- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2000

The gamble Discovery Communications Inc. is taking by moving from Bethesda, Md., to Silver Spring, Md., will pay off, according to the officials who attended the groundbreaking for the media giant's new headquarters yesterday.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, a Democrat, said the new businesses that have already moved to Silver Spring a once-decaying suburb with about 33,000 residents are successful.
Since Discovery announced plans to move to the area two years ago, several businesses have opened, including a Baja Fresh Mexican Grill restaurant and a Fresh Fields Markets grocery store.
Mr. Duncan said all of the businesses have exceeded their expectations. He said he visited the Baja Fresh recently, but it "ran out of food" because of high demand.
Discovery Chairman and Chief Executive John S. Hendricks said he encountered skeptics when he announced in 1998 he would move his company from Bethesda.
"There were people who had doubts about what this area could be," he said.
Discovery, which manages several cable-television channels including its signature Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, will build a 320-foot tower on Georgia Avenue. Executives say they have run out of space in Bethesda, where Discovery leases space in several buildings.
The company is also completing the renovation of a former Caldor department store in Silver Spring, where it plans to house its Internet unit, Discovery.com.
It recently canceled plans to lease space in a third building in the area, saying it may not need the space.
Discovery is expected to employ between 1,800 and 2,000 workers in Silver Spring by the time its headquarters opens in 2002.
Montgomery County Council member Derick Berlage, Silver Spring Democrat, said the company reflects the national trend of businesses and residents returning to urban areas.
Pointing to a new housing development near the Discovery headquarters site, Mr. Berlage said, "The happiest person in the world is going to be the person who buys one of those town houses and gets a job at Discovery and shops across the street at Fresh Fields."
The relocation of Discovery and the opening of the other businesses is transforming Silver Spring, according to Delta Associates, an Alexandria real estate research firm that estimates the area's office-vacancy rate is 4.9 percent.
Discovery won't complete its move to Silver Spring for two years, but it has already attracted several other media companies, including the company that produces the Fox-TV show "America's Most Wanted," which moved in last month.
"Our goal is to make Silver Spring the center of content creation in the Information Age," said Judith A. McHale, Discovery's president and chief operating officer.


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