Photo courtesy of Zagster
Bike-sharing has finally come to College Park, moving the greater Hyattsville area closer to a more comprehensive transportation system.
The University of Maryland and the city of College Park launched a bike-sharing program called mBike, using bicycles supplied and maintained by Zagster, a Massachussetts-based company that services a number of other college towns.
The 120 bikes are spread around 14 stations, including seven on campus and one at the Metro stop. Riders can sign up for $6 daily, monthly, six-month or $65 annual passes. Rides are free for the first hour and $3 an hour after that.
The idea of bike-sharing has been around since the 1960s, but it wasn’t until technology came along to prevent theft and vandalism in the late 1990s that it really took off. Capital Bikeshare has been in D.C. since 2010 and extends all the way to Takoma Park.
Because it uses a different company, mBike doesn’t link up to Capital Bikeshare, which is too bad because it means you can’t check out a bike and ride it to a neighboring city. For now, that’s not a huge deal, since the vast majority of users are making short trips anyway, and city officials said Zagster was cheaper.
Hyattsville has explored getting a state grant— as College Park did—to add bike-sharing stations, and Prince George’s County has looked into adding bike-sharing in Greenbelt and other places on Route 1.
But future bike-sharing along Route 1 will now face a choice between expanding College Park’s system or joining up with the larger Capital Bikeshare system.
Vigilante Coffee has upped the coffee game in the D.C. area once again.
The Hyattsville coffee shop serves siphon coffee—a brewing technique so old it’s new again and one that’s a treat to watch.
Siphon coffee makers look like something Bill Nye the Science Guy would use, with two glass chambers and a Bunsen burner-like flame at the bottom. The technique uses water vapor to force the hot water to defy gravity and a partial vacuum to bring it back down.
Coffee aficionados swear the technique helps the water maintain the perfect brewing temperature, but regardless of how fine your palate is, you’ll enjoy watching it brew. (Videos abound on YouTube of people making “vacuum coffee” or “siphon coffee” for this reason.)
A cup of siphon coffee at Vigilante costs about $6 and takes longer than most of your other coffee drinks. It’s not something you’ll want to get while rushing to work. But only one other coffee shop in the D.C. area offers siphon coffee, and it’s usually found only in high-end coffee shops in places like San Francisco and New York.
And in other news, Vigilante has posted a notice that it’s applied for a beer and wine license.
An article about urbanism in Prince George’s County has struck a nerve.
Dan Reed, a smart young urban planner who runs the Just Up the Pike blog about Montgomery County, argues in the Washingtonian that the county “just isn’t into urbanism” compared to other D.C. areas like Rockville and Tyson’s Corner.
Prince George’s leaders want to keep pace—there are plans for a town center next to the Prince George’s Plaza and New Carrollton Metro stations and for urban-style developments in Hyattsville and Greenbelt—but their constituents aren’t so sure.
A lot of these new developments, it turns out, look like the neighborhoods many Prince Georgians fled decades ago. Which may explain why some locals have resisted efforts to follow the lead of other inner-ring suburbs. In 2007, officials in Hyattsville pushed back on plans approved by the county to build 14-foot-wide townhouses. Invoking the suburbanite’s time-honored bugaboo, they argued that smaller homes would promote transience.
The piece is worth reading because it makes some often-overlooked points about why many African-American professionals moved to Prince George’s County in search of the midcentury suburban dream.
But Reed overstates the case when it comes to analyzing the area’s current trends. He has a point when he says there has been localized opposition to projects like the new Whole Foods in Riverdale Park or the proposed townhouses at the Bluebird Cab site.
At the same time, there’s always opposition to change. When I was a teenager, I used to key in surveys for my dad, who is an urban planner, and I remember marveling even then at the number of people who would argue that a bike path would lead to more crime and reduce home values. (They actually do the exact opposite.) And I’ve heard some interesting folk theories of urban planning as a city reporter in both Washington state and North Carolina.
But what matters is what happens in the end. Arts District Hyattsville was completed. A 24-hour Safeway opened at University Town Center. Upscale apartments are being built near the Prince George’s Plaza Metro. Whole Foods is coming to Riverdale Park.
College Park is building a huge hotel not to mention urban-style student housing and apartments. Townhomes are being built next to the Greenbelt Metro station. And more development may come to the West Hyattsville Metro.
The greater Hyattsville area isn’t just into urbanism, it’s making it happen.
Here’s something you might have walked past without realizing it.
The Hyattsville Wire spotted a mounting block on Pineway in University Park which is a set of stairs to get on and off a horse more easily and was typically used by young and old riders and women riding side saddle. Next to it is a post for tying up the horse.
We aren’t sure when this was built or if it was ever used for that purpose. It’s possible it was added later as an affectation.
Either way, it’s a reminder of the long-standing history of University Park and one of those things that makes the area quaint and charming.
University Park was incorporated in 1935 and much of the community is a national historic district and on the National Register of Historic Places.
Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store is well-known around Hyattsville, but the Washington Post recently listed its upstairs taproom among 11 of the D.C. area’s most underrated bars.
For his story, critic Fritz Hahn decided to revisit “highly enjoyable bars” that get overlooked “just because they’re no longer the shiniest, newest thing.”
For 14 years, Franklins has been the go-to place for fresh, local beer in Prince George’s County. It’s no longer the only brewpub in the county, but its beer remains the best. Regulars know the downtown Hyattsville restaurant has many faces: a toy store packed with goodies for all ages; a wine and beer shop; a family dining destination with pizzas and sandwiches. But the star is the copper-topped bar upstairs, which offers a view into Mike Roy’s brewhouse. Roy’s strong suits are IPAs and sour beers: The standout on my last trip was Sourhopnado, a well-made sour ale packed with resiny, citrusy hops. Get there between 4 and 6:30 p.m. for the daily happy hour, with $1 off all beers and discounted food, including a bowl of giant onion rings that might be too much for one person to finish.
Hopefully the piece will inspire more than a few D.C. residents to make the trip up to Franklins to see what the fuss is all about.
Photo courtesy of bit.ly/1rqptFg.
Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) recently announced H&M has signed a lease at the Mall at Prince Georges, which is scheduled to undergo a $25 million renovation to include new retail, restaurants and entertainment, according to an article in today’s Washington Business Journal.
Renovations to the mall will be done in phases and will start with a new 20,000 square-foot H&M slated to open this fall.
The new 24-hour Safeway grocery store opened up earlier this month at University Town Center in Hyattsville, giving residents yet another option.
The new 54,000-square-foot center is one of Safeway’s “lifestyle” stores and features a Starbucks coffee bar, a deli and a meats and seafood section, and even a pizza bar. Between the new Safeway and Whole Foods Market opening later this year at the new Riverdale Park Station, not to mention Yes! Organic Market and Giant.
The new grocery is part of a large, mixed-used project by commercial real estate developer Echo Realty, which recently announced MedStar Health and Town Center Wine & Spirits have signed leases to join its Gateway at UTC project. They join Safeway and other new retailers including Unleashed by Petco, Le’s Nails, and Phenix Salon Suites, according to Echo’s website.
Hyattsville has been named to another list for up-and-coming neighborhoods.
The Washingtonian selected the city as one of the “five hottest neighborhoods” in the Washington region, noting its diversity, affordable real estate and funky historic downtown.
Hyattsville’s quaint Cape Cods, bungalows, and Victorians finally have a vibrant main street to match. What used to be an uninviting strip of rundown commercial and industrial spaces along Route 1 has in the past decade been transformed into a shopping and dining district. Folks fed up with DC’s astronomical prices are taking note that in Hyattsville you can get a house with a yard for less than $300,000, have your pick of two Metro stops, and drive downtown in less than 20 minutes—some of the reasons why home prices jumped by more than 5 percent last year.
Other areas on the list: Mount Pleasant, Ballston, Trinidad and Shaw.
In recent years, Hyattsville has made a number of these lists, as the continuing redevelopment of Route 1 has kept attention on the area.
Construction at the new hotel in College Park hit a milestone Friday.
The Hotel at University of Maryland will hold a ceremonial “topping off” as construction reaches the top floor, reports the Washington Business Journal. The hotel had originally been slated for 13 floors but had to scale back to 10 due to the nearby airport.
The story has some more details about the 297-room $165 million hotel being built by Southern Management Corp.
Southern is going for a three- to four-diamond-level hotel, following the guidebook of AAA, which does the hospitality rankings. The property will have an indoor pool and fitness center and a full-service Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa in-house — Prince George’s County’s first.
The story notes that the university itself books 80,000 to 90,000 room-nights a year and the university chapel hosts 300 weddings a year.
Photo of wine glass by Flickr user @hlkljgk
College Park will soon get an independent wine bar-slash-coffeehouse from a longtime local business owner.
The as-yet-unnamed drink spot will be located at 7131 Baltimore Ave., currently home to College Park Auto Parts, according to the Washington Business Journal:
They plan to offer a menu of locally-sourced food including cheese and charcuterie, small plates, sandwiches and more. The pair want the space to serve as coffeehouse, craft beer and wine bar and arts venue, with arts events and music performances in the evenings.
The two-story restaurant comes from Tony Akaras, owner of Plato’s Diner, which is kitty-cornered from the location, and business partner Mona Patel.
It comes as the Route 1 corridor continues to develop, with a Whole Foods coming to Riverdale Park just south of there and new housing across the street for University of Maryland students.
The restaurant is scheduled to open in early 2016.