Lidl Grocery Store Headed to College Park

Lidl College Park grocery store chain German Route 1 Prince George's County Maryland

A prototype Lidl grocery store in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Photo courtesy of Lidl.

Discount grocery Lidl will make College Park one of its first U.S. locations.

The German chain (pronounced leedle) is planning to open 100 stores along the East Coast by 2018, with the first stores opening in the Mid Atlantic and Southeast. In Prince George’s County, other stores are planned for Bowie and Suitland.

The College Park store would be built at the site of the Clarion Inn at the corner of Baltimore Avenue and Berwyn Road. The site plan was approved by the Prince George’s County Planning Board in October.

The 36,000-square-foot store would be just slightly smaller than the recently opened 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods in Riverdale Park.

Unlike that store, the high-end Safeway at University Town Center or the Yes! Organic Market at Arts District Hyattsville, Lidl is aiming for more of a discount audience. Its main competitor in the area is rival German chain Aldi, which already has stores in Hyattsville, Takoma Park and Beltsville.

The general concept at Lidl is sort of a cross between Trader Joe’s and Walmart: Lots of store-brand private labels, low prices, not as much selection as a traditional grocery store. (You want mustard? They have one kind, instead of 16.) Some foodies are excited about the U.S. expansion, and it’s considered a potential threat to Whole Foods.

The grocery should help with parts of College Park’s designation as a “food desert” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture—an area with low-income residents (mostly college students) and little access to food.

One other thing that should help with access: Developers may be required to add a bikesharing station. This is a smart and cost-effective way to expand the Zagster system in College Park, especially for new projects like a grocery store.

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Hyattsville Wire’s New Events Calendar

The Hyattsville Wire recently added an events calendar where you can add your own local events for free including ones from Hyattsville, University Park, Riverdale Park, College Park, Mount Rainier and other nearby communities.

As part of some recent upgrades to the site, we’ve added this new feature and we’ll be regularly adding to the calendar, but we hope you’ll also help us keep it up-to-date by adding your event too.

If you go to the form here you can add your event and we’ll approve it within a day or so of the submission. You can also access the form on the right-hand column of any page of the Hyattsville Wire.

There are lots of events happening along the Route 1 corridor every day, but it can be hard to keep track of them all. We hope our new calendar will be your go-to source for local events and happenings.

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College Park Named Top Rental Investment

College Park rentals housing apartments investment University MarylandCollege Park rentals are a good investment, according to an analysis by Redfin.

The online real estate services firm studied college towns associated with the 310 schools listed in the most recent U.S. News & World Report national ranking. They then cross-referenced tuition costs, median list price for nearby homes and the Walk Score.

The home of the University of Maryland, College Park, came in 15th nationally, with a median list price of $289,900, and tuition and fees of $32,045, a ranking of 60th on the U.S. News list and a Walk Score of 69.

That was competitive with Nashville, home of Vanderbilt University; and Madison, Wisconsin, home of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Redfin’s argument was that college towns are good for investment properties because of the regular influx of new students.

“The pool of potential tenants is also stable with new students coming in every year, so a property owner really doesn’t have to worry about where they will find the next tenant,” said Redfin agent Rory Haigler.

College towns are also good investments because they have a stable local economy and lots of good options for music and dining. For College Park rentals, that’s only going to improve.

Already, the area has seen the opening of MilkBoy ArtHouse; a $110 million apartment, retail and dining project on Guilford Drive; a $115 million hotel and conference center; new apartments proposed near the College Park Metro; and the Purple Line potentially coming right through town.

Historically, College Park also had something of a reputation as a “commuter school,” a place where students might drive in from their parents’ homes nearby, but as its student body has become more national and even international, a lot more high-end student housing has sprung up along Route 1, which should only drive the investment rentals market even more.

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Rt. 1 Communities Promote Tolerance With Signs

Hyattsville lawn signs Black Lives Matter Welcome Your NeighborsThe national election was almost six months ago, but political lawn signs are still going strong in Hyattsville and other Route 1 communities like University Park.

In the months since the presidential election, signs have popped up all over the area promoting tolerance in many forms.

One particularly popular sign says in three languages: “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.” Signs featuring Spanish, Arabic and Amharic—all languages spoken by the diverse local immigrant community—have been spotted.

That sign comes from the Welcome Your Neighbors movement, a loosely affiliated group that started with a handmade sign at a Mennonite church in Harrisonburg, Va. Pastor Matthew Bucher told NPR that he painted the sign in frustration at the rhetoric on immigration of the presidential primary debates, and it grew from there:

As Mennonites visiting Harrisonburg brought signs back to their home communities, the message spread to other towns. Immanuel Mennonite printed another 300 signs, then another thousand. They posted the PDF of the sign on their website and encouraged anyone who is interested to download and print as many signs as they want, coordinating mass orders on a Facebook page called “Welcome your Neighbors.”

The University Park Church of the Brethren, one of the three major pacifist Christian denominations in the U.S. with the Mennonites and the Quakers, is a major local promoter of these signs, featuring a large one on its site along Route 1.

University Park welcome your neighbors lawn sign amharic arabic

The signs are in part a reaction to the election results in an area that went by heavily for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. (In Hyattsville alone, 81 percent of voters backed Clinton and just 12 percent backed Trump.)

But they are also a reflection of a diverse community—37 percent of residents were born in another country, nearly three times the national average—that has long been fairly socially liberal.

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Route 1’s Roots Run Deep

Route 1, King's Highway, Hyattsville, Baltimore Avenue, Prince George's County, College Park, University Park, Riverdale Park

Route 1 can trace its origins in part to the 17th century.

The U.S. highway that runs through this area was once part of a system of roads connecting the colonies called the King’s Highway.

Named for King Charles II of England, who ordered it be built, the 1,300-mile road was laid out from 1650 to 1735, stretching from Boston to Charleston, South Carolina. First started as a postal route, it later handled stagecoaches and wagons.

The highway had various names along the way, including the Boston Post Road, the Potomac Trail and the Virginia Path. South of Annapolis, the stretch of road was often called the Great Coastal Road.

The National Postal Museum in downtown D.C. has an exhibit which references the “King’s Best Highway,” known today as Route 1, and tells the story of how it was a popular mail route that was for many generations just a path wide enough for a few wagons.

The Hyattsville Wire couldn’t find a detailed map of the highway as it went through this area, but there are references to it passing through Bladensburg, just south of downtown Hyattsville.

Route 1 runs 2,369 miles, from Fort Kent, Maine, at the border of Canada to Key West, Florida.

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Singer Building Ready to Rent in Mount Rainier

Menkiti Group, Singer Building, Singer Flats, Mount Rainier apartments, Prince George's apartments, Gateway Arts District

Courtesy of the Menkiti Group

The historic Singer Building in Mount Rainier will be renovated by the end of summer.

Built in 1936, the three-story building in the 3300 block of Rhode Island Avenue is being redeveloped by the Brookland-based Menkiti Group, its first project in Prince George’s County.

Once the home of a sales shop for the Singer sewing machine company and the First National Bank of Mount Rainier, the brick structure will soon house 11 apartments and 10,000 square feet of commercial space.

Already planned for that space: a 1,360-square-foot cafe by D.C.’s “bar czar” Joe Englert, who helped create the Rock and Roll Hotel and Lucky Bar among a slew of others; Annie’s Ace Hardware, which already has locations in Brookland and Petworth; and arts incubator ReCreative Spaces.

The apartments, which are being marketed as Singer Flats, are now up for lease, with a promised finish date of late summer 2017.

Mount Rainier is quickly becoming a new hotspot along Route 1. (Owners of historic bungalows and Victorians often receive postcards with unsolicited offers from eager investors.) This project, which makes good use of a nice historic building, should only add fuel to that fire.

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How MilkBoy Came to College Park

MilkBoy ArtHouse, MilkBoy College Park, College Park music, College Park restaurants

Photo by Geoff Sheil

The University of Maryland has set its sights on making College Park a great college town. MilkBoy ArtHouse, which opens Tuesday, is a crucial part of that effort.

A cafe, bar and live music venue on Route 1 at the former site of the Barking Dog bar, MilkBoy will offer made-from-scratch food like shrimp tacos, cocktails and beer and wine, along with live acts playing everything from indie rock to jazz and spoken word.

The College Park location is a project of the university’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and MilkBoy, a privately run venue in Philadelphia.

The Hyattsville Wire recently caught up with Martin Wollesen, executive director of The Clarice, and the folks behind MilkBoy. Here’s what they told us about how it came about.

Wollesen, who came to College Park in 2013, previously built a similar restaurant, bar and performance space called The Loft at the University of California, San Diego.

“I am interested in the various ways people participate and create in the performing arts, and I wanted to partner to create an informal performance space in our community that extended our offerings at The Clarice,” he said.

At the same time, the owners of MilkBoy had just done a collaboration with a Philadelphia-based group called U3 Advisors, a real estate and economic development firm which suggested they get in touch with the university. Both sides saw the opportunity.

“UMD is one of the biggest schools in the country, with a great arts community, but there’s nothing quite like us,” the owners of MilkBoy said in an email. “We’ve always wanted to operate in a college town.”

While new student housing, chains like Nando’s and TargetExpress and a $115 million hotel and conference center under construction, College Park is being redeveloped, but it’s the smaller projects like MilkBoy that will help make a difference.

Great college towns like Chapel Hill or Olympia have thriving local music scenes and funky restaurants. MilkBoy will help fill in both of those gaps in College Park.

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Hyattsville’s Catholics Draw National Attention

Hyattsville Catholics, St. Jerome Academy, St. Jerome Hyattsville, Benedict Option

A bestselling book about conservative Christianity has drawn national attention to the Hyattsville Catholic community.

American Conservative editor Rod Dreher’s book “The Benedict Option” calls for Christians to build enduring communities as a bulwark of what he views as a decadent American culture.

One of the communities he cites is in Hyattsville, centered in the Historic District around St. Jerome’s church and school.

In recent weeks, Hyattsville’s Catholic community has been featured on The American ConservativeNPR and The New Yorker.

The articles note that the prime mover in the local community was Chris Currie, a voluble public relations consultant who now works at St. Jerome Academy, who moved to the area in 1997 and persuaded like-minded friends to join him.

The community is small—the New Yorker article estimates that there are around 200 families, based on the size of two listservs (“Barn Raisers” for men and “Hyattsville Catholic Women”). But its tightly knit, with kids hanging out at each other’s houses, women praying the rosary together, families meeting up for Sunday potlucks and neighbors dropping in on each other unexpectedly. NPR notes that most of the families live within a two-mile radius.

“I mean, there are downsides,” Currie told the New Yorker. “The other day—it was seven-thirty in the morning—I was in the bathroom, and somebody knocked on the door. It was one of my Catholic neighbors. He didn’t apologize for it or anything. He was on his morning run, and he thought, ‘Oh, I’d like to talk to Chris about this.’”

The articles also note that Vigilante Coffee, a hip coffee roaster down the street, has become a key meeting place for Catholic families in the community.

Despite the national attention, Hyattsville’s Catholic community doesn’t necessarily see itself as a poster child for Dreher’s ideas. Several told NPR that they don’t view themselves as alienated or marginalized, and the article notes the community split its vote about evenly between Donald Trump and other candidates.

“For me personally,” Hyattsville resident Jane Murphy told NPR, “living in this community has strengthened my faith so that I can go out to the wider community, the secular community, and talk with confidence about my faith. I can be accepting of other people but still be confident about telling them about my faith.”

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University Park Celebrates Its Trees

On Friday, the town of University Park and the University Park Elementary School celebrated Arbor Day by planting an American beech tree on school grounds next to the town park. Students took part in planting the tree, the 13th planted in the town to commemorate the day.

Trees are central to the town’s identity. Since 2004, University Park has been named a Tree City USA community, one of 41 in Maryland according to the National Arbor Day Foundation. That’s not surprising in a town of 2,000 without any commercial property.

Incorporated in 1936, the town was designed from the start to be a place for single-family homes without any “commercial encroachment.” Little has changed. As the Washington Post recently wrote, it’s “a town that feels like there is a little bubble over it.”

Old-growth trees line a maze of side streets and there are few new homes and no apartments or condominiums. Most houses date back to the early 20th century and a section of town was designated a national historic district.

“brief history” on the town website website notes that many people from Washington in the mid-1960s would come up to “the country” in the spring to hear the frogs that would gather in the swampy space between the school and Queens Chapel Road.

While Hyattsville, Riverdale Park and College Park have undergone significant development in recent years, University Park has remained the same.

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Vigilante Coffee Places Among Top U.S. Roasters

Vigilante Coffee, Hyattsville, coffee roasters, Prince George's County

The owner of Vigilante Coffee was named one of the top roasters at the U.S. Coffee Championships.

At the April 21-23 event in Seattle, Chris Vigilante placed fifth in the U.S. Roaster Championship, with a total score of 240.63, alongside roasters from Arkansas, Minnesota, Texas and California.

Started in 2002, the Coffee Championships include separate contests for baristas to be tested on their ability to distinguish flavors, blends and accent notes in different cups of coffee and baristas and brewers to prepare, brew and serve specialty coffee drinks to a team of judges, according to a KING 5 account.

The winning baristas and brewers then head on to world championships.

Since opening in a former Model T showroom in downtown Hyattsville in 2014, Vigilante has quickly gained attention as a premier coffee spot in the D.C. area. A second Vigilante coffee shop is planned for College Park.

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