The Urban District of Silver Spring and the Attraction for Associations

When the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) was looking for a new space, the association wanted a footprint in the Washington, D.C. area that was metro accessible and affordable. Silver Spring quickly rose to the top of their list of possible new locations. “Silver Spring became a front runner to get to downtown D.C., the Hill and federal agencies,” noted Gwen Fitzgerald, IACLEA’s Director of Communications. The proximity to the nation’s capital was a must-have for the work they do as the leading authority for campus public safety. “When you have a Silver Spring address, people in DC know why you are here. You are here to liaise,” she adds.

IACLEA received a Montgomery MOVE grant, a program that helps businesses new to the county that are leasing up to 20,000 square feet of Class A or B office space. The grant helped IACLEA with numerous expenses associated with office set up. In addition to the financial assist, the folks that delivered the MOVE grant offered “a personal touch, literally a warm welcome conveying ‘we’re glad you’re here.’”

IACLEA joins other associations that are finding a home in Silver Spring. Mindy Saffer is Managing Principal with Cresa, leading the real estate group that works with associations and nonprofits. She notes that ‘Silver Spring is a relative bargain to D.C. And everyone wants urban now.”

The Gypsum Association moved from Hyattsville to Silver Spring in December 2017. If the word is unusual, Gypsum is considered a ‘miracle mineral’ for building material and construction and has been in use since the ancient Egyptian pyramids. “We chose the Silver Spring area because, as compared to Hyattsville, there are more options for office space of the sort we desire,” said CEO Steve Meima. “There are simply more office space options in Silver Spring that are comfortable and competitively priced as compared to other areas in the D.C. region.”

He adds that the urban Silver Spring district was attractive to his employees, with the abundance of restaurants and shops, metro access, and proximity to the Beltway. “Finding a comfortable office space and a well-managed building translates into employee satisfaction and better odds for employee retention and attraction.”

According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nonprofit business sector which includes associations, is on the rise in Montgomery County, increasing by 12.5% from 2011 to 2017. Employment has also grown for nonprofits by 3.3% over the last five years. Andrew Jones, Vice President of Leasing with Brookfield Property Partners, said his company continues to view the Silver Spring area as a growing, vibrant market. Owners of the Silver Spring Metro Plaza on Colesville Road since 2001, Brookfield is currently building apartments and retail along Georgia Avenue. He notes, “Silver Spring is becoming a 24/7 city, urban, a place where millennials want to be. And, it’s a much more affordable alternative to popular areas like Bethesda or Shaw or K Street.”

Associations in a variety of areas, notably in healthcare, have found a home in Silver Spring including the American Nurses Association with 60,000 SF on Georgia Avenue, the American College of Nurse- Midwifes, and ASPEN, the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.

Gypsum’s Steve Meima says, “Silver Spring is generally easy to get to and a gem when you’re here. We love the mix of historic and new. My staff members continually marvel at the number and types of restaurants and shopping options.” Brookfield’s Andrew Jones adds, “It’s an urban environment that doesn’t feel like a suburb. The purple line is coming. There are great ethnic restaurants mixed in with apartments and condos and retail. We believe in Silver Spring.”