College Park Hollywood streets overhaul gets warm reception

Updated plans for a re-imagined streetscape for College Park’s Hollywood commercial district now omit a planned “fitness trail” once proposed for the project, but they retain significant enhancements to pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure in the heart of the city’s northern business hub. Chief among those design features are new bus shelters, the expansion of a concrete-curb-protected bike lanes on Rhode Island Avenue south of Edgewood Road, miniature parks with swingsets and stages in road blocks that were once dead-end service lanes. 

The meeting was attended by about two-dozen residents. During comments, most were broadly supportive of the plans, though there existed some quibbles about individual design elements. Mel Blain, owner of Posh Cycling and Fitness, said she is eagerly awaiting new city investment in the neighborhood. Her business fronts one of the planned mini-parks on the eastern edge of Rhode Island Avenue, which features a pavilion stage Blaine said her business could use to host yoga classes. 

“When I brought my business here I was told this streetscape was coming, and I really wanted to take advantage of it,” said Blaine after the meeting.

Tonight: Updated Hollywood streetscape plans unveiled

College Park residents will have a chance tonight to review and weigh in on updated plans for a complete re-imagining of the Hollywood neighborhood’s commercial streetscape. 

Tonight’s meeting will be an unveiling of the “60 percent” design plans, where more fleshed-out schemes will be discussed. The meeting will take place at 4912 Nantucket Road in College Park from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The project dates to 2015, when College Park hired a consultant to examine opportunities to enhance the public right-of-way in the Northern College Park neighborhood’s commercial center near Rhode Island Avenue and Edgewood Road. This area is home to a number of businesses, such as Proteus Bicycles and MOM’s Organic Market, that inhabit a mix of mid-century and earlier strip malls fronted by parking lots and a haphazard mix of pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure. The entire project, from engineering design through construction, is estimated to cost a combined $1.8 million. A $275,000 engineering contract was awarded to firm Sabra Wang and Assoc.

College Park considers financing options for new City Hall

At its Feb. 19, 2019, worksession, College Park City Council will discuss financing options for its planned $12.5 million City Hall. 

Most of College Park’s recent capital projects, except for the Knox Road parking garage, have been fully funded the year of the project, a pay-go system. But a large, multi-million-dollar project such as its new city hall is not suited for such financing. For one, it would cost nearly $14 million in one year for this project. Such an outlay would eat up most of the city’s budget in a given year.

A small suburban storefront is seen, it has clearly suffered a large fire. Charred debris litters the parking lot. The burned storefronts are boarded up with plywood, a van from a "Jenkins Restoration" company is parked outside, bearing the business phone number.

Required Reading: Arson woes for charity; Metro politics; Wet weather

Required Reading is a simple, daily roundup of news coverage from other outlets relevant to Prince George’s County and its Route 1 communities. In our Dec. 17, 2018, edition: A College Park charity for homeless kids finds itself in need after arson; Metro problems, Metro politics; And a call for more indoor play-spaces. College Park charity devastated by arson (WUSA)

Metro needs late night service, and to not catch on fire (Greater Greater Washington)

Metro struggles with privatization (The Guardian)

Route 1 needs an indoor playspace (The Hyattsville Wire)

Hyattsville’s Holiday Tree lighting makes the season bright (The Hyattsville Life and Times)

Prince George’s walloped by rain (WTOP)

A steel-framed box bridge, narrow, suited for pedestrians and cyclists, stretches across a shallow, narrow streambed. In the background, winter has stripped a forest of trees of its leaves. Behind the forest, an apartment high-rise is visible.

Big extension of Little Paint Branch Trail to open soon, link Beltsville to regional trail network

Major construction on an expansion of the Little Paint Branch Trail is expected to be finished later this month, according to Prince George’s County officials. The new extended trail will run for 2.2 miles alongside Cherry Hill Road from the trail’s present-day terminus in Northern College Park near Cherry Hill Road Park. A steel hiker-biker bridge has been built to cross the Little Paint Branch creek. From there it will parallel Cherry Hill Road and cross the Beltway on existing bridges before turning east onto Sellman Road where it hooks up to an existing trail stub at Little Paint Branch Park in Beltsville. 

Robert Patten, trail development program manager at Prince George’s County Parks, praised construction crews for their ability to rapidly make progress on the trail once construction started. In particular, he said the rate of construction was notable because of the heavy rains that have presented obstacles for work, particularly around the streambed where the bridge is built.

“We hope to open the trail in March or April.

The modernist facade of Prince George's County's Administration Building in Upper Marlboro.

Required Reading: Stadium limbo, dryer fires, and stadium tug-o-war

Required Reading is a simple, daily roundup of news coverage relevant to Prince George’s County and its Route 1 communities. In today’s edition: Terps win national championship, a fight over future Redskins stadium sites is brewing, and how far is too far for your county government? Terps win fourth NCAA mens soccer crown (ESPN)

Outbreak of dryer fires in Prince George’s sparks concern (WRC)

Academy of health sciences tops Maryland school achievement report (Washington Informer)

Bowser teams up with Republicans to win control of RFK campus (WAMU)

DC stadium opponents fight possible new Redskins stadium in DC (WTOP)

Hogan pitches National Harbor for Redskins stadium (Maryland Matters)

Prince George’s county seat is too remote for most residents (Greater Greater Washington)

Bowie city councilor to resign over health issues (Capital Gazette)

Cars drive along a moderately-congested Greenbelt Road, a six-lane suburban throughway overlooking a green horizon.

With Beltway Plaza redevelopment in play, a new vision for Greenbelt Road emerges

As long-term plans to redevelop Beltway Plaza gain inertia, economic development and planning officials are developing planning and policy strategies to reshape Greenbelt Road to be a more pedestrian, cyclist and transit-friendly corridor. Guiding those actions for now is a report compiled over the summer by the Urban Land Institute, released October 2018. 

“The Greenbelt Road corridor is at a crossroads. Like many suburban commercial areas, it has lost some business to newer, outlying shopping centers and grapples with some disinvestment and traffic congestion,” reads the report. “Many community members express a desire for a greater variety of retail, but there is no singular vision for how the area can attract that.” The full report can be read here.

A two-story greyish brick building stands on a corner lot in an older suburban streetscape. It adjoins a red single-story building that houses a retail storefront with a sign reading Hyattsville Vacuum Service. The sidewalk is cracked narrow, receding left to right into the distance. It is and stained from years of brick erosion. Infront of the buildings, at the corner crosswalk, is a crosswalk sign.

Developer buys prime Hyattsville properties, but plans uncertain

A developer has assembled a contiguous block of properties in downtown Hyattsville with the intention to redevelop it. The properties are just south of the EYA Arts District development and across the street from the proposed Hyattsville Armory development. But according to a senior Hyattsville economic development official, plans for the property have yet to be fleshed out. Further complicating matters are the city’s own long-term – but still fuzzy – plans for the area, such as a potential need for a new municipal building or parking garage. According to state property records, a series of holding companies registered to College Park resident Phillip Attia now owns the buildings fronting the eastern side of Baltimore Avenue’s 5200 and 5300 blocks.

Required Reading: School board leadership, Purple Line, Christmas tree blues

Required Reading is a simple, daily roundup of news coverage from other outlets relevant to Prince George’s County and its Route 1 communities. In our Dec. 6, 2018, edition: Prince George’s County School Board picks familiar leader; Update on the Purple Line; Don’t go, Wallace Loh; and the demise of a charity Christmas tree sale. 

Mike Franklin no longer owns Old Maryland Grill (Hyattsville Wire)

Thornton back at helm of Prince George’s School Board (The Washington Informer)

Purple Line partners talk Glenridge plans (Prince George’s Sentinel)

At State of the Campus, UMD President Loh criticizes Regents, touts campus improvements (The Diamondback)

TIF bonds issued for Westphalia redevelopment (Press release)

High prices fell Laurel Lions Club Christmas tree sale (Baltimore Sun)

College Park Council considers security camera subsidy for businesses (The Diamondback)

Legislators meet with UMD officials about football program (Diverse: Issues in Education)

Two senior lawmakers urge Loh to stay as UMD president (The Washington Post)