The East Coast Greenway’s Route 1 Connections

Photo courtesy of Baltimore Heritage

A bike trail that will eventually run from Maine to Florida goes right through the Route 1 corridor on its way to Washington, D.C.

Organizers of the East Coast Greenway aim to connect 3,000 miles of walking and biking routes through 15 states and 450 communities.

Since its founding in 1991, the nonprofit East Coast Greenway Alliance has helped designate 900 miles of protected, off-road greenway. The gaps between bike trails are connected by a path of recommended roadways.

In Maryland, the East Coast Greenway stretches from Wilmington, Delaware, through Havre de Grace to Baltimore, south to Annapolis, then west through Bowie to Greenbelt and south on two paths to Washington, D.C. (You can see an interactive map here.)

The section along the Route 1 corridor starts at the Spellman Overpass, which crosses the Baltimore Washington Parkway into Greenbelt. From there it passes on Crescent Road to Cherrywood Lane, connecting to the Anacostia Tributary Trail System at Lake Artemesia.

The trail heads south, parallel to the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River, through Riverdale Park before splitting in South Hyattsville.

One route heads south along the river on the existing trails, crossing into D.C. on the 11th Street Bridge, which will soon be upgraded with a $60 million bridge-park billed as equivalent to New York’s High Line.

The other route heads west along the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia, past Magruder Park, into Mount Rainier on Arundel Road, hopscotching on city streets until it reaches the Metropolitan Branch Trail in Brookland.

More could be done locally to complete the greenway, particularly in Greenbelt and Mount Rainier, but for now it’s a solid segment of an ambitious project.

The East Coast Greenway Alliance even named the Anacostia trails one of its 15 favorite segments of the greenway, calling it a “pleasant, family-friendly ride along the river.”

“You will be amazed by the natural scenery and animals you may spot so close to D.C. along this stretch of trail,” the group wrote.

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New College Park Townhomes Now for Sale

Townhomes in a new development along the Route 1 corridor in College Park are now for sale.

Four homes at Metropolitan at College Park at 4701 Cherokee Street
are available now, with another five coming in August. In all, 45 homes will be built eventually.

The four-story, 2,500-square-foot homes just north of University Boulevard, which include a two-car garage and a rooftop terrace, are selling for around $500,000.

If you’re an employee of the city of College Park or the University of Maryland, you could qualify for up to $15,000 in forgivable loans to buy one of the row homes through the  University of Maryland and City of College Park’s City-University Partnership’s Homeownership Program.

The property was previously the site of a small, one-story commercial building facing Baltimore Avenue with woods in the rear.

Townhomes have become popular along the Route 1 corridor in recent years with developments such as Arts District HyattsvilleEditor’s Park, Riverdale Park StationGreenbelt Station and upcoming projects like Riverfront at West Hyattsville Metro.

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E-Bikes Coming to College Park This Fall

Photo courtesy of Tony Webster

College Park’s new bikeshare system will soon include 150 electric bikes, a major shift in how residents can get around town.

The city, the University of Maryland and nearby University Park have chosen VeoRide, a Chicago-based bikeshare company that specializes in college campuses, to replace the mBike system beginning this fall.

The new system will include 150 e-bikes, 75 regular bikes and 70 scooters. Instead of racks with locks, VeoRide uses geofencing to ensure that users leave their distinctive turquoise bikes and scooters within designated areas.

That’s designed to eliminate the problem caused by some recent scooter-sharing systems, where users have simply abandoned them around the city. The geofencing can also be adjusted, in case a particular drop-off area becomes a problem.

Users who don’t leave their bikes or scooters in the proper location will receive a notification on their phone. They can also be fined or lose the ability to use the system.

Regular bikes cost $1 to unlock and five cents a minute; e-bikes and scooters 15 cents a minute. You can also sign up for a regular bike membership at $100 a year which does not include e-bikes and scooters.

As we’ve noted previously, e-bikes have a lot of potential to turn intermittent bike users into regular bikers. It remains to be seen if scooters are the wave of the future or a late 2010s fad, but the geofencing could help.

VeoRide will have a soft launch at the beginning of August, starting officially by the end of the month or early September.

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Hyattsville’s WSSC Demolition Starts This Week

WSSC Hyattsville historic district building Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission

The Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission building in Hyattsville’s historic district will be demolished beginning this week.

Contractors with Werrlein Properties, which plans to build row homes and a handful of traditional single-family homes on the site, will begin pulling the building down piece by piece in the coming days.

In a recent email to neighbors, managing partner Jonathan Werrlein outlined a number of steps contractors will take to minimize the demolition on the area, from fencing to pest control to minimizing dust and runoff.

“We are aware that the removal of this building may cause consternation for the few residents that live near the site over the next couple of months,” he wrote.

The more significant impact to neighbors will be the loss of the 115,000-square-foot building, which was first built in 1939 and later expanded in 1953 and 1963.

“Built with buff-colored brick and decorative elements of Indiana limestone, the building was simple, yet, unique in its Art Deco-influenced ornamentation both for Hyattsville and the Washington area,” noted the Hyattsville Preservation Association.

But the building has sat empty for years, and while neighborhood opposition killed a previous effort to redevelop the property, no one had ever put forward a credible proposal to do anything with the building, such as a community center.

Residents have some concerns about the design of the new housing development, but in the end a plan always beats no plan. The fate of the WSSC building was sealed by decisions made years ago; it’s just coming to fruition now.

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Riverdale Park Station’s Apartments Underway

Courtesy of Calvin Cafritz Enterprises

Construction is underway at the Residences at Riverdale Park Station, a high-end apartment building that kicks off the next phase of the Route 1 development.

When complete in the spring of 2021, the $57 million project will include 229 apartments, 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and 8,000 square feet of amenity space, and the building will be attached to an existing 750-spot parking garage.

Located at 4650 Van Buren St., it will be on the western end of the Village Green, a square grass space in the middle of the development. Future apartment buildings will be on the eastern end, helping block some of the noise of trains running past.

The number of parking spots is unfortunate. Research shows that parking raises the cost of rent by 16%, reduce affordable housing and contribute to urban sprawl and greenhouse gas emissions. Some cities are even moving away from minimum parking standards to encourage the development of new car-less apartment buildings.

Given the surban nature of Riverdale Park Station, some parking was inevitable, but consider the transit options residents will have:

1) A mile bike ride up the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail, which is being extended in this project, to the College Park Metro and MARC stations. 2) A half-mile walk or bike ride to the Riverdale Park Town Center MARC station. 3) A half-mile walk or bike ride to the future Purple Line stop in the Discovery District. 4) A free shuttle to the College Park and Prince George’s Plaza Metro stops that runs from 6:30 to 9 a.m. and 4:30 to 7 p.m. 5) Capital Bikeshare and whatever bike-sharing system College Park selects.

At the same time, they’ll have everything from District Taco to Denizen’s brewery not to mention a Whole Foods Market within walking distance.

Overall, that’s a pretty nice option for an apartment in the greater D.C. area.

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Riverdale Park MARC Station Gets New Name

Riverdale Park has big hopes for its town center, and for good reason.

In recent months, the town has renovated a historic clock, spruced up a traffic signal box, installed artsy bike racks and renamed the MARC commuter train stop from “Riverdale” to “Riverdale Park Town Center.”

The last step might seem minor, but it involves convincing the Maryland Transit Administration to change a lot of maps, schedules and web pages. That usually takes a concerted effort and some political sway — as when the Metro system split the difference with its U Street/African-American Civil War Museum/Cardozo station.

“Change is in the air,” the town tweeted. “New artbox, renamed train station, renovated clock. It’s good times and good vibes only in [the Town of Riverdale Park].”

It’s not just the small things. The town center now has fast-casual Vietnamese restaurant Banana Blossom Bistro, Spanish-Mexican fusion Riviera Tapas, the expanded Town Center Market and a Bikram yoga studio. It’ll soon add a coffee shop too.

The location is great: Just a little off the busy Route 1 corridor, a short bike ride on the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail from the row homes and soon-to-come apartments of Riverdale Park Station, and surrounded by historic homes.

And it has the aforementioned MARC station, one of only 12 on the Camden line between the Camden Yards baseball field in Baltimore and Union Station in D.C.

The new station name should help market the area to the 4,600 commuters who pass by, but the MARC system will benefit too if more people live nearby and start taking the train. Studies show that for each rider using a parking space at a park-and-ride transit station, four more riders would use it if that space were instead part of a transit-oriented development.

That’s probably not going to happen around Riverdale Park’s MARC station, but it is happening the next stop up at College Park. And if the town added a bike rental station along the Trolley Trail, a few of the residents of Riverdale Park Station might take the train too.

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Barrel-Aged Gin Now at Hyattsville’s Sangfroid

Photo courtesy of Sangfroid Distilling

Sangfroid Distilling is currently selling barrel-aged gin, bringing one of the hottest new offerings in craft spirits to Maryland.

While spirits like whiskey are typically aged to bring out their flavors, gin relies on botanicals added during the distilling process.

That’s been helpful for Sangfroid, which opened in December and won’t have whiskey or apple brandies to sell until later this year but has been selling its Dutch-style gin from the start.

The barrel-aged gin splits the difference. After being produced from grain to bottle in their facility, they put the gin in a charred oak barrel through the winter, a much shorter time than most aged spirits.

“The result is something similar to a whiskey, with deep notes of sweet caramel and a hint of juniper and coriander on the nose,” co-owners Nate Groenendyk and Jeff Harner noted recently.

Barrel-aged gin has become quite popular among craft distillers, who often experiment with older styles of production. (Barrel-aging was more common with genever, the Dutch-style that Sangfroid uses.) Bartenders recommend trying it straight or using it to make a Manhattan or an Old-Fashioned.

The barrel-aged gin is a limited release, and Groenendyk said they are already experimenting with locally grown mulberries to see if they can produce a mulberry brandy.

Located at 5130 Baltimore Ave., Sangfroid is open for tours and visits to its tasting room from 1 to 5 p.m. on weekends.

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You Can Now Taste Christian Heurich’s Beer

Image courtesy of the Heurich House Museum

In the early 1900s, Christian Heurich’s beer was so popular that it made him the largest employer in D.C. outside of the federal government for a while.

But until recently, you couldn’t taste it.

A 1938 fire burned up much of the brewery’s archives, Heurich died in 1945 and was buried near his Hyattsville dairy farm, and the brewery closed in 1956. The taste of some of the D.C. area’s most famous beers was lost to history–until now.

That is, until a D.C. homebrewer and historian named Pete Jones found a file in the National Archives which contained a letter from Christian Heurich, Jr., asking for an increase in Korean War-era tin rations.

As WAMU reports, Jones shared the file with the Heurich House Museum in Dupont Circle, and scientists from the Oregon State University’s Fermentation Science Department were able to use lab reports included with it to recreate Heurich’s flagship Senate beer.

Although Senate won awards in the early part of the 20th century, it would be a little out of place in today’s microbreweries, with lighter and more bitter lager flavor than is popular today.

But you can judge for yourself at the next event at the Heurich House Museum, which hopes to eventually offer it at nearby bars and restaurants as well.

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Why the Bladensburg Cross Survived a Challenge

A 40-foot cross in the middle of a Bladensburg intersection survived a court challenge Wednesday, with the majority of the Supreme Court ruling that its age was a reason to allow it to remain.

First erected in 1925 to honor local soldiers who died fighting in World War I, the Bladensburg Cross was challenged by local residents with the support of a group fighting for the separation of church and state.

But in a 7-2 decision supported by both conservative and liberal members of the court, Justice Samuel Alito argued that it can be hard to determine the meaning of memorials erected long ago.

“This relationship between the cross and the war may not have been the sole or dominant motivation for the design of the many war memorials that sprang up across the Nation, but that is all but impossible to determine today,” he wrote. “The passage of time means that testimony from the decisionmakers may not be available.”

He added that the the age of the monument also meant that removing it would “no longer appear neutral.”

“A government that roams the land, tearing down monuments with religious symbolism and scrubbing away any reference to the divine will strike many as aggressively hostile to religion,” he wrote.

In a dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg took issue with Alito’s claim, arguing that the meaning behind the cross was quite obvious from the start.

“At the dedication ceremony, the keynote speaker analogized the sacrifice of the honored soldiers to that of Jesus Christ, calling the Peace Cross ‘symbolic of Calvary,’ where Jesus was crucified,” she wrote. “Local reporters variously described the monument as ‘a mammoth cross, a likeness of the Cross of Calvary, as described in the Bible,’ and ‘a huge sacrifice cross.’ The character of the monument has not changed with the passage of time.”

From a constitutional perspective, the decision in American Legion vs. American Humanist Association is unlikely to be a game-changer, since it does not establish a new framework for deciding these kinds of cases, which justices often find tricky.

But it shows a trend away from previous interpretations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, known as the “Lemon test.”

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Four Route 1 Eateries Make ‘Best Casual’ List

Four restaurants along the Route 1 corridor made a list of “best casual” eateries, once again showing how the area has become a foodie haven.

In a wide-ranging list of the 25 best mom-and-pop restaurants in the greater D.C. area — critic Tim Carman asks that you not call them “cheap eats” — the Washington Post listed four local favorites:

Chez Dior: The Senegalese restaurant at 5124 Baltimore Ave. in Hyattsville was praised as the area’s “best West African restaurant,” with dishes such as yassa chicken, chargrilled drumsticks with a lemon-scented onion sauce.

Taqueria Habanero: The College Park outpost of the D.C. restaurant at 8145 Baltimore Ave., Suite A & B, was praised for tableside guacamole, ceviches and molcajete mixto, “a family-style dish that will turn heads from across the dining room.”

Northwest Chinese: The popular College Park restaurant at 7313 Baltimore Ave. gets props for its “full-throated interpretations of Xi’an and Liaoning dishes,” including appetizers such as black vinegar peanuts and spicy shredded potatoes.

Momo Yakitori: The Woodridge yakitori hangout at 2214 Rhode Island Ave., in D.C., was recognized for its grilled chicken as well as new vegetable dishes like binchotan-blackened corn served with tamari corn butter and, of course, the toasted marshmallows.

If you’re willing to drive a little, Carman also gave a shoutout to Pho 75 in Langley Park, a surprising entry given Northern Virginia’s dominance of Vietnamese cuisine.

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