Developer Eyes Hyattsville’s WSSC Building

WSSC Hyattsville historic district building Washington Suburban Sanitation CommissionA real estate developer once again has eyes on the former home of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.

The 115,000-square foot building, which dates to 1939, is the subject of a proposal by Werrlein Properties, a Maryland developer which has already built some new homes inside the Hyattsville Historic District.

At a presentation this week, the developers proposed demolishing the long-empty building and constructing a mix of row homes and single-family homes.

The 14 single-family homes would be along Hamilton Street and 41st Avenue on the northern and eastern edges of the property — a move clearly designed to placate neighbors who have long held that the property should be restored to the types of homes on it decades ago.

Those homes would likely be designed along the lines of the developers’ other new homes in the historic district, with smaller garages, porches and a handful of design flourishes that evoke the area’s bungalows. (You can see an example here.)

On the southern edge of the property, which doesn’t face any existing homes, the developers proposes 81 row homes, which would also have some  nods to the historic architecture of the area. (You can see a photo of one proposed design here.)

The biggest obstacle for developers remains the property’s zoning. The area was zoned for low-density residential — basically the single-family homes part of the proposal, but not the row homes section — and is grandfathered in for use as schools or offices.

It seems pretty clear by now that there’s not a developer interested in clearing the site just to build single-family homes. (Even at $600,000 a house, the property probably wouldn’t fit enough homes to justify the time and expense.) Nor is the area very attractive right now for offices. (It’s not the right area for that, and neighbors might still object.)

The proposal from a developer with some history in the area seems to be a compromise between what neighbors have long demanded and what a developer wants to make money on the deal. But the neighbors hold the upper hand on the rezoning.

That means they can either demand some concessions on the design and layout or they can fight the project entirely and risk seeing the property remain idle.

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