Solaire 8200 Dixon apartment community, which received site plan approval in the spring, will be 270 feet tall and have 403 apartments, of which 15% will be set aside for affordable housing units.. (Courtesy Photo)

SILVER SPRING – A new building is slated to be erected at the site of the former Progress Place becoming the tallest building in Silver Spring and the first to feature a food hall and city market in Montgomery County.

Solaire 8200 Dixon apartment community, which received site plan approval in the spring, will be 270 feet tall, is 70 feet above the limit.

County councilmembers approved the additional height with the condition that the building contains a grocery store that would be open to the nearby community. The grocery store plan later transformed into a food hall.

Washington Property Company announced Nov. 12 that it contracted with Colicchio Consulting of Cushman and Wakefield for the combination food hall and city market. Colicchio Consulting specializes in specialty food and beverage consulting, according to Washington Property Company.

Reemberto Rodriguez, director of Silver Spring Regional Service Center, called the food hall “magical.”

Different from a mall food court, this food hall on the first floor of the 26-floor building is expected to have a mix of restaurants. It will be 15,000 square feet.

Some will go to grab a bite, others will sit and drink, and still others will frequent the food hall as a place to stand up and talk, Rodriguez said.

The fact that something like this is coming to Silver Spring “confirms the success we are having as a go-to place in the DMV,” he said.

Councilman Tom Hucker likened the food hall to Union Market DC, where people eat, shop, buy produce and meet friends.

“Food halls are not a trend or a fad,” said Phil Colicchio, founder of Colicchio Consulting. “Rather, they are an evolution in dining out, taking cues from the shared economy model.”

Above the food hall will be 403 apartments, of which 15% will be set aside for affordable housing units.

There also will be a rooftop fitness center, pool, sky lounge, clubroom and pet spa.

While it will be the tallest building in the area, the height “wasn’t controversial,” Hucker said.

The building will be located near other tall buildings and the railroad tracks used by Metro and CSX.

“It is literally there right by the side of the railroad tracks,” Rodriguez said.

The Solaire will be located a short walk from the Red and future Purple lines of the Metro as well as the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center, where buses travel throughout the county.

This will be the third Solaire building in the Ripley District of Silver Spring.

Washington Property Company predicted that the area would house 3,000 people and include more than 2 million square-feet of a mixed-use development within a few years.

The newest Solaire will be located on the former site of Progress Place, where Shepherd’s Table served the needy. That nonprofit, along with Interfaith Works and Mobile Med, currently operates out of a single building on Georgia Avenue, by the Silver Spring Fire Station.

Rodriguez said the Solaire is just one of many exciting things happening in the downtown area.

A $10 million overhaul to the Ellsworth Avenue area of Downtown Silver Spring recently was announced. One of its key features is the permanent closing of Ellsworth Avenue to vehicular traffic.

Also, the former District 3 police station on Sligo Avenue is being converted into a place where artists can live and work.

ArtSpace, which currently is under construction, is expected to include 30 artist studios amid an affordable housing development that will consist of 68 multifamily homes and 11 townhouses.

Also, Rodriguez pointed out, the bottom floor of the Silver Spring Library will soon be home to Arts on the Block, whose mission is to guide young people in creativity and community involvement. It will be located where the U.S. Post Office currently is located temporarily.

On Nov. 18, the county celebrated the groundbreaking at Elizabeth Square on Fenwick Lane. This multi-generational, mixed-income complex will include housing for seniors and an aquatic center as well as a central plaza for the community.

New restaurants also are opening in Silver Spring.

Rodriguez pointed to several, including El Sapo, a Cuban restaurant on Fenton Street run by the owners of Urban Butcher on Georgia Avenue. Rodriguez called it “proof of success” when a restaurant owner opens another eating establishment in the same area.

“The food scene is pretty darn good, and success breeds success,” he said, adding, “Silver Spring is really continuing to come into its own. I am pretty excited about everything Silver Spring.”

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