A Sneak Peek of Denizens Before It Opens

Photo courtesy of Denizens Brewing Co.

The new Denizens Brewing Co. in Riverdale Park Station will sell six-packs and growlers of beer at a to-go fridge by the door. The goal? To complement nearby Whole Foods, which is dry due to county regulations.

“The fact grocery stores can’t sell beer and wine here is annoying to me as a consumer, but as a business owner I am not going to complain,” chief brand officer Julie Verratti told Eater D.C. “You can walk out of Whole Foods, grab a six-pack, and go home.”

The 12,000-square-foot production facility and taproom opens Saturday, May 25, at Riverdale Park Station.

And it’s simply huge, able to produce four times as much beer as the brewery’s original Silver Spring location, with a 30-barrel brewhouse and 60-barrel fermenters, compared to 15 of each at the other location.

There is also room to grow, with plans to add more tanks until capping out at 15,000 barrels a year in a decade or so.

The menu, available here, includes appetizers like crispy brussel sprouts with pickled apple and blue cheese; main courses like steamed mussels and a pulled pork sandwich; and desserts like panna cotta made with spent grain.

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Bo Diddley’s Route 1 Recording Studio

The Route 1 corridor has played a role in the lives of famous musicians ranging from John Fahey to Duke Ellington. Two others to add to the list: Bo Diddley and Marvin Gaye.

Born in Mississippi, Diddley moved to Washington in 1959 and stayed through the mid 1960s. One of his homes was a modest bungalow at 2614 Rhode Island Ave. NE in Woodridge, just south of Mount Rainier.

There, he built a studio in the basement, where he recorded the classic album “Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger.” He also recorded D.C. girl group The Jewels and doo wop band The Marquees, which featured a young Marvin Gaye.

“It was not a big studio, but since we didn’t know anyone else who had a studio in their house, that was a big studio,” recalled Jewels’ singer Sandra Bears in a 2015 interview.

Diddley isn’t just one of the pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll; he’s also the progenitor of the “Bo Diddley beat” — a 3-2 rhythm with roots in West African drumming that can be heard on everything from his songs “Bo Diddley” and “Hey Bo Diddley” to those inspired by him, including Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” The Who’s “Magic Bus,” Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and U2’s “Desire.”

As with Ellington, the Route 1 corridor’s proximity to the landmark Howard Theater played a role.

“I just wanted to be in Washington, D.C., around the Howard Theater,” Diddley told the Washington Post in 2006. “I did everything from D.C. At that time, I was driving all the time — I didn’t start flying until 1968 — and it was close to New York and the South.”

Though his house on Rhode Island Avenue is not a registered landmark, Diddley’s time in D.C. is commemorated with an artsy call box in the Brookland neighborhood.

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A Big Change Is Coming to Route 1 Bikesharing

mBike Riverdale Park Station bike sharing Zagster
Photo courtesy of Len Carey

A popular bikesharing program in College Park and University Park is ending this summer, but its replacement will be even better.

The towns together with the University of Maryland prematurely ended their contract with Zagster, the Massachusetts-based company that ran the popular mBike program, after changes in its business model.

They are now looking for a new vendor — there’s no shortage of options — with the goal of shifting the program to include more dockless bikes, e-bikes and even some of those ubiquitous electric scooters.

“We will probably favor e-bikes with some pedal bikes, and go slowly on e-scooters,” University Park Mayor Len Carey told the Hyattsville Wire.

The change would be dramatic. Dockless bikes have their detractors, who complain about users who block sideways or leave them in inconvenient places. But as part of a system that includes plenty of racks around town, they can be helpful.

But the real shift is in e-bikes, which have proven vastly more popular than regular bikeshares. E-bikes come in different configurations, but the basic idea is a small motor that boosts the power of your pedaling. (To a point, that is. The speed is usually capped at 20 to 28 mph.)

For those who bike for exercise, that may seem like cheating. But it dramatically boosts how often users feel like biking while expanding the range that they can comfortably travel, an important consideration for commuters who don’t want to show up to work or class covered in sweat.

For many users, the choice isn’t between a regular bike and an e-bike, but between an e-bike and simply not biking. One recent survey of 1,800 e-bike owners in North America found that 55 percent rode daily or weekly before getting an e-bike; afterward, that number shot up to 91 percent.

With its leafy, spread-out campus, plenty of existing dock locations and students who are game to try new things, College Park is an ideal place to experiment with e-bikes.

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How Route 1’s Voting Age Is Ahead of the Curve

A growing number of municipalities are debating allowing 16-year-olds to vote, but along the Route 1 corridor the issue is already settled.

Of the four jurisdictions in the state of Maryland that allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections, three are on the Route 1 corridor: Hyattsville, Riverdale Park and Greenbelt.

(The other is nearby Takoma Park, while a little farther out, Kensington is debating it.)

Just as the Vietnam War helped spur a movement to allow 18-year-olds to vote in national elections, the debate over climate change seems to be playing a role in the current discussion, especially since so many well-known activists on the issue are young people.

It’s also an issue of fairness for many advocates. Sixteen-year-olds can drive, be tried as adults if they commit a crime and pay taxes.

The change appears to help spur civic engagement among a group that often has low turnout in local elections — a problem exacerbated by the fact that those 18-year-olds who can vote are often headed to college in another city.

Data from the first two local elections in Takoma Park after it lowered its voting age to 16 in 2013 showed that turnout was quadruple the average among all voters.

Berkeley, Calif., allows 16-year-olds to vote in local school elections, although an effort to allow them to vote in all elections failed in San Francisco. In 2018, Washington, D.C., considered allowing 16-year-olds to vote for president as well, but the effort failed.

Posted in Greenbelt, Hyattsville, Riverdale Park | Leave a comment

Meet Local Artists at Gateway Open Studio Tour

The 15th annual open studio tour for the Gateway Arts District will take place on Saturday, May 11 and feature more than 200 local artists at studios, galleries and art spaces along Route 1 corridor.

A mainstay of the local arts scene, the open studio tour has more than doubled the number of places to visit. Notable spots include Red Dirt Studio, Joe’s Movement Emporium, the Washington Glass School, Portico Gallery, D.C. Glass Works and Pyramid Atlantic.

The Washington Post recently highlighted the studio tour, arguing that the arts community stretching from Mount Rainier to Hyattsville “boasts enough independent galleries, offbeat vintage shops and restaurants to rival its D.C. brethren.”

The studio tour will conclude with an after-party from 5 to 10 p.m. at Studio 3807 and the Brentwood Arts Exchange next door, at 3807 and 3901 Rhode Island Ave. in Brentwood.

There, you’ll be able to sample food from the vendors at the upcoming Savor artisanal food hall at Studio 3807 and enjoy an interactive public art installation using light projection from a group of artists from Vienna, Austria, known as Tag Tool Crew/OMAi.

The public, interactive light display, called “ARTS’TINATION,” was curated by Rhonda Dallas and sponsored by the Prince George’s Arts & Humanities Council.

The studio tours will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can find a schedule and a map of participating locations on the official website or at Tanglewood Works, Pyramid Atlantic, Studio 3807 or the Brentwood Arts Exchange.

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See the Art for Riverdale Park’s Purple Line Stop

Courtesy of Mikyoung Kim

Riverdale Park’s upcoming Purple Line stop will include some dynamic public art.

The Maryland Department of Transportation has selected Boston artist Mikyoung Kim to build a series of interactive sculptures at the stop, which will be at the intersection of Riverdale Road and Kenilworth Avenue.

Taking advantage of the overhead rail line — the only point in Route 1 corridor communities that the transit system will be this high — Kim envisioned a grove of trees enhanced by vertical folded columns that double as seats at ground level.

“These stainless steel kinetic sculptures are triggered by engagement: when people sit in the folded seats, the columns will sway and reflect a play of colored lights above them,” she wrote in a project description. “The columns will stretch up into the overpass and taper off into a reflective cap, lit by LED lights, which will mimic light filtering through surrounding grove of trees.”

The public art is part of the agency’s broader effort to put public art at most of the Purple Line stops.

Mount Rainier artist Valerie Theberge, who you may know for her “Great Wave Off Anacostia” mural at the Melrose Skatepark in South Hyattsville, was also chosen to do a mural at the Beacon Heights station.

Posted in Mount Rainier, Riverdale Park | 1 Comment

Denizens Opens May 25 in Riverdale Park

Denizens Brewing Co. will open Saturday, May 25, at Riverdale Park Station.

The Silver Spring-based brewery will open a 12,000-square-foot production house and taproom across from Whole Foods as its second location.

“This new location will allow us to maintain and even improve upon our standards of quality at a much larger scale, which means putting pints of Denizens beer into more hands,” said co-founder Jeff Ramirez, who serves as chief brewing officer.

The location will include a 150-seat taproom and a 9,000-square-foot production space, which will brew Denizens’ four core beers: Southside Rye APA, Born Bohemian Pilsner, Third Party Tripel and Lowest Lord ESB.

While the taproom will enhance Denizens’ reputation as a destination for beer-drinkers, the production space will allow it to build out its customer base, selling more wholesale to local distributors.

Co-founder Julie Verratti, who serves as chief brand officer, said the brewery matched out on its production capacity three years ago and has had to turn down retail customers at bars, restaurants and liquor stores.

Denizens’ beer can currently be found everywhere from Busboys and Poets and MOM’s Organic Market to Nationals Park.

Executive Chef James Marroquin has planned a menu featuring globally inspired dishes that have been designed with specific beer pairings in mind.

The taproom will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday, and to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Lunch will be offered Monday through Friday and brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Posted in Riverdale Park | 2 Comments

University Town Center Apartments Almost Open

High-end apartments inside a renovated office building at University Town Center are now pre-leasing.

The Highline apartments will be located at 3700 East West Highway in the 10-story Metro II building, first constructed in 1968 as part of an effort to create a “Rockefeller Center in the countryside.”

While the exterior, designed by the same architect as the Kennedy Center, remains the same, the interior has been dramatically refashioned.

The building will have co-working spaces with phone, internet and desks that can accommodate up to six people; a sound-proofed “Rockstar Room” for rehearsals; a “Moroccan Sunroom” to get light on rainy days; a “Makers Space;” and Amazon lockers for easy pickup, along with a bike room, a fitness center and a pet spa.

“Whether you want to create a new podcast or record a track, make crafts with other residents, or soak up the sun in Moroccan style, our Hyattsville apartments offer practicality, imagination, and comfort,” the apartment website notes.

Apartments come with a washer and dryer, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, large closets and a keyless entry system. Floor plans range from a 636-square-foot studio to a 1,719-square-foot three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment. Prices range from $1,400 to $3,100.

The biggest selling point may be location, however. The apartments are next to a movie theater, new Safeway and several restaurants and a short walk from the Prince George’s Plaza Metro station.

Posted in Hyattsville | 1 Comment

‘Faces of Hyattsville’ Offers Free Photo Shoot

Courtesy of Juliette Fradin.

Photographer Juliette Fradin is putting together an exhibition called “Faces of Hyattsville,” and she needs your help.

Hyattsville residents who come to a photo shoot Saturday, May 4, will be featured as part of her ongoing series, intended to showcase the area’s rich diversity.

“I welcome all races, religions, countries of origin, all ages, genders and sexual orientations,” she wrote in a request. “Seriously. Come with your spouse, neighbor, dog, newborn, parakeet, grandma…”

In exchange for the one-minute photo shoot, you’ll be given a free copy of the digital file.

As a native of France, Fradin says she’s been drawn to explore interactions in the local community, especially how people come together. She hopes her photo series, which depicts individuals in their everyday clothes in front of a stark white background, will showcase that.

“As a photographer I want to highlight the diversity of our city, the people who shape this close-knit community and it is also a way for me to give back,” she said. “Being an immigrant myself with no previous ties to the U.S., I deeply value the importance of strong connections.”

Fradin will take photos from noon to 2:30 p.m. at 4802 Rhode Island Ave., the gray garage across from Pizzeria Paradiso in South Hyattsville. You must be a resident of Hyattsville to participate.

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Route 1’s New ‘Silicon Valley’ Center Now Open

College Park’s aspirations for a slice of “Silicon Valley” on the Route 1 corridor took a big step forward with the official opening this week of a $152 million computer science and engineering building.

With a sleek glass exterior and curvy design, the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering, which was kickstarted by a $31 million donation from the co-founder of Oculus VR Brendan Iribe, has raised the bar for the area’s architecture. But it’s what’s inside that matters even more.

Located on the corner of Campus Drive and Baltimore Avenue, the six-story building, which had an official ribbon-cutting this week after three years of construction, will host students and professors working on cybersecurity, quantum computing, data science, virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

The building also has a makerspace, cafe, a 300-seat auditorium and a rooftop garden. One room is even named for the Brin family: emeritus math professor Michael and Goddard Space Flight Center Eugenia and their sons, University of Maryland graduates Samuel and Sergey, the co-founder of Google.

Across the street are the Hotel at the University of Maryland, a new WeWork location, a tech incubator and a future Purple Line stop. A little farther down the road is the university’s burgeoning Discovery District, which is already home to several big government labs and science-based tenants.

And the nearby area is already changing, with new restaurants, student housing and apartments aimed at post-college living.

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