Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nonprofit elects downtown property manager to board - Gazette

Talk of the Town | Jason Tomassini | Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A nonprofit dedicated to providing programming for the upcoming civic building and Veteran's Plaza in Silver Spring elected the manager of Downtown Silver Spring and a local jazz star to its board of directors.

At its March 18 meeting, the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. elected Marcus Johnson of Silver Spring and Jennifer Nettles of Gaithersburg as members of the Board.

Nettles is the manager of Downtown Silver Spring for Ellsworth Drive property manager Peterson Cos. and serves as a board member of the Silver Spring Urban District Advisory Board and the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce. Johnson, a jazz pianist, is the founder, president and CEO of the Three Keys record label based in Silver Spring and has been involved in planning the annual Silver Spring Jazz Festival.

Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. was established in 2004 to provide community-based programming for the civic building site at the corner of Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street. The civic building is scheduled to be completed in March 2010 and the Veteran's Plaza is scheduled to open Nov. 11, which is Veteran's Day.

"It was thought that when the building design was completed there should be a community vehicle to enliven the new building," said Alan Bowser, president of the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. "… We want this building to be the living room of the community."

Bowser said Nettles and Johnson will help the organization through their business connections in the community and experience with planning events downtown. Both are partners in the Silver Spring Blues Festival, which will be held May 9 on Ellsworth Drive.

The group has been meeting with the community to gauge the type of events residents would like to see at the site and given a recent focus on the presence of youth downtown, offering events to people of all ages and ethnicities is a priority, Bowser said.

"The civic building and Veterans Plaza are in the location where the turf was located," Bowser said. "We want young people to be involved in the maximum extent possible."

The 42,000 square-foot civic building will be complemented by Veterans Plaza, which is nearly an acre of public-use space for outdoor events. The estimated cost for the civic building is $19.7 million.

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