The Tire Place Closes, Ending an Era on Route 1

A family-run tire repair shop in downtown Hyattsville closed this week, bookending an era of history along the Route 1 corridor.

Open since 1999, The Tire Place was popular for fixing flat tires and quickly handling small repairs for local residents in a pinch.

It was a throwback to a time when Route 1 was the only major thoroughfare from Washington to Baltimore, as depicted in a 2018 book by Aaron Marcavitch. Later, after the interstate highway system put Route 1 out of favor, the area around Hyattsville became known for used car dealerships and small auto-related shops.

At the turn of the 21st century, local leaders sought to revitalize the area with what has turned out to be a highly successful push to add new homes, apartments and shops while declaring the area an arts district.

But that push was at times heavy-handed.

In 2000, Prince George’s County banned smaller used-car dealerships with the unanimously approved Vehicle Mobile Home and Camping Trailer Sales and Service Zoning Law. The bill’s authors argued that would make it easier for developers to buy up the smaller lots for new projects.

Some of the dealers closed. But others took the county to court, where a Circuit Court judge ruled the ordinance unconstitutional in 2004.

Still, local government has continued to push for redevelopment of the old auto shops. In 2013, leaders in Riverdale Park, frustrated by the vacancy of a former gas station along Route 1, threatened to acquire it through eminent domain and turn it into a park.

The city backed down, but owner Jey Edwards eventually renovated the property, adding a stucco exterior and a new interior.

Yanira Castro, owner of the Tire Place, alleges that something similar happened with her business, telling the Hyattsville Life and Times that one reason she closed the shop was constant haggling with the county over licenses, permits and building codes.

“They don’t want auto mechanics,” she said. “They want nothing to do with cars in this area of Hyattsville. The only available permits are for restaurants and other retail.”

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