Jim Chandler leaves Hyattsville to work for Prince George’s County
BY DAN BEHREND
Jim Chandler, a recognizable and long-serving member of the City of Hyattsville staff, recently left to start a new job with Prince George’s County.
Chandler worked with the city for 16 years. Prior to his departure, Chandler served as Hyattsville’s assistant city administrator and director of Community and Economic Development.
In mid-May, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced Chandler’s hiring as the county’s newest assistant deputy chief administrative officer for economic development.
Chandler began his new position on May 8.
In a social media post announcing the hiring, Alsobrooks wrote, “Mr. Chandler joins the County with extensive experience in development financing, community planning, as well as project and program management.” She added, “He will play a critical role in helping us deliver on our Blue Line Corridor Project.”
In his new role, Chandler will oversee the county’s real estate portfolio. As Alsobrooks mentioned in her announcement, he will be heavily involved in the county’s work on the Blue Line Corridor, an initiative to spur economic growth through strategic investments in the areas around four Metro stations along the Blue and Silver Lines and Central Avenue, from Capitol Heights to Downtown Largo.
As part of that initiative, Chandler will be working on the five signature projects for the Blue Line Corridor: a public plaza in front of the county’s Wayne K. Curry Administration Building; an amphitheater; a market hall (a concept similar to Union Market in D.C.); a youth sports fieldhouse; and a library and cultural center.
While much of Chandler’s work will be focused on the Blue Line Corridor, there may be times when Hyattsville residents see him in his new role through the county’s work around the West Hyattsville and Hyattsville Crossing Metro stations.
Chandler said that the decision to take a new job after many years of service and investing so much time in the city was very difficult: “When so many projects that have taken years are either under construction or they’re finishing up, you certainly want to be there to celebrate.”
However, he noted that in a place like Hyattsville, which is constantly evolving, there will never be a perfect time when all of the city’s work is finished. “Hyattsville is in a really good position both in terms of realizing success but also understanding that there are ample opportunities for more projects and programs. It is pretty awesome to realize that,” he said. “The reality is, trying to figure out when would be a right time to step away is not obvious.”
He described how it took lots of negotiating and overcoming hurdles in the county process to complete an adaptive reuse project like the Art Works Now building, where a building has character, “a story” and “good bones” — but is imperfect for the business’s new use. “Trying to strike that balance between that preservation piece and understanding that you have building codes that have to be met and operational and programming requirements in order for these entities to be successful [was a challenge],” said Chandler.
Regarding relocating Pyramid Atlantic from its previous Montgomery County site, Chandler said, “Them coming over and wanting to be a part of Hyattsville, it stuck with me, and it was certainly one of those milestones for the community.” He described how that project had many champions, involved fortuitous, right-time-right-place conversations, and ultimately resulted in a cultural anchor for the Arts District.
Although Chandler found it difficult to leave the City of Hyattsville after so many years, he said he was certainly very happy about accepting the county’s offer.
In addition to the opportunity to work on the Blue Line Corridor — a key focus of the county’s economic and community development work — Chandler expressed excitement about joining a strong Prince George’s County team. “It’s a tremendous job. I get to work with a lot of people who are very competent in their fields of expertise,” he explained. “You get to learn a lot, but I also get to apply my knowledge to a whole bunch of exciting projects that I really think are going to highlight the best that Prince George’s County has to offer.”