A plan to dramatically revamp the Beltway Plaza mall in Greenbelt was approved by a county planning commission last week.
In the near future, that will mean between 175 and 250 townhomes on Breezewood Road on the northern part of the mall property, and another 100 to 500 apartments in an unspecified location, according to an article in the Washington Business Journal.
In the long run, the plan would reshape an outdated but surprisingly successful 1980s style mall into more of the current neighborhood shopping center with offices, housing and retail within walking distance of each other.
The plan also calls for a central plaza similar to Bear Square at Riverdale Park Station — a spot with park benches, maybe a fountain and space for a band to play a small outdoor concert in the summer.
The biggest change would be for the mall to have more “destination retail,” commercial developer lingo for the kinds of big name stores that you actively seek out. That would make it more like the Mall at Prince George’s, which has a few brand names like Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, H&M and ULTA Beauty to lure shoppers.
It would almost certainly mean the end of the largely immigrant-owned mom-and-pop stores that have made a home in the mall in recent years, both because rents would probably go up and they’d see increased competition.
But it may take a few years to get there. The Beltway Plaza mall has been a success in its current form because it serves the market around it well. For the new plan to work, developers are first going to need a lot more high-end housing, office space and mixed-use buildings within walking distance.