2021 Medium Community of the Year: Parkside Plaza Condominium Unit Owners’ Association

Parkside Plaza Condominium Unit Owners’ Association of Silver Spring, Maryland was named Community Association of the Year in the Medium Category. They are self-managed. This is the essay submitted with the community’s application.

By Warren Buckingham

Parkside Plaza is an 18-story condominium comprising 251 individual residences. Built in 1965 as luxury apartments, the property converted to condominiums in 1981. The bow-shaped building abuts the 15-mile Sligo Creek trail and arches toward downtown Silver Spring and the more distant National Mall. We enjoy 5.86 acres of grounds that include a meditation garden and swimming pool with expansive deck for al fresco gatherings and dining. Resting above the treetops of Sligo Creek Parkway, we are a hidden gem that has only gotten better with age.

Parkside has long placed an unconscious priority on “small h” health – the holistic vision of our mid-century treasure as a premier condominium community. Boards built discipline and commitment to maintaining healthy reserves, operating within a balanced budget, and respecting healthy tension between reasonable condominium fees and funding emergent needs. Dedicated engineering and housekeeping staff-maintained core infrastructure and common spaces essential to healthy community life. Front desk and management personnel supported healthy functioning of committees and quality of key amenities.

Life under Covid shook much that we take for granted. Fortunately, while going about the day-to-day business of keeping a “vertical village” healthy for 40 years, consecutive Boards and professional managers also ingrained resiliency, a vital resource in coping with Covid. As a result, Parkside’s formal and informal structures kicked dynamically but organically into play as Covid unfolded, keeping us safe, healthy, and strong.

An ad hoc team interviewed a cross-section of residents to inform this essay. Those commentaries confirmed that before and through the time of Covid,

  • Diversity of every kind is evident and treasured by our community.
  • Multi-generational families thrive here in separate residences because younger people wanted their aging parents close by, or young adults who were children at Parkside bought first homes where they grew up.
  • We are a poster property for the maxim of “location, location, location.” Downtown Silver Spring and Metro access are less than a mile away; the Purple Line will add a stop two blocks away. Good schools are a short walk away. Three major airports are under an hour away; travel times to downtown DC and Baltimore are roughly equal.
  • The building is large but individual residences connect intimately with nature through floor-to-ceiling windows and double sliding doors from living spaces onto expansive balconies.
  • Staff turnover is low, promoting great relations with residents.
  • Renters become buyers for all the above reasons.

A homeowner who has lived in the building since the early 1970s observed that many original residents came to the area to work on the “Great Society” initiatives of Medicare, Medicaid, and the War on Poverty. That commitment to a healthier and kinder nation has overtime inspired a parallel commitment to well-being and kindness at home. New generations continue this tradition by picking up groceries for older neighbors, Zooming-in to forge new connections, and sustaining a vibrant condominium community.