992 by the Montgomery County Planning Department. The document describes the overall concept for the Silver Spring Central Business District (CBD) streetscape system and is used for private and public development within the CBD. Silver Spring has evolved into a major urban center with a lively mix of shops, restaurants, offices, residential and civic uses. It remains a point of access between the District of Columbia and suburban Maryland via Metrorail, MARC Commuter Service, Georgia Avenue, 16th Street, Colesville Road, numerous bus lines and the planned Purple Line light rail. The Planning Department believes a successful streetscape binds the components of the center together into an attractive whole. When present, streetscape elements greatly contribute to the attractiveness, safety and legibility of the area. The goal is to revise the existing document with updated paving and planting details that reflect latest best practices; review the tree selections for streets in the CBD and make appropriate recommendations based on experience gained over the past 24 years.  In addition, the updated plan should coordinate with individual and specific departures from the Silver Spring Streetscape Plan that have been approved and installed at various sites in the Silver Spring CBD.


For more than a decade, planners have been envisioning downtown Silver Spring as an urban center that provides a hub of activity for the surrounding residential communities and beyond. The downtown has evolved into a lively mix of shops, restaurants, offices and civic uses that draws visitors throughout the down county area, especially on weekends.

Planners helped set the stage by drafting community plans that, once adopted by the County Council, allows mixed uses, creates active streetscapes connected to the Silver Spring Metro station, and a comprehensive system of open spaces to invite visitors. The Planning Board-approved site plan for the 22.5-acre parcel owned by the Peterson Companies reinvigorated Ellsworth Drive, creating a center of economic activity between the Discovery Channel headquarters and the Silver Spring Civic Building.

Silver Spring Central Business District Plan

The Silver Spring CBD Sector Plan, approved in 2000, envisions an active downtown serving both the surrounding residential communities and a broader regional market. The plan is organized around six major themes:

  1. Transit-oriented Downtown
  2. Commercial Downtown
  3. Residential Downtown
  4. Civic Downtown
  5. Green Downtown
  6. Pedestrian-friendly Downtown

Major recommendations

  • Encourage appropriate development consistent with the State’s Smart Growth Policy.
  • Focus the higher densities near the Core of the downtown.
  • Encourage redevelopment consistent with the approved Urban Renewal Plan for Silver Spring.
  • Use zoning initiatives such as overlay zones to encourage redevelopment in three revitalization areas outside the Core and to encourage new housing development.
  • Provide a balanced transportation system and maximize Silver Spring’s role as a transit hub.
  • Provide civic facilities that will help to make the downtown a center of community civic and cultural life

View the Silver Spring-area plans:

Silver Spring Central Business District Sector Plan
East Silver Spring Master Plan
North and West Silver Spring Master Plan
Silver Spring Green Space Guidelines
Long Branch
Takoma Park Master Plan
Takoma Langley Crossroads Sector Plan