Townhomes Coming to West Hyattsville


The area around the West Hyattsville Metro station is getting a new development.

The city appears on track to approve a new mixed-use development on Ager Road that will include 183 townhomes, 300 apartments, 9,000 square feet of retail and a 4.5-acre community park with an amphitheater.

The property, located at 5620 Ager Road, has housed an abandoned warehouse for more than a decade, according to the Hyattsville Life & Times.

The development, called Riverfront at West Hyattsville Metro, is being managed by Hogan Companies and the Gilbane Development Co., a Rhode Island-based company that works on projects around the country.

The project seems in keeping with the broader trend in the greater Washington area of building up around Metro stations, and with the idea that the Green Line is the new Red Line.

The area around the Prince George’s Plaza Metro station has seen a number of high-end apartments in recent years; new projects have sprung up near the Fort Totten Metro station, while Petworth, Columbia Heights and U Street have long been hotspots.

The focus on townhomes and apartments also makes sense for a development this close to a Metro station, where walkability will be a major selling point.

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Tanglewood Makes Hyattsville Home

IMG_0751Another sign that Hyattsville is getting hipper: It now has Tanglewood Works, an upcycling store.

Also known as “creative reuse,” the idea behind upcycling is taking used goods that might be a little too young to qualify as antiques and turning them into something more valuable.  That might mean putting a distressed look on an old dresser or adding some artsy finish.

After a successful run as a pop-up store over the holidays, Tanglewood Works has decided to make its permanent home on the corner of Baltimore Avenue and Gallatin Street in the historic downtown, around the corner from Vigilante Coffee.

As noted in a profile in the Hyattsville Life & Times, the store got its start in 2014 at Community Forklift in Edmonston before moving to Hyattsville. (If you’re wondering, the salvage store is on Tanglewood Drive, hence the name.)

Owner Sue Older-Mondeel told the paper that she hopes to develop a regular calendar of events, such as furniture painting classes aimed at “DYI-ers” and people who “want to dabble and play and have a social gathering.”

Tanglewood Works won first place in the Washington City Paper’s 2016 reader’s poll for “best handmade home decor.”

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New Townhomes on Sale in Hyattsville

New townhomes at Editor's Park in Hyattsville.

New townhomes at Editor’s Park in Hyattsville.

Two new townhome developments are going on sale in the Hyattsville area.

Ryan Homes will soon begin selling four-level townhomes at Editor’s Park on East-West Highway near the Home Depot, while Stanley Martin will offer townhomes at Riverdale Park Station near the forthcoming Whole Foods.

The townhomes follow a trend started by the Arts District homes sold by EYA along Route 1, which sold out in 2014, though they take slightly different approaches.

Editor’s Park is more suburban feeling, an entirely residential area whose major selling point is that it’s within the crucial half-mile walking distance to the Prince George’s Metro station. The Mall at Prince George’s is across a busy four-lane highway bordered by a spacious parking lot, at least in its current iteration. Some commuters may stop by the Giant grocery store on the way home from work, but that’s about it.

Riverdale Park Station, by contrast, has more of an urban, walkable feel. Apart from the Whole Foods, which is more integrated into the community than Giant, the site plan includes space for restaurants, shops and a public “village green” that will be accessible. The townhomes will be a little more than a half-mile from the College Park Metro station (a future Purple Line stop), but the walk is entirely through leafy neighborhood streets.

Townhome projects like this make sense in both places, since they allow more people to walk to work, though both developments include first-floor garages. The future of Hyattsville is to become even more of a one-car kind of town.

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Prince George’s Real Estate Tops D.C. Metro

Prince George’s County is one of the best places to buy a home in the Washington area.

An analysis of real estate sales this year by the Washington Post found that the metro area is having one of its strongest years since the housing boom ended in 2008, with Prince George’s County showing the highest year-over-year growth in median sales price.

“Prince George’s County continues to be one of the more affordable places to buy a home even as its median price grew substantially to $260,000, which is up $21,000 from November 2015,” notes the Post.

That was a higher year-over-year growth than locales such as Falls Church, Alexandria and Fairfax. Some farther-away places in Virginia such as Manassas and Frederick County showed high year-over-year growth, but they are much longer commutes for people who work in D.C.

Hyattsville has also received positive notice for having affordable housing in an “urban-style destination with new housing options, shops, restaurants, cafes, a community center, walking trails and pocket parks.”

“Moving across the District line into Prince George’s County can make a big difference in the price of real estate, and so can the willingness to embrace living in less space,” notes a second story about a historic bungalow for sale for just $315,000.

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College Park’s New Hipster Spot

Photo of Milkboy in Philadephia from Flickr user karmacamilleeon

Photo of Milkboy in Philadephia from Flickr user karmacamilleeon

College Park is borrowing a little bit of hipness from Philadelphia.

Next year, MilkBoy+ArtHouse will open on Route 1 next to Ten Ren’s Tea Time. It will be a partnership between MilkBoy, a live music venue and restaurant from the City of Brotherly Love, and the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, according to the Diamondback:

The first floor of the building is planned as a cabaret-type space where people can eat, drink and watch a show, while the second floor will serve as a larger performance space. The venue aims to host performances or events three to five times a week, but that number may fluctuate based on the season.

The partnership is the latest sign that the University of Maryland is serious about its plans to turn College Park into a major college town, alongside a $115 million luxury hotel and scads of new student housing. MilkBoy is well-known in Philly, where the website Billy Penn described it as a place “where bright neon, loaded sandwiches and blaring music define the vibe.”

Construction is underway at the location, based on designs by MSR Design of Hyattsville and Morgan-Keller construction of Columbia, according to city documents. The venue has events scheduled as early as January.

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Prince George’s Mall Slated for Remodel

Photo by Flickr user Elvert Barnes

Photo by Flickr user Elvert Barnes

The Mall at Prince George’s is getting an upgrade.

The mall’s owners, a publicly traded real-estate investment group, have committed to a $30 million renovation, including new exteriors, entrances and storefronts. Work is expected to begin early next year and finish in 2018.

In a statement, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust CEO Joseph Coradino attributed the remodeling to recent high-end development in the area, which includes upscale apartmentstownhomes and the new Safeway at University Town Center.

“The property has just begun its transformation into an elevated, vibrant shopping and dining destination commensurate with the development that has occurred in the surrounding area which creates a significant opportunity to densify the property in the future, enhancing the experience between the mall and surrounding developments,” he said.

To put that in plain English: The mall’s owners are looking to upgrade it from the traditional 1980s-style shopping center with an ocean of parking into a more modern shopping center that ties into the surrounding area better. Also, fancier stores.

On that front, the mall has landed new tenants in ULTA, a fast-growing beauty store and salon chain that is known to drive significant foot traffic, and H&M, a trendy clothing store popular with millennials, along with Designer Shoe Warehouse.

The renovations should help complete a key part of the puzzle in the area around the Prince George’s Plaza Metro station, which has seen a lot of new development in recent years. The mall, which opened in 1959, was last renovated in 2001, when Target moved in.

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“Cheap Eats” Recognizes Route 1

Eat Shop EnjoyThree Hyattsville restaurants made the annual influential Washingtonian “Cheap Eats” list.

Cafe Azul-Caracas de Ayer, which serves authentic Venezuelan food; Spice 6, a Chipotle-style Indian restaurant; and Shagga Coffee & Restaurant, which serves Ethiopian food, all made the Washingtonian‘s list this year.

That’s something of an achievement considering that the magazine searches from a huge geographical area in Washington, Virginia and Maryland to compile its list.

The rankings seems to be an indication that the rest of the greater metro area is realizing that the Route 1 corridor has a lot to offer.

Earlier this year a Washington Post critic noted that a short drive up Route 1 in Beltsville is an international food hotspot with tasty Vietnamese, Kenyan, Guatemalan, Filipino, Peruvian, and Greek dining options.

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Bikesharing Comes to College Park

Photo courtesy of Zagster

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.

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Siphon Coffee at Vigilante

vigilante-coffee-siphonVigilante 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.

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Actually, Hyattsville is Into Urbanism

IMG_5493An 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 completedA 24-hour Safeway opened at University Town CenterUpscale apartments are being built near the Prince George’s Plaza MetroWhole Foods is coming to Riverdale Park.

College Park is building a huge hotel not to mention urban-style student housing and apartmentsTownhomes are being built next to the Greenbelt Metro stationAnd more development may come to the West Hyattsville Metro.

The greater Hyattsville area isn’t just into urbanism, it’s making it happen.

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