Three decades later, however, if there is
a point of consensus among advocates
and opponents of the project, it is that
the Purple Line is unlikely to take a significant number of cars off the roads.
Today, the discussion has shifted from
relief of traffic congestion to community
and economic development, with leading advocates regularly employing adjectives such as “transformative” and “
game-changing” to describe its potential.
It’s easy to understand why Prince
George’s County, long regarded as the
dowdy sister of the Washington metropolitan area, embraces that argument.
County Executive Rushern Baker is
banking on the Purple Line to attract
development, boosting its tax revenues
as well as its image.
But while officials in Montgomery
County do see some development opportu-
nities—particularly in lower-income areas
east of Silver Spring—their attitude is less
bullish. “I don’t think anyone ever expected
this to be a support system for a lot of major
redevelopment,” Floreen says. Still, like sev-
eral other local public officials who started
out as opponents of the project—including
the last two county executives, incumbent
Ike Leggett and his predecessor, Doug-
las Duncan—Floreen now counts herself
among the supporters.
“I think that the major upside is that
it connects communities,” she says of
the project, citing what she calls “a new
recognition” that the Purple Line corridor is part of an increasingly urban area.
“You can’t dispute it,” she says, “as much
as some of the folks in Chevy Chase
would like to disagree.”
FROM HER 13TH floor office on
Connecticut Avenue, Miti Figueredo can
see the site of the future Chevy Chase
Lake stop on the Purple Line. It will be the
first station east of downtown Bethesda.
Figueredo is vice president for public
affairs at the Chevy Chase Land Co., the
Montgomery County developer that argu-ably has the most to gain from the development of the Purple Line.
Her company, which owns land on
both sides of Connecticut Avenue north of
East West Highway, intends to convert an
aging strip mall—now home to the Chevy
Chase Supermarket and several other
shops—into a mixed-use development
with about 600 units of multifamily hous-
ing, including a 120-foot high-rise apart-
ment building. Figueredo says the firm
plans to move ahead with the construc-
tion with or without the Purple Line, but
admits, “Of course, we think the Purple
Line will enhance the value of the project.”
A second phase of the project, contin-
gent on Purple Line construction being
underway, would involve redeveloping
another shopping center immediately
on the other side of Connecticut Avenue
into apartments or condos atop street-
She says Chevy Chase Land Co.
envisions its development primar-
ily as neighborhood-serving retail.
“This isn’t Bethesda or Silver Spring—
it isn’t intended to be,” Figueredo says.
“The goal is to provide more amenities
for residents who live here, and more
opportunity for new residents to live
at this location, hopefully near a future
transit stop.” Figueredo adds: “This isn’t
intended to be commuter rail.”
He says many people think of the Sil- P H O T O