What’s the Hurry?

The Landy property is located behind the Mall at Prince George’s and along Belcrest Road. The proposed multi-family development will have 1100-1,341 apartments and 2,669 parking spaces in several towers, including a 16-story building. Approval from the neighboring Hyattsville is contingent upon annexing this property to Hyattsville.

Sarcasm Alert. We are curious. The original Landy Property staff report was completed in 2001. Years pass, babies are born, they begin kindergarten, then first grade, University Town Center’s retail nears completion and finally, developer Marvin Blumberg returns to his Landy project. He puts together plans, no one is thrilled, but things are moving. Then it is placed on the Planning Board’s agenda for May 10, 2007 and he requests a continuance. No biggie, it has been years in the works.

Summer approaches, school’s ending, those first graders have lost their front teeth and families head out of town for a vacation. Then–whoops–we are on the fast track again. Blumberg just met with the University Hills Civic Association (those folks are not happy), but plans another meeting for June 19 (this time it is public). Why? Oh, the M-NCPPC Staff Report is due June 27 and if he’s lucky, things will fall into place, and he will have an approval July 12 from the Planning Board. Umm…you don’t think he’d pull a fast one while you are at the beach, do you?

You do? Well, then write or call your council person today. Mark the meeting at St. Mark’s on your calendar and plan to attend, tell your friends and neighbors. Live nearby and not looking forward to a 16-story tower and 2600 more cars in your neighborhood? Then file as a Person of Record (regarding DSP-99048/01), it takes about five minutes max. Mr. Parker of the Planning Board cares about Prince Georgians, he’d like to hear from you.

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14 Comments

Filed under Hyattsville, Landy Property, Ugly, University Park

14 responses to “What’s the Hurry?

  1. David

    They call it an adequate public facility ordinance:
    http://www.smartgrowth.umd.edu/research/pdf/NCSG_APFOMaryland_041906.pdf
    They don’t just build the projects and see what happens to the schools, roads, sewers, rivers, etc. Developers pay impact fees which fund school construction.

  2. That’s right, David. But that does not mean that the impact fee will be spend here. The county can use it anywhere.

    We have to insist that schools and traffic remediation takes place here.

    The elementary schools are already overcrowded. Now the state requires us to provide preschool. The middle schools are overcrowded and supposedly we are 3000 seats short in highschool.

    I am in favor of development but I also want a good education for my children. We can have both if we insist on it.

    Smart developers will join us.

  3. David, thanks, but that link is already up on our Resources page and I suspect most readers are aware of impact fees. In Districts 2 & 3 there are very few suitable sites for schools. IF the county chooses to spend the impact fees here, it will still be tough to locate a school site. The “NW county high school” ended up in Bowie. Deasy has indicated he may be willing to convert existing buildings to school use but he does have his hands full at the moment.
    The issue re: Landy is the odd timing. Though relieved of the burden of a traffic study by virtue of its close location to a Metro, there are still a large # of parking spaces planned. The final staff report is unlikely to include any input from PGCPS and PGCPS Pupil Accounting does not plan for students until they enroll. Thus, leaving area parents justifiably worried.

  4. Does proximity to Metro really relieve “the burden of a traffic study”?

    School sites may be scarce but this Landy project is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re talking about 16,000 new units or so in this area. Rosapepe and Co. are planning a charter high school and Eric Olson is reexamining the possibility of a school at the old Friends school. School sites will be found. We should be much more concerned about the rapid pace gentrification in DC that is pushing poverty into PG county at an unprecedented rate.

  5. The timing isn’t odd. The real estate market is odd and a fickle PG planning board doesn’t help the situation.

  6. Matt M.

    One should point out that Blumberg already has approval for massive towers at that site. The plan approved years ago was for two buildings, each with two big ugly box-towers. This plan breaks up the skyline better, by creating two buildings with several towers rather than big boxes.

    Also, look at a topo map…relative to University Hills, the property is being built at a much lower elevation. 16 stories doesn’t stick up so high, when your foundation is so low.

    The units that are in the new plan are also of a type that can more easily be turned into several tiers of luxury condos. The approved plan (the old one) packed in more, much smaller units that could not be converted to very marketable condos.

    Do we really want him to build following the first plan? He already has it approved…

    I understand the concerns about roads, but it seems to me that we have a choice between already approved, big ugly, street-clogging, multi-unit apartment towers, and somewhat more aesthetically pleasing, street-clogging, multi-unit apartment (upgradeable to condo) towers.

  7. jeuill

    Here’s an idea. Why not build schools “up?” Who said schools had to be spread out on 10 or 20 acres? What about a 6 or 7 story school with about 3 acres for recess? Aren’t there schools in NYC like that?

  8. Hellmut

    I agree with Jeuill about building up. At the same time, there are limits. The research is pretty clear that schools with more than 800 seats seldom work.

  9. Michelle

    I am not against development. I believe PG County needs new, upscale development, especially within walking distance to the metro. However, I don’t want the development to happen only at the whim and desire of each developer. PG County needs a comprehensive plan regarding growth and a process which allows for road and school development to occur at the same time. We know this currently does not occur.

    As a resident, I want to raise the long-term issues, to keep them on the radar of the decision-makers for each project.

    Everything about development and growth is political. The comments above are not idle speculation. It does not matter if a developer pays the school impact fee, if the money is not used to mitigate overcrowding at the schools within the development district. To expand on the high school situation, the school district was actively looking for a site to build a new HS within our district. Political pressure moved the project to Bowie, even though they are experiencing (and projected to experience) less overcrowding than our district. This was not just a matter of also building a HS in Bowie — more than a year later, there is no current proposal for a new HS in our district.

  10. At least in Howard County they build a school anywhere in the county and then shuffle around the school districts to reduce overcrowding. There are plenty of plans for growth in PG county and there is a very sophisticated system of zoning, impact fees, public review, and so forth. From my understanding, the lack of new schools in the area is partly a matter of lack of available land.

    Also, it’s no longer a matter of road development in this area as most of the highways are built out. More an more its going to be an issue of dense infill development and access to mass transit. Living inside the beltway, you shouldn’t really expect anything less.

  11. sandye

    Successful development which I support requires planning and infrastructure. No matter where we live inside or outside the beltway we need to have available opportunities to travel easily from one place to another. Wouldn’t it be wise to first study how our transportation systems currently meet our needs, then assess the impact of proposed developments? Isn’t it better to mitigate prior to new development? As our transportation systems cross political boundaries this must be a regional issue. All the developments under construction and in the planning phases that would impact traffic on Adelphi Road, East West Highway and Route 1 need to be included.
    I am interested in knowing how Montgomery County and neighboring jurisdictions prepare transportation upgrades to handle new development and who pays for the upgrades. If you have information on this, please respond. Sandye

  12. Dan

    Why not modify the Landy (and/or Cafritz) plans to include an elementary school on site? In the case of the Landy development, at least, there certainly will be many elementary school-aged kids in the immediate vicinity who would benefit from being able to walk to and from class. Moreover, if designed and financed right, such a prospect could have the potential to benefit the developer, not just the public.

  13. Linda Keenan

    As other posters have said, the Landy residential development will put pressure on schools that are already overcrowded. The County should definitely look at some of this property for a school.

    Instead of budgeting to buy suitable land for school development, in recent years, the County school system has cannibalized park properties, because they’re free.

    My neighborhood lost most of its park (Adelphi Hills Park, which at the behest of the neighborhood had been purchased with Open Space funds) to an elementary school (Mary Harris “Mother Jones”) built to take overflow from the Langley Park area.

    When the school system was looking for a site for a north county high school, they selected four for consideration: the Cafritz property, and three parks. Their preliminary analysis led them to designate Buck Lodge Park as the best of the park sites.

    The neighborhoods of Buck Lodge, Adelphi Hills and College Park Woods and Cool Spring are opposed to removing parkland for schools. It doesn’t happen in Montgomery County and it shouldn’t happen here. Once that parkland is gone, we can never get it back.

    Back to the Landy property. If the development is to be residential, all of the people moving into residences there will have cars. It’s ludicrous not to require a traffic study. However, Prince George’s County needs more employment, not more residences. Why isn’t the County steering things towards business development so that County residents have the opportunity to work inside the County instead of commuting out of it?

  14. SnowMiser

    The county could also use what is now the tennis courts at Northwestern HS for an elementary school, if it were combined with a small chuck off of the Landy land.

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