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‘The Turf' Would Return As Part Of The Downtown Silver Spring Project — Other Features To Be Removed

MBS Staff

The dramatic update to the Downtown Silver Spring mixed-use project would include the installation of several new fixtures but it would also be the end of some long-time, recognizable features that have been woven into the community.

Long before the brick pavers that lead to the Civic Center entrance existed, an artificial turf was the material of choice in the open space and public gathering spot in downtown Silver Spring.

Unofficially called “The Turf”, the temporary patch of artificial grass was enjoyed by the public. When developers and Montgomery County decided to remove it, the announcement was met with public outcry as their beloved “Turf” would be gone.

Developers and the County Government won out to the dismay of many residents. Today the space is occupied by impervious surfaces, and an ice-skating rink that includes an elaborate canopy.

Fairfax-based Peterson Companies and Rockville-based Foulger-Pratt want to bring back some of what they took away by replacing much of Ellsworth Drive with artificial turf. The stretch of Ellsworth between Georgia Avenue and Fenton Street is often closed to vehicle access for most of the year (except for the recent need for carryout due to COVID-19 ) but would be abandoned by the County and no longer accessible to cars.

Downtown Silver Spring Update Peterson - Turf

Rendering of the new "Turf" in the Downtown Silver Spring project. Image: The Peterson Companies

Additional coming attractions

In addition to the artificial turf, developers have proposed several attractions that they hope will activate the space and speak to the demographic surrounding the shopping district. Proposed features include: a mobile stage, community chalkboard, kiddy horse rides, ping pong tables, porch swings and different types of public seating (table umbrellas included).

Downtown Silver Spring Update Peterson - Feature Mix

The Downtown Silver Spring Project would include new features including a tables, portable stage and chalkboard. Image: The Peterson Companies

Going away and being replaced

As previously reported, one of the biggest and most recognizable features in the downtown project is the Silver Plaza Fountain which would be replaced by a literal silver spring with a water jet feature.

Another big change would be the removal of the existing “Downtown Silver Spring” monument sign in front of the project and along Georgia Avenue. The gateway sign would be replaced by a large sculpture in the shape of a blooming flower called the Blumen Lumen II. It would also put on a light-show and be interactive.

Gone would be the illuminated elevator enclosure and the elaborate, colorful mosaic tiled stairway to be replaced with a standard monotone staircase and an inset elevator. The elevator would be hidden within the building that stands behind the current elevator system.

Downtown Silver Spring Update Peterson - 2 - flower - Blumen Lumen II

Blumen Lumen II would replace the "Downtown Silver Spring" gateway sign. Image: The Peterson Companies

Updates already underway

Developers have already started making some updates, including the large colorful murals that can be seen on the facade that encloses the Regal IMAX movie theater. According to plans submitted by the developers, the changes are in part due to the cost to maintain and upkeep the existing property

A presentation will happen in front of the Montgomery County Planning Board on June 18, 2020.