Why the Mall at Prince George’s Is Booming

Mall Prince George's Plaza shopping Hyattsville renovations

The American mall is in trouble, but the Mall at Prince George’s is not.

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

The mall, which opened in 1959, recently added tenants such as H&M and is also adding big name brands such as ULTA Beauty, Macy’s Backstage and Designer Shoe Warehouse.

Here are a few reasons why it’s escaping the fate of other malls:

Competition: Many of the malls that are in trouble face a newer competitor down the road. The nearest mall is Beltway Plaza Mall in Greenbelt, which has a much different market segment. Other malls in Wheaton and Bowie are a pretty far drive.

Anchor tenants: Many failing malls have lost an anchor tenant. But Prince George’s still has Macy’s, Target and J.C. Penney as main anchors, and Old Navy, T.J. Maxx, Ross Dress for Less and Marshall’s as secondary anchors.

Location: The most troubled malls are in suburban locations. But Hyattsville is not exactly suburban. The Mall at Prince George’s is across the street from a transit station and surrounded by apartments, including new high-end rentals, guaranteeing foot traffic.

The Mall at Prince George’s will need to continue innovating in order to face the threat posed by online shopping. Even with the renovations, it still hews pretty closely to the older model of giant parking lots, without the open-air plazas and promenades that some redesigned shopping centers now feature.

But for now, it’s booming.

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University Park’s Secret Historic Cemetery

University Park has a Revolutionary War-era cemetery, but you’d be forgiven if you didn’t know about it.

Hidden on a quiet residential street in the historic district of University Park is a small cemetery for members of the prominent Deakins family, which owned the estate that was later sold to the town’s developers.

William Deakins Sr. bought the 224-acre property in 1758. His son, Leonard, who fought in the Revolutionary War, later inherited it. Here’s a brief bio from an architectural historian:

Leonard Deakins (born 1746) was a Revolutionary War leader; he recruited a company of men from the Georgetown area, was elected their captain, and served in several battles in New York. He was elevated to colonel before the close of the war. Deakins was active in the shipping industry in Georgetown, and also held considerable land in Prince George’s County.

Located on 41st Avenue in University Park, the Deakins cemetery has tombstones for 19 family members, including Leonard.

But there’s no public access, and you can’t see much from the street, so the cemetery goes mostly unnoticed by the general public.

If you are looking for a more public landmark, you can still see the original Deakins home from 1830, named Bloomfield, at 6404 Queens Chapel Road.

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An Interview with Streetcar 82 Brewing Co.

Streetcar 82 Hyattsville brewery craft beer microbrew

Mark Burke, Jonathan Cetrano and Sam Costner stand outside the future home of Streetcar 82 Brewing Co. Photo courtesy of Streetcar 82.

Hyattsville’s newest brewery is gaining a lot of attention.

Streetcar 82 Brewing Co., which is set to open in a former auto garage on Route 1 not far from Pizzeria Paradiso, will be a Belgian-inspired brewery.

The Hyattsville Wire caught up with the three co-owners, Jonathan Cetrano, Sam Costner and Mark Burke, for an interview about their plans.

When did you first begin brewing beer? How did you learn?

Cetrano: Around 2007-8 I was watching my brother become a mad homebrewer. He started growing his own hops and making these awesome beers. I really started to get hooked on the possibility of making my own beers when my brother made a spectacular pumpkin ale using the pumpkins he grew in his garden. I started to realize then that beer really was like cooking, and was much more than what I was seeing in stores. Then when I moved to D.C. and met Mark, I started brewing seriously on my own in 2010 and joined Mark on brew days. We’ve been brewing together ever since.

Burke: I first started in 2008 through a connection with a friend who had been brewing for a while. I became curious and started borrowing his equipment. At first it was the cool factor of bringing my own beer to parties. I really loved seeing people drink my beer and enjoying it. Then I got my first homebrew equipment kit from my in-laws for Christmas. I started out making beers from a kit, then challenged myself and started brewing beers from scratch. It started as just a weekend diversion and grew into a serious hobby.

Costner: I’ve never really been interested in beer. When I moved to D.C. and reconnected with Mark and met Jon; I was strictly a bourbon enthusiast. Mark kept telling me that there is a beer for every person. Then I had Mark’s Belgian dark strong ale and realized that Mark was right; there really is a beer for everyone. But to answer your question, I’ve never brewed beer on my own. I enjoy the business side of things and seeing the potential to invest in a community with something I’ve learned to enjoy.

How did you guys decide to go into business?

Cetrano: Really, like it says on our website we were at Mark’s “bar” in his house sampling different beers and we started talking about brewing beer and opening a small brewery. The idea appealed to all of us. We went home after that night and the idea really stuck with us. So we did our research and figured out the costs and after a LOT of discussion with our wives we decided to go ahead and do it.

Burke: The idea of owning a business had always appealed to me. So when we discussed the idea of a small local brewery, I became really excited. I wanted to bring a small brewery to Hyattsville. Prior to this, I worked with Sam and Jon and I trusted these guys. Deciding to go into partnership with them was easy.

Costner: The business numbers made sense, so I said “Yeah, I’m in.” All kidding aside, I really like the idea and the challenge of setting up a small business. It is exciting and I like the idea of contributing to the vibrant atmosphere of Hyattsville.

What made you choose Hyattsville? What made this specific part of town or building attractive?

Costner: It was Mark that really brought us into Hyattsville. I was open to other places but it was Mark’s insistence that Hyattsville was a community that would support us and welcome us that brought our focus here. In the past year and a half, I’ve seen Hyattsville grow tremendously, and have felt very welcome here. I joined Arrow Bicycle’s ice hockey team, played with Chris Militello and Chris Davidson, and have met many Hyattsville residents through Mark. It has really been a very nice town that has welcomed us with open arms. Hyattsville has also made an impression on my wife too. She loves the area!

Burke: I like to say that I am a Hyattsville man! We’re right in the D.C. metro area but at the same time Hyattsville gives us that small town/community feel that we can connect to.   It feels like everyone in town knows each other. Hyattsville has been going through a revitalization over the past several years, it has been nice seeing it grow. We want to be involved with that growth and become a part of the community.

Costner: Same as Jon, Mark convinced me that Hyattsville was the place to be as well. I like how welcoming Hyattsville is to creative enterprises, and how there is such a diversity of businesses along Route 1. I come from a small town in North Carolina and Hyattsville reminds me of my childhood town’s Main Street. The fabric of the community is there and it sustains and encourages local small businesses which I really appreciate.

Is there anything Hyattsville could do to encourage the local beer scene? Do you know the other brewers in town?

Cetrano: When we became serious about setting up a brewery in Hyattsville we met with Mike Franklin at Franklin’s to chat about our plans. Not many people would be thrilled about another brewery setting up shop down the street. But Mike was supportive and offered his thoughts and opinions about setting up a brewery. Since then we’ve met up with several other brewers locally and nationally. Stuart Eisenberg and Justin Fair at Hyattsville CDC have been great supporters of us and have encouraged the development of the local beer scene in Hyattsville. We look forward to continuing to work with Hyattsville CDC and the city of Hyattsville.

Burke: We do recognize that Hyattsville and the neighboring towns want more places to go to for some good beers and hang out. Town Center Market, Franklin’s, Pizzeria Paradiso and the soon to be open Maryland Meadworks do provide that craft beers/mead scene that people are are looking for. I’ve chatted with Mike Roy (Franklin’s), Matt Humbard (Handsome Beer Co.) and Ken Carter (Maryland Meadworks) They’ve been very supportive and have been enthusiastic about us joining their community. Waredaca Brewing in Gaithersburg has been a great resource for us as well. We would also love to do a collaboration brew with our brewery neighbors someday.

Costner: Hyattsville is very encouraging and supportive of our brewery and other creative/business pursuits in town. If that support keeps up then I can see downtown Hyattsville becoming even more vibrant and a popular destination. To encourage the local beer scene, Hyattsville could ensure that the Trolley Trail bike extension is complete and make downtown more pedestrian- and bike-friendly. The towns I’ve seen with vibrant beer scenes are often walkable and bikeable downtown spaces and encourage that type of flow.

Will people be able to stop in to try beer or will you just be using the shop to make the beer? Where will it be sold?

Cetrano: We will be a production brewery and plan to operate a tap room. In our taproom we will sell tasters, flights, and pints. For to go orders we will sell growlers, crowlers, as well as kegs. Out front, we will have a patio with seating for people to relax, enjoy the beer, and chat with passersby. We will encourage people to bring food or order from neighboring restaurants to eat on site and hope to attract food trucks on the weekends.

Costner: Our first year’s focus will be on selling through our tap room. As we start establishing ourselves, we we plan to distribute our beer to area restaurants and as growth permits, can our beer to sell at retail spots.

Burke: I’d like to add, we’ve been testing and tweaking our recipes in preparation for opening day. We’re always testing new recipes. Here are a few examples of what we have: Belgian Blonde Ale with locally sourced honey from Hope Honey Farm, Belgian IPA, Belgian Dark Strong, Saison with orange peel, and a chocolate stout brewed with cocoa nibs.

What kind of support do you expect from the deaf community? Any special outreach or events planned?

Cetrano: We are fortunate because we already have a lot of support from the deaf community. We will incorporate some sign language within the brewery itself. Our outreach will be focused on the Hyattsville community, bringing the neighborhood together.

Burke: That’s right, Jon. We see ourselves as a potential bridge to bring the community together. For example, maybe having an ASL-Beer class focusing on the natural social interaction people have around beer.

Costner: Like for example, the ASL App focuses on teaching users ASL for the purpose of daily interaction. Our space will be a place where that interaction and exchange happens–meeting and chatting with your neighbors. That is what Hyattsville is all about, right? But ultimately our space is really all about beer. The backs of our t-shirts says it all, “In pursuit of good beers!”

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University Park Elementary Helps Anacostia River

University Park Elementary stormwater runoff Anacostia watershed

University Park Elementary School is doing its part to improve the Anacostia watershed.

The nonprofit Anacostia Watershed Society is digging up the school’s soccer field and areas around the playground to install new stormwater pipes and drainage basins as part of its goal of making the river swimmable and fishable by 2025.

The project, which has been underway for most of the summer, will improve water quality in runoff into nearby Wells Run, the picturesque creek that is a tributary of the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River.

It will also reduce standing water on the school grounds, which can be a problem after heavy rainfalls such as the ones that have hit the area in recent weeks. That’s a nice side benefit for parents of elementary-aged children who like to splash in muddy puddles.

The underground drainage pipes will dramatically reduce pollutants going into the creek, especially sediment, which is the most common pollutant in U.S. waterways, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources funded the project with a grant, while the University Park Elementary PTA chipped in to cover the cost of replacement benches, trash cans, bike racks and tables.

The Anacostia Watershed Society also plans to work with students at the elementary to help with replanting after the project is over.

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Vigilante Coffee Coming Soon to College Park


College Park will get its own Vigilante Coffee as early as this fall.

The popular Hyattsville hangout will open its second outpost at 8200 Baltimore Ave., previously the site of #1 Liquors, with indoor seating for 25 to 30 people.

Owner Chris Vigilante told the Hyattsville Wire that the one-floor coffee shop will have dueling La Marzocco espresso machines, a brew bar for non-espresso coffee, acai bowls and plant life throughout.

The shop will have a “killer sound system” to fit the 13-foot ceilings. And by spring 2018, the new location will also have what Vigilante promises will be an “epic patio,” but for now the goal is just to get the shop open.

“It’ll have its own vibe and design,” he said. “We love repurposing old buildings and bringing things back to life. For example, we’re restoring and adding our own style and wording to the old ‘Liquor, beer, wine’ neon sign that hangs off the side of the building.”

Already, the building has a new mural by artist Graham Boyle, adding to the growing list of public art along Route 1.

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Riverdale Park’s Historic Train Stop

You can credit the family that owned the Riversdale mansion for Riverdale Park’s historic train stop.

At the turn of the 19th century, the Calvert family owned a 729-acre plantation north of Bladensburg, where they grew tobacco and other crops. The property turned out to be well-situated when railroads developed.

In 1827, the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road Co. was chartered with the goal of building rail lines that could get goods from the Midwest across the Allegheny Mountains to markets on the East Coast faster than ships using the Erie Canal.

One of the first connections the B&O wanted to make was between Baltimore and the thriving tobacco port of Bladensburg. That meant going through Riversdale.

So the Calverts made a deal, as described in a 2006 Washington Post article:

“They had a stop for the mansion,” said Douglas McElrath, curator of the Marylandia and rare books department at the University of Maryland library. “He was a planter owning thousands of acres, so he was using it to transport crops and materials.” The station was put in service in 1835, and the train has been stopping in Riverdale Park ever since.

Though the rail line was designed for shipping goods, it’s also run passenger trains from the beginning, with the first passenger service in Riverdale Park in August of 1835. By some accounts, that makes it one of the oldest U.S. passenger services still in operation.

(Coincidentally, the nearby College Park Airport is the oldest continuously operated airport in the world.)

When the Calvert family sold the mansion and 475 acres to New York real estate investors in 1887, the train station proved a key attraction in developing the town of Riverdale Park.

Today the Camden Line of the MARC commuter rail system stops at Riverdale station, on tracks owned and controlled by freight carrier CSX. From there, it’s about an hour ride to Baltimore or a 15-minute ride to Union Station in D.C.

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Alchohol Fuels Once-Dry Hyattsville’s Rebirth

Pizzeria Paradiso Hyattsville beer taps microbrew

Hyattsville was once a dry town, a place where you couldn’t get anything stronger than a Coca-Cola at a soda shop on Baltimore Avenue.

Things have changed, to say the least. The city’s code, updated in 1983, now allows liquor licenses, and since 2002 Hyattsville has even had its own brewery, Franklin’s, located around the corner from where the soda shop once was.

The rebirth of Route 1 has spurred even more change. Busboys and Poets, which opened in 2011, has a thriving cocktail bar; Yes! Organic Market, which opened that same year, has an extensive beer and wine selection and even had to get state approval to use a front entrance due to a nearby church.

Beer and wine have become a draw for local events.

In 2016, an annual arts gathering was renamed the Hyattsville Arts and Ales Festival, with the Brewers Association of Maryland joining as a co-sponsor. A neighborhood wine tour called the Vine Crawl is a long-running institution. The Hyattsville Summer Jam series features a beer and wine garden and this year even featured a special “Honeyville” ale from  Calvert Brewing Co. in Upper Marlboro.

More is coming. The area south of downtown will soon have enough spots for a pub crawl.

Pizzeria Paradiso, which is known as much for its impressive beer selection as it is for pizza, opened a new restaurant in the old Marche building. Down the street, Maryland Meadworks is moving in, while Streetcar 82 Brewing Co. is setting up shop around the corner. One of the owners of Handsome Beer Co. also lives in Hyattsville, though they brew their beer out of town.

Hyattsville is hardly alone in this change. Takoma Park was also dry, and stayed that way thanks to the influence of the headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but a few years ago it began allowing beer and wine sales.

The craft-beer revolution that began in the 1980s has turned alcohol’s reputation around, with some even arguing that craft breweries are either a sign of civic health or perhaps even a cause of it.

“One final marker, perhaps the most reliable: A city on the way back will have one or more craft breweries, and probably some small distilleries too,” wrote James Fallows in The Atlantic last year. “A town that has craft breweries also has a certain kind of entrepreneur, and a critical mass of mainly young (except for me) customers. You may think I’m joking, but just try to find an exception.”

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The Evolution of Pizza on Route 1

Lotsa Pizza College Park Route 1 Maryland pizzeria

Want a slice on Route 1? You’ve got options.

In recent weeks, two more pizza places have opened in the area at opposite ends of the spectrum: Pizzeria Paradiso, a gourmet sit-down restaurant in Hyattsville with a wide selection of beers, and Lotsa Stone-Fired Pizza, a build-your-own casual spot aimed at students in College Park.

Later this month, local sit-down chain Potomac Pizza is expected to open at the Hotel at the University of Maryland, while build-your-own-focused MOD Pizza has signed a lease for a spot at Riverdale Park Station.

They join a crowded marketplace. Blaze Pizza, a fast-growing chain which takes a similar build-your-own approach, is within walking distance of Lotsa in College Park. Old-school pizzeria Ledo’s is around the corner from there, as is Slice’s, a New York-style pizza-by-the-slice joint. Farther south in College Park is Paisano’s, which focuses on delivery, and long-standing neighborhood favorite Dumm’s Pizza & Subs in Riverdale Park.

There’s also the usual chains—Papa John’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Sbarro—and an assortment of other smaller chains and local pizza joints—Pizza Kingdom, Pizza Mart, Pizza Boli’s, D.P. Dough, in College Park, Jerry’s Subs and Pizza in Hyattsville and Z.Z. Pizza and Kabob in Mount Rainier. And that’s not to mention restaurants like Franklin’s and Busboys and Poets and even Whole Foods, which also offer pizza.

College students are a huge reason for the pizza glut around College Park. The local scene also shows the evolution within the industry, from sit-down restaurants in the 1950s to quick-and-cheap delivery places in the 1980s to the current vogue for build-your-own fast-fired pizza. At least one analyst thinks stress over current events is driving consumers to pizza as a comfort food.

And pizza is just popular, generally. A 2016 poll found that 41 percent of consumers say they eat pizza at least once a week, a huge jump from just two years earlier. So while there’s a lot of pizza places, there’s also a lot of demand.

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Meet Route 1’s Very Own Dinosaur

Route 1 has its own dinosaur, and there are several local sites where you can learn more.

Astrodon johnstoni was a long-necked sauropod from the Early Cretaceous period which lived in Maryland about 112 million years ago. It looks a lot like its more famous cousin Brachiosaurus, another lumbering herbivore.

The name (literally “star tooth”) comes from a star pattern in its teeth, first described by Christopher Johnston, a dentist and member of the Maryland Academy of Sciences.

But the real heroes of the story may be lost to history. The first fossils—two unusually large teeth—were said to have been given in late November of 1858 to a state geologist working on a map of Maryland. Though he is usually given credit for the discovery, the teeth were actually found by African-American miners working at the Muirkirk ironworks in Laurel, which is now the site of Dinosaur Park.

At the time, the clay in the area was mined for siderite, which was then melted down to produce iron ore for construction and manufacturing.

Apart from its iron content, the clay-rich soil in what is known as the Arundel Formation is also good for preserving fossils, leading to the nickname “Dinosaur Alley” for the area of land running parallel to Route 1 between Baltimore and Washington. In 1998, Astrodon was named Maryland’s state dinosaur.

If you want to learn more about Astrodon, you can start with a visit to the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, where you can come face to face with a full-sized recreation. Next, a visit to Dinosaur Park in Laurel, an outdoor park on the site where Astrodon was first discovered.

For younger kids, you can check out the dinosaur activity room at Montpelier Mansion in Laurel is also in order. This hidden gem is a short drive from the Route 1 corridor and has a bunch of dinosaur-themed puzzles and games on the grounds of a stately Georgian manor from the 18th century.

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Streetcar 82 Brewing Co. Signs Lease

Streetcar 82 Brewing Hyattsville brewery microbrew craft beer

A Belgian-inspired brewery is coming to Hyattsville.

Streetcar 82 Brewing Co. just announced it has signed a lease on a building up the street from Pizzeria Paradiso.

The space at 4824 Rhode Island is a former auto garage and it comes with two beautiful garage doors that open up and provide great indoor/outdoor brewing space. We’re looking forward to joining the growing community of makers and creatives in Hyattsville.

The brewery, which gets its name from the streetcar line that used to run up Rhode Island Avenue, was started by Gallaudet University graduates Jon Cetrano, Mark Burke and Sam Costner, who had returned to the D.C. area after working in other parts of the country.

On their website, the three say they chose Hyattsville because of the sense of community.

“We have the support of a large Deaf community, each of our neighborhoods (Eckington, Woodridge, and Hyattsville) has a unique, distinctive identity, and small town feel,” they wrote.

They’re living up to that promise already. They’ve brewed a Belgian Blond Ale with honey from the town’s own Hope Honey Farm and held a “Bikes and Beer” event with Arrow Bicycle just up the road.

Streetcar 82 is selling t-shirts with their logo (by Andres Otalora, a deaf graphic designer, and Route 66, a deaf-owned design and apparel company) on their website.

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