A large suburban strip mall is seen from above, at an angle. A sidewalk of street-facing retail, including a Shoe Show store, can be seen across a small two-lane circulator roadway.

Phase One of Beltway Plaza Redevelopment Takes Shape

Detailed plans for an ambitious redevelopment of Beltway Plaza will soon be weighed by the Prince George’s County Planning Board. If approved, construction at the site could begin within a year. 

The six phase redevelopment would eventually demolish the mall and add between 875 and 2,250 multi-family husing units and would replace the 800,000 square-foot central mall with between 435,000 and 700,000 square feet of commercial retail space. 

The first phase calls for the construction of a three multifamily apartment buildings with a total of 750 units, a 92-room hotel and a 27,000 square foot recreation center. The last time we heard about this project, the mall’s ownership group — Silver Spring-based Quantum Cos.  — was soliciting feedback on the finer details of their detailed site plans. A diagram shows a proposed overhead layout for a six-phase redevelopment of Beltway Plaza in Greenbelt.

Crucially for any retailers inside the mall: the current mall structure will not be touched during the first phase of the redevelopment. Rather, the first phase is focused on a sparsely-used parking lot on the northern side of the mall, fronting Breezewood Drive. 

The plans recently received the conditional blessing of the Greenbelt City Council, with some reservations from City Council members, according to the Greenbelt News Review. 

The project goes before the Prince George’s County Planning Board at its Sept.

Langley Park Renters Sue Landlord, Alleging Discrimination, Inhumane Living Conditions

Editor’s note: Route 1 Reporter is supported by its readers. If you like the reporting, please support Route 1 Reporter on Patreon. Hispanic renters at two Langley Park apartment complexes sued their landlords in federal court Monday, alleging violations of federal housing discrimination laws over what they say are inhumanely disgusting living conditions because the property owners have failed to make required repairs. 

The apartment complexes are the 488-unit Bedford Station, located at 1400 University Boulevard, and 101-unit Victoria Station, located at 1407 Merrimac Drive, in Langley Park. Through holding companies, both apartments are ultimately owned by Arbor Realty Trust, a New York-based real estate investment firm. Representatives for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Route 1 Reporter. The suit was brought by CASA, a Langley Park-based immigrant civil rights advocacy group, on behalf of eight residents living in the complexes. 

The suit alleges the apartment owners engaged in a systemic pattern of boosting their income by buying apartment properties in low-income areas and performing minimal – if any – maintenance on the properties.

Pepco lobbying of former Mt. Rainier mayor draws ethics complaint from Montgomery County lawmaker

Editor’s note: The headline has been edited to more clearly state the nature of the dispute

A Maryland legislator has asked the Mount Rainier Ethics Commission to look into Pepco’s lobbying relationship with former Mayor Malinda Miles during her closing months in office. In a June 10, 2021, letter to the city’s Ethics Commission, Del. Al Carr, a Democrat representing Kensington, Wheaton and Chevy Chase as part of the District 18 delegation, raised concerns about how Pepco solicited Miles’ support for the energy company’s pending application before the Maryland Public Service Commission to raise electric rates over the next several years. 

Miles’ support was most-visibly rendered in an April 25, 2021, virtual public hearing before the Public Service Commission. During that meeting she praised the energy utility company for providing electrical services to re-open the Mount Rainier Library, its work to install electric vehicle charging stations in the city, and enthusiastically urged the Public Service Commission to approve the rate change. The case is under consideration.

Mount Rainier might endorse Medicare for All Act

Mount Rainier City Council is considering joining a growing list of local governments to endorse a congressional plan to expand Medicare. The measure to support a partisan congressional proposal – the Medicare for All Act is a proposal from Democratic legislators – is notable in Prince George’s normally non-partisan city governments. 

The measure was introduced by Mount Rainier Mayor Celina Benitez at the city’s June 15, 2021 City Council meeting, who noted the partisan, all Democratic Prince George’s County Council had issued a similar resolution. In introducing the measure, Benitez said the pandemic underscores the need for a healthcare reform. 

“It’s not just the fact that Covid has been a problem,” said Benitez. “It has highlighted a lot of the areas that need help in the healthcare system.”

The measure seems to have support from most of the rest of City Council, who each offered brief remarks indicating at least conceptual support of Benitez’s resolution. 

Only Councilor Luke Chesek had reservations, saying “I’m just not necessarily there yet on this.”. In a three-minute discourse in which Chesek noted he once wrote a paper on health law policy in law school and also reads long-form journalism on the topic, he contrasted Medicare with insurance options available under the existing Affordable Care Act.