Born Again: Silver Spring

Silver Spring is a national model for reviving an aging suburb. The urban-suburban combination is hard to beat.

By: Drew Bratcher

Who lives here: Singles and twentysomething couples, many who work at Discovery Channel headquarters. Young families and older residents fill the surrounding neighborhoods.

Homefront: Trendy condos have popped up in renovated apartment and office buildings near the Metro. Downtown empties effortlessly into streets lined with Colonials, Cape Cods, and cottage-style houses.

What houses cost: At $370,000, the 2006 median price for Silver Spring (Zip 20910) sales was among the lowest in Montgomery County, but that’s deceiving. A six-bedroom Colonial in North Woodside subdivision recently sold for $875,000.

Local favorites: The synthetic-grass field downtown is a favorite of picnickers and Frisbee players. Caramel lattes go great with free wi-fi at Mayorga Coffee Factory.

Popular neighborhoods: Indian Spring includes the popular YMCA; Woodmore, Woodside, and Woodside Park are older areas shaded by mature trees.

What’s new: The Birchmere, Alexandria’s popular music club, will open a Silver Spring venue in 2010. Hook & Ladder Brewing Company opened in 2005.

Biggest draw: Entertainment variety packed into downtown. Residents can have a steak at Ray’s the Classics before walking to see an indie film at the AFI Silver Theatre, a play at Round House Theatre, or a performance at the Maryland Youth Ballet. Other night-out treats include curry at Mandalay, a Burmese restaurant; South American fare at Ceviche, a Latin-style lounge; and Elvis burgers at Jackie’s Restaurant, a kitschy, ’60s-style restaurant with shag carpets. Downtown is also home to Ann Taylor Loft, Pier 1, Whole Foods, Borders, and two gyms.

Drawback: On weekends, teenagers flow in via Metro and can overrun City Place Mall and the movie theaters.

Why it beats Clarendon: Downtown is more family-friendly. “If I were 21, I wouldn’t want to live here, but now that I’m in my thirties with kids, it’s great,” says Heather Satrom, who lived in Adams Morgan with her husband before they had children.

On the Web: Silver Spring Penguin blog (silverspringpenguin.com); Silver Spring Voice online news (silverspringvoice.com); Silver Spring Downtown (silverspringdowntown.com); Silver Spring Scene blog (silverspringscene.com).