Michael Theis is the editor and publisher of Route 1 Reporter. He grew up in Hyattsville and College Park. He has more than 10 years experience as a professional journalist, working for such news outlets as the Frederick News-Post, The Shepherdstown Chronicle, Patch.com and the Austin Business Journal.
The next step on the multi-phase redevelopment plans for Beltway Plaza is underway. Bethesda-based mall owner Quantum Cos. is gathering feedback on a still-in-the-works detailed site plan for first phase of the planned six-phase redevelopment. Most-recently, representatives from Quantum Cos. shopped their plans before Greenbelt’s City Council during a Nov.
The Prince George’s Plaza Metro Station will be renamed to Hyattsville Crossing, and many people hate the new name.
The proposal was approved in a Nov. 19, 2020, vote by Metro’s board of directors. Along with Hyattsville Crossing, Tysons Corner will be renamed to simply “Tysons.” With the significant caveat that it’s not a scientific survey, survey data collected from the public before the name change vote showed only 33 percent of respondents like the new Hyattsville Crossing name, 48 percent did not like the name (with 35 percent saying they “strongly” disliked the name). The move is the culmination of a years-long effort by city economic development officials to develop a more cohesive identity for the neighborhood anchored by the Metro station.
In a June vote, Hyattsville City Council approved a measure directing city staff to request the name be changed on official Metro maps in advance of the planned opening of Phase II of the Silver Line, which will require all Metro maps to be reprinted. The Metro station derives it name from the former Prince George’s Plaza mall, known today as the Mall at Prince George’s and branded as simply MPG by its owners REIT.
Less than two years after being sworn in, Hyattsville’s Police Chief Amal Awad announced she will resign in December to be the chief of police in Anne Arundel County.
“Leaving Hyattsville is bittersweet,” said Awad during a press conference announcing her appointment to the Anne Arundel County chief’s job. “I’m fervently thankful to the city of Hyattsville for allowing me to serve as their chief of police.”
“Chief Awad has demonstrated extraordinary leadership, depth of knowledge, professionalism, and grace in her service to the City of Hyattsville over the past three years,” said Mayor Candace Hollingsworth, who also recently announced her own resignation, in a statement. “I was only able to work with her for a short time, but she deserves a lot of credit for the direction of the department and I am excited for her and for the opportunities that are coming her way,” said Hyattsville City Councilor Daniel Peabody. “I will very much miss working with her in the city of Hyattsville.”
“During her time as Hyattsville chief, Awad modernized her department, won the respect of her officers and her community and worked through the challenges faced by police departments across the country,” Said Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman. “She is a peacemaker and a consummate professional.”
Awad was sworn in as Hyattsville’s police chief Dec.
College Park City Manager Scott Somers will resign effective Dec. 23, 2020, city officials announced Friday. The move ends Somers’ more-than five-years leading College Park’s city staff. “This was a very difficult decision;” said Somers in a statement. “the past five years that I have worked for the City have been the most challenging and rewarding period of my career.”
Somers is resigning to take a new position as CEO for Green Valley Recreation, Inc., a southern Arizona nonprofit that provides recreation, social, and leisure services for its members.
Hyattsville Mayor Candace Hollingsworth will resign from the city’s top seat, ending a nine-year career on City Council and six years as mayor. Hollingsworth announced her resignation in a message posted on Facebook at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 10, 2020. In her message, Hollingsworth thanked her constituents for their support, and said she would be turning her attention to the development of Our Black Party, a new political party she co-founded over the summer focused on improving the lives of African Americans through policymaking at all levels of government. “Unfortunately, I must let go to make room for the work I feel pulled toward,” said Hollingsworth in her message.
Election day came and went, but voters in College Park’s District Two will have to wait days to learn who their new City Council representative is as election officials there wait to count absentee ballots. Sound familiar? Preliminary results released Nov. 8, 2020, show Llatetra Brown Esters leading with 69 votes compared with rivals Ron Cameau and Lindsay Dively, who got 50 and 11 votes, respectively. But those were only votes cast at the College Park Community Center on election day Nov.
Hyattsville officials are pushing for a small change to the county’s new zoning code to clarify rules around microbreweries and other small-scale alcohol production facilities with restaurants. The crux of the matter is the new zoning code section regulating restaurants and bars requires those with “small scale” alcohol production facilities to devote a minimum of either 1,500 square feet or 45 percent of their total square footage – whichever is greater – to the actual serving of food and drinking of drinks.
Hyattsville city officials want county officials to add language exempting businesses located in “adaptive reuse” buildings or where “the interior layout of the building makes compliance impractical.”
Specifically to Hyattsville, ambiguity in this area of the regulations could affect a number of businesses. Over the past several years, a number of small alcohol producers, including a meadery, a distillery, and several microbreweries, have set up shop in the city, many in buildings that predate these businesses. Potentially, the new regulations could cause permitting issues in the future, though city staff admitted it would require one to interpret the regulations counter to their intent.
“We certainly have a few restaurants with alcohol uses within the city that are utilizing older buildings. Many of these buildings are close to 100 years old, and they are adaptive re-uses of buildings” said Jim Chandler, Hyattsville’s Economic Development Director, during a discussion of the proposed tweak at Hyattsville’s Nov.
Prince George’s County officials are developing a new master plan to guide development policy near the planned Adelphi Road Purple Line Station in College Park – despite the contractural uncertainty around the transit project. At its Oct. 29, 2020, meeting, Prince George’s County Planning Board approved a measure authorizing planning staff to launch a master planning process for a 163-acre area surrounding the future transit station. The study area is centered on the intersection of Adelphi Road and University Boulevard, and includes parts of Hyattsville, College Park, and unincorporated Adelphi. That area is home to several mid-century suburban tract housing developments.
Regional transit officials want to know what you think about a potential change to the Prince George’s Plaza Metro Station name, along with another proposed name change for the Tysons Corner Metro Station.
In an Oct. 27, 2020, announcement, Metro officials unveiled a survey to gather public sentiment about the proposed name changes. Prince George’s County and Hyattsville officials have requested Prince George’s Plaza station be renamed to Hyattsville Crossing. Likewise, Fairfax County officials want Tysons Corner to be simply renamed Tysons.
Route 1 Reporter has previously written about the Prince George’s Plaza name change. In short, Hyattsville economic development officials have since 2017 tried to brand the neighborhood around the Prince George’s Plaza Metro Station as Hyattsville Crossing.