By BEN SIMASEK — Almost anywhere you look in Hyattsville, you will see signs of the city’s recent development boom, with several new residential development projects underway or in the works.
Editor’s Park at Kiplinger, adjacent to The Mall at Prince Georges (MPG) and Prince George’s Plaza Metro Station off of East-West Highway, is nearly fully built. Many new residents have already moved into the 86 townhouses and 40 condominiums. A five-story multifamily building with 348 units is anticipated to be open to renters later this year.
Visible from Ager Road and the West Hyattsville Metro Station, the site of the future Riverfront at West Hyattsville is nearly prepared for construction to begin. This development will feature two phases: 183 townhouses built first, and, later, a multifamily apartment building, estimated to be completed in 2020.
Land has already been cleared for the planned Landy neighborhood, with preliminary plans submitted to the city council in February for 341 townhouses off of Belcrest Road, behind Northwestern High School.
This year, renovation will begin for the Metro II building within University Town Center (UTC). This adaptive reuse of the former office building is projected to add 311 new rental apartments, along with residential amenities and parking just a short distance from the movie theater, shops and restaurants of UTC and the Prince George’s Plaza Metro.
On May 7, a proposal for Hyatt View, eight new townhomes near the intersection of Oglethorpe and 44th Avenue, was presented to the city council. This plan is currently under review and is scheduled to come before the planning board on June 7.
On June 4, the city council voted against supporting a conceptual plan submitted by Werrlein Properties to construct 16 single-family homes and 67 townhomes on the site of the former Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) headquarters. This Magruder Pointe plot has engendered a significant amount of passionate discussion. Many neighbors have shared opinions both in favor of and opposed to the Werrlein plan at council meetings, on the SpeakUp, Hyattsville! online forum, and the HOPE in Hyattsville email listserv. The council rejected changing the Gateway Arts District Table of Uses to permit residential development in the lower parking lot area of Magruder Park, but did not preclude future re-development of the vacant WSSC site.
An additional major project is underway at Belcrest Plaza. When completed, the area behind MPG will feature 2,400 new apartment units and 500,000 square feet of office and retail space. This development abuts Hyattsville, but falls outside the municipal boundaries.
Altogether, the city government projects the approved developments within city limits will bring around 3,000 new residents to Hyattsville. This estimate does not include Belcrest Plaza, the Magruder Pointe or Hyatt View plans currently under review, or the Riverfront at West Hyattsville apartment building, for which plans are anticipated to be submitted later this year.
More families in and around Hyattsville means the school system will have to accommodate more students. Prince George’s County charges companies building in Hyattsville a $9,317 fee per unit to go toward improving schools in the county. The city council has the ability to lobby the county council and Board of Education to ensure sufficient resources are dedicated to local public schools.
Jim Chandler, assistant city administrator and director of Community and Economic Development, said he expects the residential growth will boost business for Hyattsville’s stores and restaurants and open additional commercial opportunity. “Retail follows rooftops,” Chandler said. Most of the city’s new growth is burgeoning near the city’s three unique commercial corridors and two metro stations. This fits with the city’s strategy of encouraging higher-density development near public transit routes, improving accessibility and walkability and mitigating traffic impacts.
Chandler recognizes that the local markets for owners and renters are linked to the increasingly expensive ones in Washington, D.C. “We are seeing this boom of development in large part because the private sector has recognized that there is unmet demand and Hyattsville’s proximity to D.C. and the quality of life that it offers is appealing to buyers,” he said. For several years, Hyattsville has been featured in Washingtonian Magazine as one of the hottest communities in the D.C. area, especially for those looking for their first home. The city’s aesthetic appeal, affordability, Metro accessibility, vibrant shopping and dining options, and diverse and welcoming community are consistently cited as attractive reasons to live in Hyattsville.
The new apartments, condos, and townhomes will diversify the kinds of housing available in Hyattsville, which largely consists of single family homes. The increase in supply is expected to help slow inflation in the local housing market. The city council is also pursuing policies to ensure Hyattsville remains an affordable community for new and long-time residents alike, including a possible tax credit for developers who build new inexpensive units, and subsidies for necessary renovations to existing affordable housing.
Detailed information on all proposed and ongoing development projects, as well as the development review process and how residents can share their perspectives can be found on the city’s website. Readers can also view the latest semi-annual economic development report.