By COLLEEN D. CURRAN — Town Center Realty & Associates Inc., a small, boutique brokerage out of Greenbelt, is expanding into Hyattsville with a new office to open this spring.
“We value the local proprietor — the middle-of-town gas station, the barber, the little five-and-dime shop,” said Richard Cantwell, broker at TCR. “We think we’re going to be able to serve this neighborhood very well.”
TCR has continuously operated out of Greenbelt since 2008, but Cantwell called Hyattsville “a natural fit” for their new business expansion.
Interior design, landscaping and staging are “part of what we bring as a brokerage to help people get top dollar for their property,” Cantwell said. “We’ve seen too often the big brokerages putting a sign in the yard and hoping for the phone to ring. We’re a lot more proactive. We make suggestions. We help folks get their house ready to get the best in the market.”
Cantwell works with about eight realtors, including agent Frances Fendlay, who he characterized as “steeped in design,” emphasizing her role in re-imagining the interior of their new Hamilton Street location.
Fendlay saved the original interior trim, pocket doors and ornate railings. She painted the existing wood walls, decorated with new furniture and added recessed lighting.
“We tried to add things without taking away from the character,” Fendlay said. In addition to the historic Hyattsville maps that line the walls, TCR plans to display pieces created by local artists throughout the space.
The realty firm will join the more than 500 licensed businesses that have opened in Hyattsville since 2005, not including those located in the Prince George’s County mall, according to Stuart Eisenberg, Hyattsville Community Development Corp. executive director.
“There has been a focus on bringing people who live in Hyattsville into the marketplace,” Eisenberg said. “This movement of locally vesting small business owners who have skills and understand the marketplace and have a social network is critical to a longer term, sustainable recovery in our economic life.”
The Route 1 area has seen an increase in residential and retail occupancy since the early 2000s, Eisenberg said. “We are trying to create a desirable place to live that has a sustainable economy.”
Cantwell and Fendlay are from Prince George’s County and have ties to Hyattsville. Cantwell worked at Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store while attending the University of Maryland.
“I think that Franklins really paved the way for a lot of the business in the area,” said Cantwell in what he called the “cultural renaissance of Hyattsville.” Franklins opened as a general store and deli in 1992. The now restaurant, brewery and toy store combination anchors a popular downtown lined with small businesses including Vigilante Coffee, Sangfroid Distilling, Streetcar 82 Brewing Co. and Maryland Meadworks.
Fendlay used to drive her son to DeMatha Catholic High School and remembered the area as being “unloved.”
“It kind of faded away a little bit,” she said. “So, when this new wave came in and the Arts District started, it changed everything and it just became alive.”
The Prince George’s County Gateway Arts and Entertainment District was founded in 2001 and includes the municipalities of Mount Rainier, North Brentwood, Brentwood and Hyattsville that line Route 1.
TRC plans to open its new doors at 4313 Hamilton St. on April 1.