Q2 sees prime Route 1 properties trade hands

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been a busy few months for property sales along the Route 1 corridor in Prince George’s County. Several major commercial and multi-family properties have traded hands in the second quarter of the year, according to state property records.

950-bed mixed-use student housing approved for College Park

The Prince George’s County Planning Board unanimously approved detailed plans for a 9-story, 950-bed, 282-unit student housing complex in southern College Park. The move clears the way for Athens-Georgia-based Landmark Properties to apply for building permits for the mixed-use project, which will also include 6,670 square-feet of ground-floor retail. The project, which will demolish an existing office building, is the second major redevelopment in the pipeline in College Park’s southern Baltimore Avenue corridor. Dubbed the Standard at College Park, the complex will be built on a 1.9-acre parcel of land between Hartwick Road and Guilford Road. In an April letter, developers told the Calvert Hills Civic Association they hoped to open to project by Spring 2023, which would be an ambitious schedule even without a recession and a persistent regional construction labor shortage. 

An excerpt from the application materials for The Standard at College Park shows the site location, about a half-block west of Baltimore Avenue and Hartwick Road.

After vandalism, Magruder Park signs removed

Signs bearing the name “William Pinckney Magruder Park” have been removed by the city of Hyattsville after vandals defaced at least one other sign with Magruder’s name, city officials announced June 22, 2020. The move comes as protests against systemic racism, police violence, and monuments to white supremacists have spread across the country in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. Calls to change Magruder Park’s name have been a topic in Hyattsville for more than a year. This is because in 1927 William Pinckney Magruder donated much of the land that now makes up the park with conditions that allowed only the city’s white residents to use it. “The signage at Magruder Park has recently been vandalized by those protesting the name of the park’s donor, William Pinkney Magruder, and the offensive and segregationist language contained in the Magruder Park covenant/deed.

Mount Rainier activists hope to build hyperlocal ‘Defund the Police’ movement

Now, as the national debate around policing has re-emerged – and the  “defund the police” movement found a wide audience – a group of activists hope to build a lasting, grassroots movement to pressure Mount Rainier officials to rethink how the city approaches law enforcement. 

Tentatively called Mount Rainier Community Action, the ad-hoc group of activists hosted a protest in Mount Rainier June 20, 2020, that served to inaugurate the hyperlocal movement. An estimated 200 people participated. The event featured music, marching, calls-to-action, speeches and eulogies for the victims of police violence. 

“I think there’s a lot of momentum in this moment to all of us develop and better understand how we can have an impact right in the community,” said Alicia Skeeter, one of the organizers, in an interview with Route 1 Reporter. 

Police reform issues are unique in American political discourse. While issues surrounding the intersection of racism and law enforcement are national-level issues, those with the most power over the police are local officials in charge of the police departments that patrol cities, counties and towns across America. Mount Rainier, which has had to endure its own issues with police accountability, is no different.

Detailed Magruder Pointe plans approved by Planning Board

After nearly two hours of testimony, the Prince George’s County Planning Board unanimously approved a detailed site plan for one portion of the controversial Magruder Pointe development. 

Werrlein Properties, which has been pursuing the project for more than two years, hope to eventually build a mix of 71 attached and detached single-family homes on the 8.6-acre site, the former home of the WSSC headquarters. But the approval from the Planning Board, issued at its June 11, 2020, meeting, is for the roughly 3-acre upper lot, which once housed the WSSC headquarters building. These plans call for the construction of 16 detached single-family homes lining Hamilton Street and 41st Avenue. The remaining 15 townhome units roughly face Gallatin Street, and will back up against a new alley that will bisect the block. 

Most of the deliberations during the two-hours of discussion of Magruder Pointe was focused on the objections of a vocal group of Hyattsville residents opposed to the project. Their comments spearheaded by city resident Greg Smith, who raised concerns about density and stormwater management issues. 

The proposal has been notoriously divisive in Hyattsville.

Prince George’s County gets high marks from bond underwriters

Despite facing significant a projected loss of $130 million in revenue heading into the next fiscal year at the end of June, major financial ratings agencies have maintained Prince George’s County’s triple-A bond rating. The news was announced by Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks June 15, 2020. According to the announcement, financial ratings agencies Fitch, Moody’s and Standard and Poors all gave top marks to the county. A bond rating like a credit score for a government. A good bond rating, and a triple-A score is good, is helpful to have if you plan any major debt-financed projects because it gets you access to lower-interest loans.

Mount Rainier brings #DefundThePolice to Prince George’s

A virtual forum to discuss racism and policing in Mount Rainier saw city officials – including the chief of police – discuss ways the town could rethink law enforcement or “defund the police”. The meeting is the latest example of how international outrage over systemic racism and policing, recently underscored by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, could translate into policy action at the local level.