Montgomery County on Wednesday condemned an eight-story office building in downtown Silver Spring and labeled it a “public nuisance” after it was left unoccupied and in a state of disrepair for at least a year.
The brown brick building at 850 Sligo Ave. was built in 1965 and is owned by 850 Sligo LLC, a holding company that state real estate records say is owned by Katie Dang, a member of the Tran Group. The company is reportedly an hotelier based in Baltimore, according to a 2009 Baltimore Sun report.
Attempts to contact Dang on Wednesday at the Tran Group offices at 110 St. Paul St., Baltimore, were not successful.
A county housing inspector wrote on a formal notice posted to the door of the Silver Spring building that it was condemned and unfit for human habitation due to a lack of utilities and multiple code violations. The inspector described it as a “public nuisance creating a visual blight.” The notice also says the building is vacant and must be repaired, removed or demolished. The property owner faces a daily $500 fine if the issues aren’t corrected by May 19, according to the notice.
According to Maryland real estate records, 850 Sligo LLC purchased the property in 2013 for $2.8 million.
The building is at the intersection of Fenton Street and Sligo Avenue—about two blocks from Georgia Avenue and close to popular restaurants such as Kaldi’s Social House and Pacci’s Neapolitan Pizzeria.
The building has broken windows, graffiti on the exterior and boarded-up entrances. Trash is strewn across the parking lot. On Thursday afternoon, a man could be seen sleeping on a piece of cardboard on a patch of grass next to the building.
Tre Nu, who lives across the street from the building, said his brother saw several police officers at the location earlier this week. He also said someone cleaned up the building about a year ago, but he hasn’t seen much activity there since—other than dumpsters being removed from the parking lot recently.
The vacant building “doesn’t bother me as long as it doesn’t cause any trouble,” Nu said. “Although, I don’t want it looking like that.”
Montgomery County police spokeswoman Lucille Bauer said police have responded to two incidents at the building this month. On April 6, someone was spotted drinking in public at the property. And on April 15, a man had climbed atop the building and was threatening to jump off it. Police were able to talk the man down and transport him to have his mental health evaluated, according to Bauer.
Karen Roper, who handles zoning and land use issues for the East Silver Spring Citizens Association, said she has spoken with developers who have tried to buy the property, but have told her the asking price was too high. She said some homeless individuals have been inside the property.
“Obviously it hasn’t been maintained,” Roper said. “That’s why people have been calling [the county] and complaining.”
The condemned notice at the building. All photos by Andrew Metcalf.