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.

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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.

Just in time: Mount Rainier closes $1.5M property sale

Just in time to avoid the possible collapse of the commercial real estate market, the City of Mount Rainier completed the sale of 3200 Rhode Island Avenue for $1.5 million to IFG Group Development and Construction. The property is approximately 33,000 square feet of vacant land the city bought more than 10 years ago for an inflation adjusted $1.1 million. IFG Group plans to build a $30 million mixed-use apartment complex. The transaction was scheduled to complete this past Friday. By Monday, the money had not yet shown up in the city’s accounts, causing some concern.

Mount Rainier sells land to developers; $30M mixed-use project planned

It finally happened: Mount Rainier is selling a key downtown lot to a mixed-use developer for $1.5 million, city officials announced during a March 3, 2020 Council meeting. The buyer, IFG Group LLC, plans to build a $30 million, 110-unit mixed-use development on the site, with a targeted opening date of 2025. 

More than 12 years ago in December 2008, Mount Rainier bought several parcels of land at the intersection of Eastern and Rhode Island Avenues for an inflation-adjusted $1.1 million. The property has mostly sat disused, though there were well-meaning attempts to turn the lots into a pocket park. For years, city officials had hoped to redevelop the land. But impacts from the Great Recession plus the city’s own inexperience in real estate development hampered plans. 

Councilor Luke Chesek said during the meeting that the city learned a lot from its previous failures to sell the land.

Mount Rainier eyes food truck extravaganza for 2020

Mount Rainier is planning a food truck event, perhaps as early as spring. The idea is to use the event to test demand and operational burdens for a potential food truck hub in Mount Rainier. However, the city is still working through the logistics involved with hosting a food truck hub. City officials first toyed with the idea in December 2018, but there remain significant logisitical, procedural and political challenges to address before Mount Rainier becomes a destination for vehicular restaurateurs and gormands. 

Politically, the city’s brick and mortar restaurants aren’t exactly wild about the idea of a food truck hub. Representatives of the Mount Rainier Business Association aired concerns that a food truck hub could bring a competitive burden for the city’s restaurants. 

“We’ve had five restaurants that have failed in Mount Rainier in the last five years, and we have three new restaurants coming up,” said Jimmy Tarlau, representing MRBA, during a discussion of food truck hubs at Mount Rainier City Council meeting Nov.

College Park backs booze for Taqueria Habanero

City officials are favorably disposed to Taqueria Habanero’s plans to serve alcohol at its College Park location. If all goes according to plan, the restaurant could be approved to serve boozy drinks on Baltimore Avenue by late December 2019. 

The restaurant’s application for a Class B Beer Wine and Liquor License was discussed by College Park City Council at its Oct. 22, 2019 worksession. Following a brief discussion, College Park City Council unanimously approved a measure expressing support for the restaurant’s liquor license application, which must be approved by the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners, more commonly known as the Liquor Board. The application goes before the Liquor Board Dec.