By Claire Panak Tombes
A new apartment building is going up at 6400 America Boulevard, the site of a parking lot between the Safeway and the Family Dental Group building on East-West Highway in the Prince George’s Plaza Transit District.
Some tenants may occupy apartments there as soon as summer 2024, according to The Washington Post. The detailed site plan of the development includes 75 studio, 173 one-bedroom and 68 two-bedroom apartments, for a total of 316 units.
Three-quarters of those apartments will have rents under $2,500, initially, according to Perseus TDC, the D.C. area real estate investing and development company overseeing the project. This corresponds to the rental market in the city, where fewer than 5% of apartments rented for $2,500 or more in 2020, according to census data.
On Aug. 4, Mayor Robert Croslin, city staff and other local officials joined Perseus TDC at a groundbreaking ceremony for the apartment building, which will be called Residences at the Six.
Councilmember Ben Simasek (Ward 3) said that the new building “is a big opportunity to activate University Town Center, to improve the walkability of that area, and generally making it more attractive.”
Marketed as affordable, though market rate
On Aug. 4, the city tweeted that Perseus TDC “has also committed to designate at least 75% of the units as affordable to low- and middle-income households,” in accordance with a 2019 recommendation from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
The developer told the Hyattsville Life & Times that apartments will be available to all prospective residents, not only those who qualify with low or moderate income. In response to a question from Councilmember Rommel Sandino (Ward 5) at the council’s July 2021 meeting, Christopher Hatcher, an attorney for Perseus TDC, said that the project was “meant to be a fully market-rate community.”
Hatcher also noted that there is no city or county requirement to include affordable units.
This stands in contrast to Montgomery County and the District, which require that new developments include a certain number of affordable housing units set aside for qualifying low-income residents. Due to the region’s high median income, a family of four making less than $113,850 qualifies as a low-income household.
Affordable housing crisis in Hyattsville
In 2020, the Census Bureau estimated Hyattsville’s median family income at $86,847. That’s 69% of the median family income for the Washington metropolitan area, as calculated by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
According to Census Bureau data, in 2020, 48% of renting households in Hyattsville were cost-burdened, meaning tenants paid more than 30% of their income in rent. This represents a 20% increase from 2015 in the proportion of households that were cost-burdened.
According to the same federal survey, median rent in the city was $1,440 in 2020.
The percent of households in Hyattsville with an annual income of over $125,000 increased from 14% in 2013 to 23% in 2018. The city’s housing action agenda, released in April 2021, projects that 40% of renters will be in this income bracket by 2030.
The Six joins construction boom near mall
The Residences at the Six joins other recent transit district developments, including 3350 at Alterra, Mosaic at Metro, and The Edition. Monthly rents for a one-bedroom apartment at these developments start at $1,802, $1,810 and $1,999, respectively.
Apartment buildings to replace the parking lot by the old JCPenney, part of the parking garage next to the library, and the parking lot north of University Town Center are all proposed, as well. None currently have affordability requirements.
Retail and amenities
Nihar Shah, a partner at Perseus TDC, said that part of the 2,000 square foot retail space has been configured for possible kitchen use, though a retailer for this space has not yet been secured. Hatcher, the developer’s attorney, said in a November 2021 county planning board meeting that they had considered options including a coffee shop or dog groomer.
The new building will feature amenities including a pet spa, yoga studio and rooftop pool, and will be the first in the county to meet the Gold certification level of the National Green Building Standard.
The building will also be decorated with murals. Shah said, “We wanted to respect the arts community in Hyattsville and the Arts District by creating more murals on the interior and exterior of the building. Hyattsville has great murals downtown, and we wanted to contribute by commissioning work to local muralists.”