Low demand for College Park coronavirus relief

College Park set aside $1.7 million to assist residents and businesses dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. But so far, few have availed themselves of the grant program. According to city manager Scott Somers, the city has only processed 28 small-business assistance grants totaling $47,400 plus 18 family assistance program grants totaling approximately $6,200. “I was surprised at how low that was,” Somers said during College Park’s Aug. 4, 2020, City Council meeting.

As Prince George’s lags in Census response, a last-ditch push to be counted

With news that the Census may cut-short its door-to-door data collection, Prince George’s County officials are urging residents to take matters into their own hands and self-report their Census info by phone or online. Prince George’s County lags well behind state averages and behind other suburban-metro Maryland counties when it comes to Census response rates, with only an estimated 64.7 percent of county huoseholds responding as of Aug 3, 2020. Statewide, 66.9 percent of Marylanders have responded to the Census. 

Within Prince George’s County, areas inside the Beltway, such as Chillum, Langley Park, East Riverdale, Landover, and Hillcrest Heights, lag well behind other county Census tracts when it comes to Census response rates. Prince George’s County will host a covid-conscious Census completion and food, medical and school-supply distribution event at Ebenezer Church of God at 7550 Buchanan Street in Landover Hills on Aug. 8, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. During this event, county officials will provide free meals, backpacks, school supplies, personal protective equipment, Census swag and information.

Data: Coronavirus growing in rural Maryland

Coronavirus is on the rebound in Maryland and – to a lesser extent – in Prince George’s County, according to official state numbers. This surge in cases is being driven by growing outbreaks in rural areas of Maryland, according to an analysis by Route 1 Reporter. In particular, exurban communities in central Maryland and along the Chesapeake Bay’s western shores have seen the number of positive tests increase most-dramatically since July 1. Meanwhile, urban areas closer to Washington D.C., hard-hit by the virus early on, have seen far less-dramatic changes in the number of new positive coronavirus cases. !function(){“use strict”;window.addEventListener(“message”,(function(a){if(void 0!==a.data[“datawrapper-height”])for(var e in a.data[“datawrapper-height”]){var t=document.getElementById(“datawrapper-chart-“+e)||document.querySelector(“iframe[src*='”+e+”‘]”);t&&(t.style.height=a.data[“datawrapper-height”][e]+”px”)}}))}();

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As of July 21, Total cases have risen to 79,545 across the state, and include 3,402 deaths.

Prelim plans for Cheverly Amazon facility approved

Prince George’s County Planning Board unanimously approved preliminary plans for a massive Amazon warehouse facility just outside Cheverly. Built on nearly 18 acres of land, the project – dubbed Washington Gateway – will see a one-story, 172,200 square-foot “last mile distribution center” built near the intersection of Columbia Park Road and Cabin Branch Drive southeast of Cheverly. 

The vote took place at the Planning Board’s July 16, 2020 meeting. The project, from industrial developer Prologis, has been controversial in Cheverly, with neighbors in the town’s fourth word concerned about possible traffic impacts from the distribution facility. You can read more about their concerns here. Kayce Munyeneh, Cheverly’s Ward Four City Councilor noted a small neighborhood of 50 homes is near the site of the proposed facility. 

“Our primary concern is safety and making sure that Amazon trucks do not decide to use 62nd and 62st as a cut-through,” said Munyeneh during the meeting.

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.

Data: See which Prince George’s businesses got Paycheck Protection Loans

As the coronavirus delivered a shock to the local economy, 9,442 Prince George’s County businesses and nonprofits received emergency loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, including 1,447 loans valued between $150,000 to $10 million, according to data released by the Small Business Administration last week. Below this article, Route 1 Reporter presents a database that allows you to search for any Prince George’s County entity that received loans greater than $150,000 under the program. 

The official dataset has been criticized for not providing enough information about the loans. For example: information on loans greater than $150,000 identifies the recipients by name, but only provides a broad range for the loan each received, in buckets ranging from between $150,000 to $350,000 to the top-tier, which received loans of between $5 million and $10 million. Meanwhile, exact dollar amounts for loans less than $150,000 were noted for every recipient, but their names were kept under wraps. 

Additionally, transparency advocates – as well as many loan recipients – have complained the data released by the SBA contains inaccuracies. In particular, SBA officials said inconsistent data-collection practices show many loan recipients to reporting zero jobs were retained with the funds.

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. The biggest transaction of the quarter in the Route 1 corridor belongs to Varsity Apartments in College Park, which traded hands for $146,022,026 in a sale recorded March 27, 2020. The 900-bed property was bought by Greystar Properties from American Campus Communities. Greystar Properties also plans a 343-unit student housing development on Knox Road in College Park.

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.

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.