See the View From the Hotel at UMD

The Hyattsville Wire visited the Penthouse level of the new Hotel at the University of Maryland and there really isn’t anything else like it on Route 1.

The outdoor terrace has views to the south and west of College Park with a stunning panorama of campus, including the upcoming the Brendan Iribe Center, and a great overlook of the growing Route 1.

The top level of the $180 million hotel also has a glass-enclosed meeting space which opens onto the terrace.

At dusk, the terrace would be an incredible place to watch the sun set.

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Inside the New $180M Hotel in College Park

Hotel at the University of Maryland UMD Route 1

The new $180 million Hotel at the University of Maryland, which opened last week, is upping the standards for the area in more ways than one.

The Hotel at UMD is the first new high-end hotel in College Park since the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, which opened in 1963.

With its high-end rooms and amenities, the hotel will help give a good impression to campus visitors, especially Silicon Valley types visiting the new Iribe Center across the street. And it will be just a few stops from the new Purple Line when it begins service in a few years, being nearby the College Park Metro and the university’s Discovery District.

Aside from its everyday customers, the hotel will also draw visitors to College Park from out-of-town. The rooftop terrace, second-floor ballroom and other meeting spaces could turn into a lucrative side business, and managers say they already have more than a dozen weddings booked for next year.

And the hotel has already kicked the local dining scene up a notch, with Mike Franklin’s Old Maryland Grill and an outpost of the trendy Kapnos Taverna, which will hold a soft launch Monday, both located on the first floor.

The University of Maryland is trying to make College Park one of the best college towns in the country. The new hotel will take it several steps in that direction.

And more is on the way. Southern Management Corp., which developed the Hotel at the UMD, is also planning a more limited-service upscale hotel just up Route One at the intersection with Berwyn Road. And a 120-room Hyatt House Hotel is slated for Riverdale Park Station.


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Kapnos Taverna Opens Monday in College Park

Kapnos Taverna College Park Greek restaurant University Maryland Hotel UMD

Photo courtesy of Kapnos Taverna

Kapnos Taverna will have a soft launch on Monday with doors opening at 5 p.m.

Mike Isabella’s Greek restaurant will open its newest location at the new Hotel at the University of Maryland with just dinner service. Lunch and brunch will follow in the first two weeks of October.

The Hyattsville Wire caught up with a representative of Kapnos to get more details.

The menu at the 143-seat restaurant will closely follow the Ballston location, with whole lamb shoulder and whole grilled branzino, stone baked flatbread and a mezze selection that includes crispy brussels sprouts with butternut squash, octopus Santorini and roasted pork shoulder with apple, mostarda and tahini.

More than half of the 120 bottles on the wine list represent Greece, with the remainder split between American and European wines. (If you’re looking for more local selections, Old Maryland Grill has a more regional focus.)

There will also be six beers on tap, including the just-released Mike Isabella Concepts Saison, made by D.C.-based 3 Stars Brewing Company. And as at other locations, the cocktail bar will feature hand-carved ice and a mix of classic cocktails and Kapnos inventions that feature Mediterranean spices, peppers and honey as infusions or garnishes.

The interior of the restaurant, which features rustic wood millwork and live plants and herbs throughout, was designed by Bethesda-based Streetsense, best known to Route 1 residents for its work on the Shoppes at Arts District Hyattsville.

Isabella was bullish on the location in a statement sent to the Hyattsville Wire.

“Being part of the hotel and having a presence on the University of Maryland campus is especially rewarding as everyone connected to the school has such a strong sense of pride,” he said. “Terp alumni are loyal fans for life.”

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Here’s What’s Coming to the Prince George’s Mall

The Mall at Prince George’s has been part of the greater Hyattsville community for over 58 years and it’s going through one of its biggest transformations yet.

While analysts predict that about a third of U.S. malls will close in the next few years, the shopping center is undergoing a $30 million renovation.

You may have noticed the new exterior which utilizes more earthy materials like stone and natural wood giving the mall more curb appeal. And you’ll continue seeing even more changes in the coming weeks.

The Hyattsville Wire recently obtained a schedule of the projected opening dates for the mall’s new tenants.

Here’s a quick look:

Apart from the clothing and beauty stores, Mezeh is an interesting addition to the local food scene. Launched four years ago in a D.C. suburb, it’s a fast-casual restaurant chain that aims to do for Mediterranean food what Chipotle did for Mexican.

The chain has a dozen locations in Maryland and Virginia.

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The WaterHole, a Mount Rainier Community

Mount Rainier Maryland WaterHole community juice bar organic raw vegan

The WaterHole isn’t just a juice bar, it’s a community.

Mount Rainier resident Lisa Harris opened the juice and smoothie bar just off Route 1 in 2015, two years after her father died of cancer, inspired by a desire to achieve her dreams and encourage more healthy living.

Everything on the menu is vegan and raw, with wheatgrass from a Maryland farm and organic coffee from D.C.’s own Zeke’s Coffee.

But a main attraction is the community that Harris helped build up by doing things like hosting regular events where public librarians read to area kids, bringing in area bands to play at night and hiring local artists to build furniture and decorate the interior.

True to form, the juice bar has an active Instagram account — with the name thewaterholecommunity — highlighting different drinks, its staff and some of its regulars.

Some Mount Rainier residents fear gentrification will change the town’s funky culture, with projects like the renovation of the historic Singer Building just down the street to feature apartments and a new cafe from a D.C. restaurateur. But the WaterHole shows the area’s sense of community remains strong.

When the Hyattsville Wire spoke with Harris recently, she was working on plans to expand next door.

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Riverdale Park’s Unusual White Fire Trucks

Riverdale Park fire trucks white MarylandAsk a kid to draw a fire truck, and they’ll draw a big red truck.

But since the Riverdale Park fire department was started in 1923, its trucks have been white on the top and black on the bottom with a gold stripe in between.

A history of the fire department says it’s a tradition that just stuck:

This is the way it was in the 1920’s in Riverdale and the that is the way things are today. With the fire service changing constantly, with new innovations and standards being set, it is refreshing to see in Riverdale that some traditions remain. From the original pictures of our rescue boat, motorcycle with side car and our very first pumper to our new ninety-five foot elevating platform, it is basically the same color scheme. Some things should and do remain the same.

The history notes that at one time, the Riverdale Heights fire department had a red truck and a pumper painted blue, so people would sometimes see red, white and blue trucks at the scene of a fire.

White fire trucks are more noticeable at night than red ones. In fact, psychological studies of visual perception found that lime green is the safest color for fire trucks. But most trucks these days come with reflective stripes that make the truck color less important.

Fire departments also tend to go with red since they tend to be leased, as one captain told the Washington Post a few years ago.

“At the end of the lease, when you turn them back in, it’s easier to sell a red and white truck, as opposed to white or green. People want the traditional red firetruck,” he said.

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Hidden Gem: Taqueria El Mexicano

Taqueria El Mexicano Hyattsville Mexican restaurants panaderiaYou’ve probably driven right past one of Hyattsville’s best taquerias without noticing.

Tucked into an unassuming shopping center on Riggs Road, Taqueria El Mexicano has few frills, but makes up for it with flavor.

The restaurant serves dishes from the Mexican state of Puebla, where owners Bernardo and Clara Vargas are from. One particular specialty is mole poblano, a thick smoky dish made with chocolate and chili peppers, among other ingredients.

Washingtonian magazine has repeatedly recognized Taqueria El Mexicano as one of its “Cheap Eats,” including in 20152016 and 2017. And it landed a breathless review in the Washington Post just last year.

Two doors down is Panadería El Mexicano, also run by the same couple, which features a wide array of pastries.

During a recent visit, the owners told the Hyattsville Wire that they are expanding to another plaza on Riggs Road.

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See the Plans for Apartments Behind the Mall

Belcrest Plaza Alterra apartments Hyattsville Mall at Prince George's

Illustration courtesy of Torti Gallas & Partners

Construction is underway on a new apartment complex behind the Mall at Prince George’s.

The building at 3420 Toledo Terrace is the latest project as part of a larger overhaul of the area.

When complete, it will join the nearby 3350 at Alterra and Post Park farther down the road, plus the upcoming The Edition at Kiplinger across East West Highway as more urban-style apartments in Hyattsville.

The four-story apartment building includes a five-level parking garage, three interior courtyards and 8,500-square-feet of space for amenities—typically things like a pool table or coffee bar for residents.

The project will greatly increase density in the area. The site, which previously was home to 35 walk-up apartments, will have 330 units and 1,500 square feet of retail space.

Like the other apartment projects, 3420 Toledo Terrace falls within the crucial half-mile from the Prince George’s Plaza Metro station, which means residents will consider it walkable to mass transit.

The project is being built by Old Town Construction for Percontee Inc., which bought the land in 1958 and developed the original Belcrest Plaza apartments in the early 1960’s.

When completed, there will be seven new buildings all together with 2,400 residential units and 500,000 square feet of office and retail space.

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UMD, College Park Make Pitch for Amazon’s HQ2

amazon@collegepark Amazon Prime student College Park

College Park will make its pitch for Amazon’s second headquarters.

The proposal is a longshot, as nearly every municipality in the country that even remotely meets the qualifications is putting in a bid.

But the proposal makes a strong case that the town meets Amazon’s criteria.

Population: Amazon wants a metropolitan area with more than a million people. That would include Washington, D.C., which is considered a strong contender since owner Jeff Bezos already has a home here.

Transit: Amazon is looking for good mass transit, low congestion and access to airports. College Park has a MARC commuter rail stop, a Metro station, the upcoming Purple Line, a small airport of its own and easy access to the area’s three regional airports.

Environment: Amazon wants a diverse area with an excellent college. The University of Maryland is the state’s flagship school and attracts a diverse student body. The under-construction Brendan Iribe Center shows the school’s potential.

“We hit the marks in every category–land availability, business friendly environment, labor force, logistics, cultural community fit and so much more,” said chief strategy officer Ken Ulman for the university.

The college will be pitching the Discovery District research park, which includes 2.7 million gross square feet of space and already counts as tenants the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration Center for Weather and Climate Prediction and the America Center for Physics, among others.

Amazon already has a pickup location in College Park, and Amazon-owned Whole Foods recently opened in nearby Riverdale Park.

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Row Homes Selling Well at Editor’s Park

Editor's Park The Edition apartments homes townhomes Hyattsville
The townhomes at Editor’s Park in Hyattsville are almost halfway sold.

A map at the row home development on East-West Highway near the Home Depot shows 54 have been sold already, about half the houses that will be available in the project.

The more spacious Matisse and Picasso models are almost sold out, with only a few left.

Built on the former site of Kiplinger Editors Press, Editor’s Park will also include The Edition, a 368,000-square-foot high-end apartment building, with 348 units and more than 8,800 square feet for a clubhouse, yoga studio and exercise room, among other amenities.

The entire project is within the crucial half-mile of the Metro station at Prince George’s Plaza, the rough distance that most people are willing to walk for transit.

Row homes have become increasingly popular on Route 1, as landlocked cities look to boost their density while homebuyers look for places near a Metro station and closer to D.C.

In addition to Editor’s Park, there’s Arts District Hyattsville, Riverdale Park Station and Greenbelt Station, plus the upcoming Riverfront at West Hyattsville Metro.

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