Prince George's County District Council approves rezoning for new development

The upscale supermarket could be the anchor retail tenant for the new development. Photo: ABC 7

A couple years ago, Keisha Primus was nervous to even drive her car on Route 1 through downtown Hyattsville.

"It was a little scary," she said. "Especially at night."

But Monday night Preimus was outside at the corner of Route 1 and Jefferson Street, eating with a friend and enjoying the cooler temperatures without any fear for her safety.

“I wouldn’t even come this direction, and now I come down here all the time,” she said.

Hyattsville is not the same place it was when Keisha used to avoid it. Thanks to rapid redevelopment, used car lots and empty storefronts have made way for places like Busboys and Poets, where Keisha was eating.

It’s surrounded by a host of other new stores and restaurants, with hundreds of housing units about to join them.

It’s a rebirth that’s going on up and down Route 1 in areas south and north of the University of Maryland in College Park.

North of the campus new businesses and high rises have replaced empty or dilapidated businesses, and there are plans for more new development just east of the campus on Rt. 1.

On Monday, the Prince George’s County District Council voted 7-2 for a rezoning that supporters say will lead to another great new development off Route 1, this time in Riverdale Park, a small community just south of College Park.

A developer wants to put in a big new mixed-use development slightly northeast of the intersection of Route 1 and East West Highway. Plans call for over 960 residential units, a hotel and a number of stores, including what would be Prince George’s County’s first Whole Foods Market.

"That's the kind of food store we're missing in this area. We don't have anything like that around here," said Berwyn Heights resident Paul Fontaine, who says a lot of the redevelopment going on in Hyattsville and College Park has been a positive thing for the area.

But not everyone is thrilled with this particular development.

Council member Eric Olson says much of the development going on along Route 1 in his district has been a great thing. But, he thinks this development has a number of flaws. He believes it is too far from the nearest Metro station and will increase road traffic too much. He also doesn’t think it fits in with the character of Riverdale Park.

“This is not an appropriate site for this massive of a development,” he told ABC7.

Although Olson voted no, only one other council member joined him, and the rezoning passed 7-2. Although the vote doesn’t guarantee the project will be built, it’s a huge step toward making it a reality.