850 apartments, townhomes approved in Hyattsville

The Prince George’s County Planning Board unanimously approved detailed plans for a large mixed-use apartment complex with 850 units near University Town Center in Hyattsville. Dubbed the Dewey Development, the project will eventually encompass 21.6 acres near the intersection of Toledo and Belcrest Roads in Hyattsville and will feature townhomes, two mixed-use apartment buildings, and a large stormwater management pond that will collect runoff from the surrounding neighborhood. 

The votes, split across two measures, took place at the Planning Board’s July 16, 2020, meeting. One of the buildings will be a a five-story, mixed-use multifamily building consisting of 321 housing units and 1,258 square feet of ground-floor retail along Toledo Road. It also includes a 334-unit parking garage and a courtyard with a pool. The other half of the project features 529 multifamily units.

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.

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.

Hyattsville Mayor Candace Hollingsworth poses for a photo.

Hyattsville Mayor outlines 35 racial-equity policy goals for city

Shortly before Hyattsville City Council unanimously approved a resolution committing itself to enact policies defending black life and undoing the effects of systemic racism, Hyattsville Mayor Candace Hollingsworth published a blog post outlining a series of policies the city should pursue to accomplish an anti-racist agenda. “As Mayor of the city of Hyattsville, I believe I have had some great successes. I’ve been spending the last few days combing through what has been — until now — a nondisclosed agenda. By sharing, I am inviting you to join me as we work unapologetically to secure black futures,” wrote Hollingsworth. “The risk is that you will piss some people off but know that your legacy — whichever you choose — will be protected by those who love you.

A black metal gate bears a three-panel sign reading, top to bottom, "City of Hyattsville." In the background, bright green leaves.

Hyattsville tries to change Magruder Park’s racist deed

Hyattsville will try a unique legal strategy to remove segregationist clauses that still exist on the deed underlying Magruder Park. At its May 4, 2020, meeting, Hyattsville City Council unanimously approved a resolution directing city staff to work with outside attorneys to prepare a “quitclaim deed” for the park that would allow the city to remove the racially restrictive deed clause. 

The move comes more than a year after Hyattsville City Council directed city staff to research possible ways the deed could be amended or the name of the park could be changed. The May 4 resolution only focuses on amending the deed. The issue has been bubbling in Hyattsville’s civic discourse since Sept. 2018, when city resident Jim Groves proposed changing the name of the park because its namesake, prominent early 20-century Prince George’s landowner and politician William Pinkney Magruder, donated some of the land with a clause the restricting its use “for the Caucasian inhabitants only” of Hyattsville.