- The Washington Times - Friday, August 11, 2000

The redevelopment along Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, Md., doesn't have to stop at its border with the District of Columbia, according to a business group that wants the city to improve its end of the street.

A report released Thursday by DC Agenda calls on the city to clean up the portion of Georgia Avenue that stretches into Northwest and encourage developers to build apartments, offices and shops along the street.

The report was released at the opening of a small-business assistance center at 7408 Georgia Ave. NW, near the Silver Spring border.

"There is room for revitalization on both sides of the border," said John H. McKoy, executive vice president of DC Agenda, an arm of the Federal City Council, a business advocacy group.

Urban renewal along Georgia Avenue has been discussed since the 1968 D.C. riots left the street decaying. At least five reports on ways to revitalize the corridor have been published since 1982.

D.C. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis, a Democrat in Ward 4, where most of the revitalization would occur, is "wildly enthused" about the latest effort, saying the healthy economy and the success of the Silver Spring effort makes this plan for renewal realistic.

The redevelopment of downtown Silver Spring, an unincorporated area in southern Montgomery County, has attracted several retailers. Strosniders Hardware Stores opened an outlet there yesterday.

Discovery Communications Inc. also plans to move its headquarters from Bethesda, Md., to a $200 million complex it wants to build in Silver Spring.

Several other offices are being planned, and some older buildings, including the historic Silver Theater, are being renovated.

Montgomery County officials said the county and state have spent $167 million on the redevelopment project.

The District has pledged $111 million to spur revitalization on its end of Georgia Avenue, including the relocation of the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles to the corridor from Third and C streets NW.

The DC Agenda report recommends the District go further by creating a "gateway" area of offices and shops on Georgia Avenue at D.C.'s border with Silver Spring.

The city should also encourage developers to build town houses and apartments in the area between Juniper and Geranium streets, the report said. The group recommends a second business cluster in the area farther south between Geranium Street and Fern Place NW.

In a meeting with editors and reporters Wednesday at The Washington Times, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said housing on Georgia Avenue is important because workers at the new Silver Spring businesses will want to live in the District, especially young Discovery Communications employees who will likely want to live close to work and be in an urban environment.

Mrs. Jarvis said her constituents want a better mix of businesses on Georgia Avenue.

The DC Agenda report said there is an overabundance of nail salons and fast-food restaurants on the street and no bookstores, coffee shops or gift shops.

"There is community consensus that the business base must be diversified," Mrs. Jarvis said.

The DC Agenda report also urges the District to work with Montgomery County on the redevelopment of Georgia Avenue.

Both jurisdictions should increase their funding in the Gateway-Georgia Avenue Revitalization Corp., a primarily public agency with an annual budget of about $125,000 that pushes for urban renewal on both sides of the border.

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