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Development in Hyattsville: University Town Center

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Posted on: September 10, 2011

BY KAREN J. RILEY — Portions of financially strapped University Town Center were recently forced into foreclosure, raising questions about the future of the mixed-use Hyattsville complex.
On August 10, six UTC parcels were sold at auction to the banker, Wells Fargo, for $25.1 million, according to The Washington Post. The parcels included two residential buildings, a vacant lot, and the buildings that currently house Qdoba, Five Guys Burgers and Fries and the Carolina Kitchen Bar & Grill.

University Town Center Giffords SoupMan
Among the casualties at the cash-strapped UTC are Gifford’s ice-cream shop and SoupMan. Photo courtesy Susie Currie (2011).

On August 16, UTC’s oldest building, Metro I, was sold to CWCapital for $16 million, according to the Washington Business Journal. Erected in 1963, the 288,955 square-foot building is 63 percent leased to Prince George’s Community College and other tenants. Significantly, many of the tenants are viable businesses, offering a reliable payment stream for their new owners.
The 56-acre University Town Center is located along East-West Highway and near the Mall at Prince George’s. Originally developed 50 years ago by the owner, Herschel Blumberg, it was designed by world-renowned architect Edward Durrell Stone, who also designed the Kennedy Center. The original phase of the development included four commercial office buildings with 1.4 million square feet of space (including Metro 1) and 3,500 surface parking spaces.
Late in the last decade, Blumberg launched an ambitious new phase to the development that was hailed as a sign of hope for Prince George’s County. UTC added the 14-screen Regal Royale 14 Theatre, retail shops and restaurants, up to 1,500 residential units and a 910-bed new student housing facility.
But the recession and financial meltdown of the past few years have not been good for UTC. Housing did not sell. Restaurants shut down and a planned “lifestyle Safeway” was never developed, leaving tenants and residents alike wondering what the next chapter holds.
 

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