Friday, September 5, 2008

Planners Back Razing Rentals for Luxury Site - Washington Post

By Miranda S. Spivack
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 5, 2008; B03

Montgomery County's planning board yesterday voted to recommend a plan that paves the way for demolition of 182 moderately priced rental apartments near the Silver Spring Metro station, replacing them with a luxury high-rise and retail complex that will include some affordable units.

The County Council has the final say on the plan and is likely to vote on it this fall.

The proposal designates part of the Falklands apartments on East-West Highway as historic, limiting development in some sections. The complex was the first in Montgomery to have mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration. The buildings, low-rise garden apartments, are considered architecturally significant examples of the "garden city" movement.

The county's historic preservation commission had recommended designating all 500 units as historic. But the planning board yesterday chose a compromise that allows redevelopment on the north parcel but preserves other sections as historic.

The proposal had sparked a division within the planning agency but won support from some groups interested in preserving affordable housing.

The developer, New York-based Home Properties, agreed to replace some affordable units and offer current residents moderately priced rentals elsewhere in the county.

Royce Hanson, head of the planning board, said he was convinced that most of the historic architecture on the property can be preserved while still allowing some development.

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