University Town Center Needs Skateboarders

photo-43Skateboarders are not welcome at University Town Center. But they should be.

The Hyattsville Wire noticed this sign recently at the housing-and-retail development near Prince George’s Plaza. We think it’s self-defeating.

As the sport’s fans often say, “skateboarding is not a crime.” In fact, it can actually help deter crime, since real criminals don’t want to risk being seen by anyone, even if it’s just some teen-agers practicing their kick flips.

That’s one reason why the city of Hyattsville built a new skate park along the Anacostia River back in 2012.

So what’s the objection? We can imagine a property owner like University Town Center thinking that groups of teens hanging out would be the wrong image for the development, which is aiming for a slightly older crowd with Carolina Kitchen, Hank’s Tavern and an upcoming Safeway.

But right now, the alternative is an all-too-often empty plaza. Surely a few teen-agers on skateboards would be preferable.

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5 Responses to University Town Center Needs Skateboarders

  1. Danny says:

    Absolutely not. Skateboards make a lot of disruptive noise (it’s amazingly loud), and they damage the decorative stone pavement, steps, and walls on the UTC plaza (check it out–it’s a mess, and while that can’t all be attributed to skateboards, they’re definitely not helping). Skateboarding is also hazardous to kids during the months when the fountain is on.

  2. Chris Currie says:

    This is ironic, because UTC specifically aimed at the youth market when it began its expansion several years ago. I actually objected, as a member of the Planning Committee, when they presented the plans, because by anchoring the commercial component of the development with a multiplex on one end and a student dorm on the other, they were guaranteeing that the youth focus would so dominate that it would chase away other consumers — who would be necessary for the vitality of the mixed-use center. It sounds like management is belatedly realizing this, but shutting down ancillary uses that are consistent with your primary ones just makes the project even less viable.

    At the time, the UTC representatives told me that they thought that a youth-focused development was the only thing that would work in our market. I thought that was short-sighted then and still do.

  3. adelphi_sky says:

    I disagree. I think there is a place for skateboarders, but not at UTC where there are offices, bars, and restaurants. What visitor or office worker wants skateboarders dodging between them and doing flips that could potentially harm someone?

    Downtown Silver Spring is different because there is an actual community center with more retail than residents and office workers milling around. I’m all for building a skate park close by, but let’s save the plaza for pedestrians.

    Skateboarders don’t make projects successful. UTC has had problems that skateboarders can never fix. How about we work on getting retailers rather than skateboarders? One thing at a time?

  4. Meredith says:

    I heard that Hanks is closing.

  5. adelphi_sky says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. The food was pretty good but service was too inconsistent. It was always half empty. Has Safeway come too late? Or could it be the start of a rebirth for UTC with opportunities for more interesting retail? We’ll have to wait and see. It is still a great project that was just besieged by the recession and bad management.

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