Author Archives: Route 1 Growth

East Campus Committee Update & Meeting

The final East Campus community input meeting takes place Monday, January 28 at 7:30. The group will discuss principles to guide the East Campus development. We strongly encourage members of surrounding communities to attend and to pass any questions to a community rep. Committee contact info here.

Foulger-Pratt/Argo, the developers of the East Campus project, made a number of presentations to the Committee and public during the fall and finished with a discussion of their traffic study in mid-January. These presentations focused on their schematic design and assumptions for various parts of the project: design, environmental impact, uses, parking, traffic impact, etc. The word schematic is the operative principle here; the developers have not presented much in terms of the actual design of the site. The lack of hard facts on the development posed problems for the Steering Committee since there has not been enough information to really give much feedback or approval of the total project.

In response to this dilemma, Douglas Duncan, UMD’s Vice President for Administrative Affairs and the University’s lead on the project, altered the scope of the Committee’s work to have the Committee provide principles to guide the planning, design and development of East Campus by Foulger-Pratt/Argo. After a plan is available, the Committee will re-group and review the project, likely when the developers are ready to submit their plans to the M-NCPPC.

There have been some glimmers of hope: Continue reading

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Filed under College Park, Community, Developers, East Campus, Public Input, Route 1 Corridor

Schools, Purple Line Mtg. 12/17

and Other Important Odds & Ends

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The Purple Line Open House will discuss the entire route and should be interesting. Especially since it seems a new southern route for the Purple Line through campus has surfaced. Map here. However, if this proposal is presented Monday, MTA, UMD and our elected officials need to allow further public input prior to moving forward. A week before Christmas is hardly an ideal meeting date and too much is riding on getting this right.

Prince George’s County Public Schools have released information about the changes necessary to accommodate a county-wide move to PreK-8th grade schools. PGCPS has settled on Version 22 of the plan. The Board of Education could take this up Thursday, January 24. The plan would be implemented in three phases. Check for your school here: choose from the drop-down menu. Several iterations may be offered, and some maybe erroneous, look at Changes and Proposed. We’ll wait to see if and when the Board provides an opportunity for community input. But you could nudge by writing the Board.

The Maryland Transportation Plan needs your input. Secretary John Porcari says: “I am very excited that the Maryland Department of Transportation will be revisiting the Maryland Transportation Plan (MTP) over the next year to update the State’s vision for transportation.” Don’t not let him down, fill out their survey.

The Route 1 Development Forum presentation by Park & Planning has been posted. It is a large file and will take a few minutes to load, but if you missed this meeting, is very much worth viewing. Yup, we really believe you’ll be examining that rather than your gift list. It is valuable though, maybe you can take a look during the post-holiday doldrums.

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Filed under Developers, Environment, Growth, Public Input, Public Transit, Route 1 Corridor, Schools

Give a Gift To Our Economy: Shop Locally Owned This Holiday Season

by Stacy Mitchell

Our successful event with Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher with the New Rules Project, a couple weeks ago did not yield viable audio, but we can offer the slide show (you will need to hit pause between slides) and the article below which makes many of the points discussed. And to help you shop locally, check out Buy Indie.

Whether to patronize a chain or a locally owned business is not top of mind for many holiday shoppers, but it should be. It’s a choice that has profound implications for our economy.

If you shop at an independent toy store, such as Be Beep in Annapolis, Maryland, you will likely see products made by Beka, a small toy manufacturer in St. Paul, Minnesota.

A family-owned business, Beka has opted not to sell to chains like Target and Wal-Mart. Doing so, explains co-owner Jamie Kreisman, would require moving production to low-wage factories overseas, which would eliminate what he and his brothers most love about the business: their relationships with their employees and working hands-on with their products.

Beka is healthy, but its future depends entirely on the survival of independent toy stores. Over the last decade, Wal-Mart and Target have aggressively overtaken this sector and now capture 45 percent of U.S. toy sales. Continue reading

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Filed under Community, Growth, Local Economy, Retail, Route 1 Corridor

Heads Up on Schools

j0401120-small.jpgA couple time-sensitive items about schools for readers to follow:
On Monday, December 3, tune to WAMU radio (88.5 FM). Dr. John Deasy joins Kojo Nnamdi in the studio live from noon to 1:00 pm. Likely topics include a preview of the planned PreK-8 restructuring of county elementary and middle schools. We may hear his strategy for addressing the looming state budget shortfall for school year 2008-09. Listen here.

On Monday evening, the PGCPS Board of Education will formally accept for “first reading” one of three plans for this PreK-8 restructuring initiative. This meeting is not open to public comment but, rather, an administrative hand off between Superintendent Deasy and school board members. (See item 15 on 12/3 agenda.) The ensuing boundary changes accompanying any of the selected plans will concern many Route 1 communities. The plan will identify possible schools for expansion of the popular language immersion, Montessori and arts education programs. View the plan after the meeting at the PGCPS board agenda website.

Stay on top of school issues in the northern region by joining this listserve. We understand that once the Board accepts a plan for the first reading, public review and comment will begin. And we expect this to be lively. Look for a schedule of meetings, perhaps as early as December, in neighborhoods to review and discuss the boundary changes that will accompany adoption of the PreK-8 initiative.–MbS & CH

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Reminder: Stacy Mitchell on Connecting Retail & Growth to Community

State Street, Madison WIWednesday, November 28
7 pm Refreshments
7:30 pm Talk & Discussion
Hyattsville City Hall

4310 Gallatin St., Hyattsville MD 301-985-5000
Remember, we invited you? Join us.
As growth in the Route 1 corridor accelerates, what can we learn from other communities? How can we avoid becoming Anyplace USA? Can we use retail as a catalyst for good community development? How can local governments avoid retail sprawl and build a vibrant local business economy? From innovative small-business initiatives to cutting-edge land-use policies, Mitchell offers communities concrete strategies that can create a more prosperous and sustainable future. More on our Events page.

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Filed under Community, Events, Growth, Local Economy, Retail, Route 1 Corridor

Infrastructure & Good Neighbors

“Infrastructure,” says Goldhagen, summing it all up, “is where architecture and politics merge.”

So architectural historian Sarah Goldhagen wraps up a recent and provocative interview with the Boston Globe that is essential reading if you care about infrastructure. And, we know you do.

Goldhagen says to think of it as a detective story. A bridge collapses in Minnesota. A steam pipe explodes in New York. Water in some cities is found to contain lead…Schools have boarded-up windows but don’t have books…It’s like an Agatha Christie mystery.

But this is much scarier than anything Christie wrote. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, our nation’s infrastructure is barely making the grade, and is mediocre at best.

What, exactly, is infrastructure? For Goldhagen, it’s everything we build that is meant to serve the public: highways, streets, bridges, tunnels, sidewalks, transit systems, utilities of all kinds, parks, soccer fields, even public schools and colleges.

She says we need to think of it all as one integrated whole, and then ask who’s taking care of it. No one, it turns out.

That last sentence is why the Route 1 Growth working group came together. Infrastructure is not sexy, it costs a lot and is, if things are working well, invisible. But it is critical to our quality of life.

We are way behind the curve, probably about ten years and that may be a conservative estimate–and that’s before the 7,600 new residential units. Let’s look at schools. The need is identified, put into the funding cycle (or not), then a site needs to be identified and purchased, the plans prepared, and the project bid and constructed. Roads and transit are similar. Continue reading

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Filed under Cities and Towns, Elected Offcials, Infrastructure, Public Transit, Retail, Roads

Listen Up

anm8e2d3838157781f9.gifThe standing room only Route 1 Development Forum hosted by Council Members Campos, Dernoga and Olson began a conversation that is long overdue in our area, gathering our elected representatives with planners, school and state highway officials in one room to talk with their constituents about growth. Unsurprisingly, schools and traffic surfaced as the community’s main concerns.

M-NCPPC Planner Coordinator Chad Williams quickly ran down the numbers for the 7-miles of the Route 1 corridor: 61,630 well-educated people in 20,790 dwelling units spread across stable neighborhoods. While unemployment is lower than the county average, the poverty level is above average. According to M-NCPPC, due to the University of Maryland, the area’s demographic skews younger and in some cases, poorer, than the county average.

Filed and in the development pipeline, 7,600 more units, with perhaps a total of 15,000 dwelling units including residential or mixed use projects still in the early planning stages (Cafritz, East Campus, etc.). Over 7 million square feet of retail and office space is built, under construction or planned.

While some student housing will be excluded from the school surcharge meant to fund new schools, PGCPS uses this student yield formula: multiply .44 by the number of residential units. Using the conservative number of 7,600 units, we get a yield of 3,344 new students in an already overcrowded region.

During the presentation and audience Q & A, the State Highway Administration SHA) and Prince George’s County Public Schools representatives indicated what a huge disconnect there is between our planners’ priorities and the community’s. The SHA rep suggested that traffic might be best alleviated by support for the I-95/UMD Connector, a remark that went over like a lead balloon. County and state traffic planners acknowledged that with upgrades proposed for Route 1 between Eastern Avenue and the Beltway take place, no new capacity will be gained for the corridor.

The planned improvements do not include the entire Route 1 corridor or where major new developments are under consideration, e.g., between Riverdale Park/Hyattsville and College Park. Failed intersections such as Route 1 and 410 also will not be addressed. Continue reading

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Filed under Community, Elected Offcials, Events, Growth, Public Input, Schools, Traffic

You’re Invited: Connecting Retail & Growth to Community

j0430638.jpgwith Stacy Mitchell of the New Rules Project
Wednesday, November 28
7 pm Refreshments , 7:30 pm Talk & Discussion
Hyattsville City Hall, 4310 Gallatin St., 301-985-5000

Given the fast pace of new projects in the Route 1 corridor, we th0ught it might be time for us to step back, draw a breath and look at how retail can be used creatively to build strong communities. Retail is a key component of the many redevelopment projects underway. What are the best practices? How have other regions handled rapid growth or redevelopment? Please join us for a conversation about the Route 1 area’s retail future. (This is a great follow-up to the 11/15 event on comprehensive planning.)

Stacy Mitchell is a passionate advocate for communities and their local economies. Our regular readers may be familiar with Stacy Mitchell’s books and probably have noticed we have republished articles from her newsletter, The Hometown Advantage. Mitchell works with small business groups, elected officials and community organizations and local governments to strengthen locally owned businesses. She advises on new land use and economic development policies. Mitchell is a senior researcher with the New Rules Project, a program of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. She chairs the American Independent Business Alliance and is the author of Big-Box Swindle and Hometown Advantage.
Download flier to email. Download flier to copy.
Presented by Route 1 Growth, Route 1 area communities and community development corporations from Eastern Ave. to the Beltway. Refreshments courtesy of County Council Members Will Campos & Eric Olson.

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Filed under Community, Events, Growth, Local Economy, Retail, Route 1 Corridor

Ah, Route 1 on the Riviera

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We are back from our luxurious sojourn on the Riviera where we never thought a bit about traffic on Route 1, pedestrian safety, transit, TIFs and school seats.

OK, we lied. We have been thinking and meeting incessantly about all of the above and just have not had time to report back. So, a quick round up of the last 45 days in no particular order follows.

Purple Line excitement. At the MTA Purple Line focus group meeting, UMD Athletic Director Debbie Yow came out in favor of the Purple Line in a big way. But she insists it be on Stadium Dr. because of the 60-70 special events each year, rather than on Campus Dr. which is MTA’s preferred alignment. But students need to get to class everyday. This seems to be a point that she and Dan Mote, an alleged supporter of the Purple Line, have yet to grasp. The UMD administrators parroting the party line angered local residents at the meeting.

East Campus community input meetings continue. Continue reading

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Filed under Community, Infrastructure, Public Input, Public Transit, Tax Relief, Traffic

Ann Arbor Lessons

As we contemplate the changes that East Campus will bring to College Park, it is worth learning from other college towns. Insights into a Lively Downtown may provide both ideas for remaking the existing downtown and the correct scale for East Campus. This runs 20 minutes and sometimes states the obvious…on the way to explaining why downtowns tick.

Thanks to Kirk Westphal, University of Michigan urban planning 2006 graduate, for posting this. Westphal’s description–
What makes a downtown district appealing? Why do people go out of their way to walk down one side of the street and not the other? Using the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan as a case study, this exploration of successful downtown streets weaves together pedestrian interviews with footage of streetscapes and sidewalk behavior to show what healthy blocks have in common.

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Filed under Community, Design, Downtown, Local Economy, Planning, Retail

Send Your Cafritz Input!

email-lady.jpgWell, what did you think? Let the Cafritz team and Eric Olson know. Send your questions and concerns to info@cafritzpop.com and send a cc to Eric Olson (this is a request from Olson’s office). Just click the Email Lady! Live outside District 3? Check here for addresses.

  • Is the density right for this area?
  • Are there too many units?
  • What did you think of the scale of the project?
  • What about the buildings’ height? What is an acceptable number of stories?
  • Are the buildings’ locations tolerable for adjacent neighborhoods?
  • Square footage–is it too much? Cafritz’s 225K + East Campus’ 500K + Univ. Town Center’s 225K + EYA’s 30-50K. That’s a lot of space and there is more mixed use coming up and down Route 1.
  • How did you feel about the parking garages?
  • Access to this project–is it livable for surrounding communities?
  • Traffic–is it a deal breaker?
  • How many trips will be generated by various uses?
  • And schools?

Most importantly, is this a zoning change that should happen? Read about the zoning process here , but since this is a little out of date, take a look at current classes of zoning here. Let us know what you are thinking in the comments or email us at route1growthATgmail.com.

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Filed under Cafritz Property, Community, Developers, Public Input, Route 1 Corridor

East Campus: Our Local Economy & Independent Merchants

The East Campus Steering Committee will meet Thursday to discuss uses (residential, retail, hotel & office) and market feasibility. Agendas and materials for this and past meetings are also available, just click on the topic. You may find the market study, though somewhat flawed, and lessons learned from Silver Spring worth browsing. The preliminary plan indicates lots of chains and that’s worth careful examination in terms of character and contributions to our community. This pertinent article is reprinted with kind permission from The Hometown Advantage Bulletin, a free email newsletter published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. To read back issues or join the mailing list, visit here.

While many parts of the country are overrun with chain stores, San Francisco remains a stronghold for locally owned businesses, according to a new study, which also found that those local stores generate sizable benefits for the city’s economy.

The San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Association (SFLOMA), one of the sponsors of the study, hopes it will spur residents to choose locally owned businesses more often and encourage cities in the region to re-examine policies that favor chains.

So far, “the response to the study and its publicity has been very encouraging,” said Rick Karp, owner of Cole Hardware and a co-founder of SFLOMA. In an editorial about the study, the San Francisco Chronicle concluded, “The message is clear: It’s time to shop local.”

The study, titled “The San Francisco Retail Diversity Study,” was conducted by Civic Economics, the firm that produced two ground-breaking and frequently cited studies—one in Austin and another in Chicago—that measured the economic impact of locally owned businesses versus chain stores.

The San Francisco analysis builds on this earlier research. It examines retail spending in a region that includes the city of San Francisco and three adjacent suburbs: Daly City, Colma, and South San Francisco.

It begins by calculating the market share of independents and chains in several categories: bookstores, sporting goods stores, toy stores, and casual dining restaurants.

In all four categories, the study found that independents capture a much larger share of consumer spending in the region than they do nationwide. Locally owned bookstores in the San Francisco area, for example, capture about 55 percent of book sales. Internet retailers account for 19 percent of the market and chain bookstores, including Borders and Barnes & Noble, have about 15 percent. Nationally, independent bookstores account for just 10 percent of book sales.

Independent sporting goods stores in the San Francisco area likewise capture 56 percent of sales in that category, while independent restaurants have almost two-thirds of the casual dining market. Locally owned toy stores account for 44 percent of toy sales, while specialty toy chains, general merchants like Target, and internet retailers capture the rest.

In all four categories, the study found that independent retailers were much stronger in the city itself than in the three adjacent suburbs. Local bookstores accounted for less than 12 percent of book sales in the suburbs. Independent toy stores fared even worse with just 3 percent of the suburban market.

The second part of the study analyzes the impact on the city’s economy of shopping at locally owned businesses versus chains. It finds that $1 million spent at independent bookstores creates $321,000 in additional economic activity in the region, including $119,000 in wages and salaries paid to local employees. That same $1 million spent at chain bookstores generates only $188,000 in local economic activity, including $71,000 in local wages and salaries.

Independent toy stores, sporting goods stores, and restaurants likewise create substantially more local economic activity for every $1 million in sales than their chain counterparts, according to the study.

Much of the difference in economic impact is due to two factors. One is that the chains have some of their management, marketing, and other functions carried out at corporate headquarters and therefore employ fewer people locally per unit of sales. In the toy category, for example, for every $1 million in sales, independent stores create 2.22 local jobs, while chains create just 1.31.

The other factor is that the local retailers spend more of their revenue buying goods and services at local businesses such as print shops, accounting firms, web design companies, banks, and so forth. Chains have little need for these local goods and services; many of the dollars that flow into their outlets instead leave the region.

The final part of the study looks at the effect on the city’s economy if residents were to shift the balance of their spending between chains and local businesses by just 10 percent. Continue reading

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Filed under Community, Developers, East Campus, Local Economy, Public Input, Retail, Traffic

Cafritz: Doing the Math

The next meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 18 from 7-9 pm and we urge you to attend. Questions you may wish to consider in forming an opinion are here. Here’s a summary of the Cafritz presentation, mostly by the numbers:

  • 40-50,000 sq. feet, medium-sized grocery near Route 1 (no brand commitment)
  • 150-225,000 sq. feet of retail
  • 15-20 stores
  • 3 parking garages (6 stories?)
  • 1500-2000 housing units to include a mix of multi-family styles and town homes, housing for international scholars and seniors
  • no single family detached homes per current zoning of R-55
  • 8-12 story buildings (located closer to the tracks, of course)
  • boutique hotel
  • 3 access points–off of Route 1 (Van Buren and Underwood) and somewhere from the south
  • LEED-ND guidelines development

Traffic: their solution is still top-secret due to negotiations with property owners (prior presentation here ). Grocery stores generate about 102 trip per 1000 sq. feet. (If it is an upscale store not found nearby, the number may be higher.) But that’s about 4,000-5,000 trips each day with 400-500 per hour during the afternoon rush.

Schools: use the same student yield formula as the school system, multiply .44 by the number of residential units. If you check the new CIP that is scheduled to be approved this week, you’ll notice that a Hyattsville area elementary school and high school have been delayed again. Both lack sites.

Retail: This amount is worth exploring in a larger Route 1 context. Where does the Cafritz project’s 200,000 sq. feet of retail + East Campus’ 500,000 sq. feet of retail leave our town centers that are struggling to revitalize or redevelop? Say I want to open a new independent business–where should I locate?

Do I choose space that is newly built out, up to code, ADA compliant with energy efficient HVAC and other systems, in a location offering critical retail mass and the valuable allure of the new…possibly with discounted rent (as mentioned Saturday)?

Or do I locate in the Riverdale Park struggling-to-revitalize town center with few healthy retail neighbors–but lots of historic character in older, perhaps dilapidated structures and space requiring expensive code updates and more before occupancy?

For a business person, this is a no-brainer. For Riverdale Park residents hoping to see the farmers market’s energy spread to those vacant buildings, this project should raise some serious concerns. What kind of retail do we want and need? Do we want these retail neighbors (from Cafritz retail consultant’s site)? Continue reading

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Filed under Cafritz Property, Developers, Environment, Events, Public Input, Route 1 Corridor

Meet Mac Alpine, or Past Lives of the Cafritz Property, Part 1

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You can still see the old gate posts at the corner, hidden by a holly bush and a stand of bamboo. One post says Calvert, while the other reads Mac Alpine. They mark the entrance to Mac Alpine, the mansion once located at Route 1 and Albion Road.

I spent time in the University of Maryland archives this summer. I wanted to know more about this historic property that straddled the Cafritz and WMATA (Metro) parcels. Both are part of Riverdale Park. However, Albion is the southern boundary of the Calvert Hills neighborhood of College Park. Albion lies on a slope that crests at the Amherst-Pineway-Queen’s Chapel Road intersection and is known as Cat-Tail Hill. As recently as the 1970s, children sledded down Cat-Tail Hill. Here, the three “Parks” meet.

During my research, I was surprised to find a paper written in 1934 documenting much of the history and construction of Mac Alpine on Cat-Tail Hill.

Picturing Mac Alpine & Cat-Tail Hill
The paper includes a carefully rendered drawing (click for full image) noting an old “Indian burial ground” near the property of the Mac Alpine house at the corner of Route 1 and Albion Road. Three slave dwelling locations are also marked. A number of small outbuildings are indicated, including two well heads, several barns, an ice house and other farm structures.

What does this 1934 primary source mean for development of the Cafritz property? In 2005, Prince George’s County strengthened a key piece of historic preservation legislation. M-NCPPC now has this document in hand and will require a significant survey of the property by historic preservation professionals: specialists in archeology, anthropology, architectural history, historical agronomy, Prince George’s County culture and history. Continue reading

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Filed under Cafritz Property, Calvert Hills, College Park, Events, History, Riverdale Park

Our Fortunes & the Cafritz Family

fortune-cookie-small-small-wince.jpgThis weekend the Cafritz Property development team will unveil their concept plan for the 35.8 acre site.
Sat., Sept. 15 10-12 am
Tues., Sept. 18 7-9 pm
Riverdale Elementary School, 5006 Riverdale Road, Riverdale Park, MD.

Expect it to be heavy on retail and very dense. This site is just a couple acres smaller than East Campus…where 2000 units of housing and lots of retail are planned. We will be spared another round of “stations.” Instead, the team will make a short presentation followed by a lengthy questions and answer period. We hope for greater detail and substance than past presentations.

Our previous Cafritz posts may provide a starting place as you consider our community’s future. But we need to look beyond the Cafritz Property and to the growth taking place up and down the Route 1 corridor. The number of units, approved and planned, is truly amazing. Rethink College Park did a quick rundown almost a year ago and this does not include the recently approved Landy Property’s 1200 units and EYA’s expansion–or Univ. Town Center.

While the Whole Foods repeatedly mentioned by the team may belong somewhere nearby, it–and other destination retail–does not belong on this site. The site’s location, just north of the failing intersection of Route 1 and 410, makes this type of development unworkable. Access is limited–all vehicular traffic would end up on Route 1 alone. There is no alternate route. Those of you caught in the recent traffic jam that turned Route 1 from 495 to this property into a parking lot, may understand most clearly what our future could look like. A small amount of retail that is attractive to the immediate area may be tolerable, but anything more will simply cannibalize Riverdale Park, Hyattsville and College Park’s efforts to revitalize or redevelop their town centers. Continue reading

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Filed under Cafritz Property, Events, Infrastructure, Planning, Public Input, Route 1 Corridor, Sustainability