Northgate Plaza Shopping Center
Northgate Plaza is located in a large triangular tract defined by Connecticut Avenue, Georgia Avenue, and Aspen Hill Road. The shopping center occupies the south side of this tract, and the northern end is the site of the SunTrust Building.
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Northgate Plaza is managed by the Lee Development Group (301-585-7000).
Last updated 2011 April 22. Previous update was 2008 April 30.
See also Aspen Hill History for context.
Land Ownership History
September 28, 1885, William Grady transferred the land to Annie M Gill by deed at Liber EBP 36, folio 83.
June 3rd, 1948, at Liber CKW 1184, folio 503, Silver Spring Commercial Properties, Inc., transfers that property to Silver Spring Properties, Inc, excepting by reference to Liber JA 9, folio 186, of February 3 1888, transferred from Annie M Gill and husband (James P Gill) to John Rannie.
Construction and Layout
In 1963 there were several "anchor tenants". The first phase of the shopping center was built in 1958; primarily these tenants were Drug Fair, at the present-day site of Rite Aid; and an A&P Grocery at the site of the present-day Micheal's Arts and Crafts. There was also a family-owned hardware store, and a branch of the Citizen's Bank of Maryland.
1968 saw the construction of another wing. One tenant was the W.T. Grant's department store at the site of the present day SuperFresh Food grocery store. Vitro Labs had an administrative office located in the basement of the Grant's store. Due to the location beneath the Grant's store, that facility became known as "Grant's Tomb".
The site layout at the time was more open than at present, with Grant's and Vitro as a standalone building, and with the others all in one long set off to one side.
In 1977, new construction joined the two legs of the shopping center into something very much approximating the modern layout.
In 1985, the final phase of construction build the little island of storefronts located near Georgia Avenue between the corner gas station and the drug store (source: personal communication from a representative of Lee Development Group, 2008 June 3).
Vitro Labs was a defense contractor, and during the height of the Cold War, foreign intelligence operations were deeply interested in Vitro's work and products. Famed defector Vasiliy Mitrokhin's equally famous archive of KGB operational secrets revealed that Northgate Plaza Shopping Center was one of their favorite places to meet. The Mitrokhin Archive specifies that the preferred place to meet was at the entrance to the grocery store, an extremely busy store at that time. That exact spot in the modern day is a walkway adjacent to the Aspen Hill Wine and Beer.