Shopping Center Business

MAY 2015

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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194 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • MAY 2015 ever, are both a boon and a test for a redevelopment. Ellsworth Place posed a number of design and logistical challenges for ci design as we worked closely with the leasing team, ownership, and Montgom- ery County to create a design that would recreate the center even as it remained open to the public. One major test was the Art Deco-in- spired exterior, half of which is designated historic, and consists of solid walls, dat- ing the entire complex. Instead, ci design opted to make the exterior as attractive and active as possible, adding signage and opening the project as much as possible. New entrances on Ellsworth Drive and Colesville Road will have escalators lead- ing into all levels, feeding directly from the street into the anchors while also eas- ily accessing the specialty stores on the same floors. A pedestrian bridge links the center to a county-owned parking garage. Because the Hecht's wing is an historic landmark, each tenant on the street level was permitted signage, but not stores on the upper level. Plans for the exterior re- quired some negotiation with the county and its Historic Preservation Commission to create an exciting, inviting exterior that would maintain the existing architecture and avoid damaging the building. ci de- sign and the developer obtained variances that now will permit the installation of two Jumbotron screens, making the exterior active while giving passers-by notice of the retailers within. The design pays homage to, and inter- acts with, the surrounding area. Several of the street and upper levels are named for the surrounding streets to further con- nect the project to the community. One of the street levels, dubbed Ellsworth, has a grand entrance at the corner of Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street, with a large vid- eo screen and illuminated store signage creating visual interest. (Other entrances also are located at Fenton and Ellsworth.) Signs for individual stores are also are lo- cated above large windows and entrances at street level. Inside, shoppers will see an escalator that will take them from levels 1 through 5. Floor 3, the Colesville level, has street entrances on Colesville Road and Fenton Street. Level 4, is named for the pedes- trian bridge that connects the center to the parking garage. The top level is home to the top level Burlington Coat Factory and another junior anchor to be announced. The interior also required updating. A state-of-the-art urban center at its opening, City Place boasted green, pink and white marble floors, white columns and brass railings typical of the period. Escalators and elevators provided vertical transporta- tion. That Art Deco interior design will be replaced by a de rigueur industrial look with classic lines, woods and metal finishes that will keep this project con- temporary for years to come. Interactive directory stands will sport aged woods (complementing the wayfinding signage of the same material), aged black metal and steel finishes. Construction began in summer 2014. But it too has posed challenges, given that the center was built on bedrock, and re- mains open in an urban area. Because Montgomery County has a 1,265-vehicle parking facility across the street that is connected via a climate-controlled pedes- trian bridge to Ellsworth Place, the center does not own garages, which could have been used at least in part to store materials and construction in equipment. Instead, staging areas for equipment must be care- fully scheduled, and materials often are brought in by crane to upper levels after holes are punched into the facade. Another role for ci design was to help reinforce the structure for future, though long-planned, development. A 210,000-square-foot, nine-level office tow- er was included in the 1990s plan, and the necessary infrastructure was constructed 23 years ago. With a timeless, yet contemporary de- sign that will complement today's most- wanted retailers, a configuration that will work with and enhance Silver Spring's street life, and set the stage for an even more exciting future, Ellsworth Place is ready to take its rightful place among the community it created. SCB Jo hn Larsen is president of ci design. The center — formerly known as City Place Mall — as it was before redevelopment. Inside Ellsworth Place.

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