Mr. Blumberg’s Luxury Apartments

monopoly-houses-small.jpgAt Monday’s University Park town council meeting, Developer Marvin Blumberg, his attorney and landscape architect presented their most recent plans for the 34-acre Landy Property at Belcrest Road behind Northwestern HS. This is one big elephant.

A previous post provides a solid project description, but new, expanded or clearer information provided at the meeting is covered below. Please note that the Landy Staff Report (issued July 3) is now available for fun holiday reading and this uses a different number of units than mentioned in this recent meeting. Blumberg requested a continuance from the Planning Board, it is possible that 7/26 will be the new hearing date.

  • Upon completion 1262 one and two bedroom luxury apartments (presenters were unclear about any 3 bedroom units, county regs. would require these to be condo units) with 2000 bedrooms.
  • To ensure luxury, Mr. Blumberg’s most used descriptor, the entire property is to be fenced (no more than five feet high) and gated at three access points. The main access would be on Belcrest Rd. with another one onto Northwest Drive and a third, tradespersons only, access onto Dean Drive.
  • Mr. Blumberg does not think this development will attract folks with children. To further allay concerns about school overcrowding, he consented to set aside one third of the units for students and folks 55 and older.
  • The visual impact of Landy Project’s seven 16 story glass, steel and reinforced concrete towers will be huge, especially from Adelphi Rd. The Landy towers are about the same height as the University Town Center student suites, on Belcrest Road across from Target. To get a sense of size and scope of the Landy towers try to visualize seven UTCs in close proximity!

Most University Park council members’ questions covered school overcrowding concerns which Mr. Blumberg’s attorney assured us was an issue they have heard and sympathize with, but really they have very limited means to do anything about. At completion the Landy development will have paid Prince George’s County close to $8 million in impact fees. Sadly, now those fees simply go into the County’s general funds. We should question our elected officials as to why these funds can’t be earmarked for this area.

This project has no environmental sensibility aside from addressing water runoff issues and creating a minimum green barrier along its northern border. When asked whether this project was following any of the standards set by the US Green Building Council (LEED) in their design, Tim Madden, Mr. Blumberg’s architect said, no, that in buildings of this size attempting to go for a LEED certification is not feasible.

Mr. Blumberg said several times that he has an existing plan, approved by Prince George’s County in 2001, to construct a similar size structure in this location–that is, he admitted, a monstrosity. He says he hasn’t built that design because after it was approved the County challenged him to improve the design. But Mr. Blumberg followed up by saying that if the community does not approve of his new plan, he would be forced to build the previously approved one (though he currently rejects it). I appreciate his attempts to improve the project, but would like our community to be a respected participant in this process. While recognizing the rationale for higher density in our area, I hope we can resolve the problems the Landy Project creates, resulting in smart growth for all.–Sandy E.

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10 Comments

Filed under Developers, Events, Hyattsville, Landy Property, Planning, Schools

10 responses to “Mr. Blumberg’s Luxury Apartments

  1. Tom

    So basically this is your attempt to get people to turn against the revenue genrating Development that is already approved.

    What is your goals of speaking your views out against Upscale High Density Development in Hyattsville and PG County????????????????

  2. Tom, have you looked at the about page and the statement of principles? We favor smart and sustainable high density development and would simply like to see our county adopt a comprehensive planning process that includes community standards and input. We think it better to ask about infrastructure issues now, before kids are in even more overcrowded classrooms and gridlock sets in. And please note, this current plan has not been approved by the surrounding towns or the Planning Board.

  3. SnowMiser

    From their website it states:

    “Dwelling units are a mix of one and two-story, two and three bedroom units.”

    Yet all I keep hearing is 1-2 bedroom units.

    About the school issues…

    It is underestimating the influence that the developer could have by them suggesting they are limited by what they can do about the school overcrowding.

    -They can design their units to attract clients that would have a minimal influence over schools.

    – Set regulation on the # of child allowed by the living per unit. ie no 2 parent three, children families living a two or one bedroom.

    – They could dedicate space to schooling if they are so concerned.

    – They could back the community in proposals to the county on schooling issues. I would hope they would be concerned as well about the success of the schools to attact their clients.

    – Truely they are in the drivers seat on how many families with kids they attract. They could dedicate the whole darn project to people without kids, if they choose. To say they are limited is really misleading.

    On the fence…

    Having a giant fenced off community makes me nervous. 5 feet high means that it does not keep out criminals but does isolate it from the surrounding community. Large fences are not a sign of safe, viberate, and linked community.

    Personally, I like the project being upgraded, but feel there are some MAJOR elements that could do more harm to the community than provide benefits.

  4. John

    Here are some things I feel would make this huge property more pleasing.

    1. I like the idea of providing space for college students. This cuts down on te number of school-age children.

    2. Providing space for people aged 55 and above also cuts down on the number of children.

    3. For those residents who will have children, provide an on-site daycare facility.

    4. Provide a shuttle for students to UMD or the metro if they attend another university in the area.

    5. Provide a shuttle for those who wish to take the metro.

    6. Provide a convenience store that sells basic groceries and OTC drugs, dry cleaner, and small post office on site. I can only imagine the poor post office in UTC being overcrowded with so many new residents in UTC and the Landy property as well as people from out of the area in the offices.

    I think SnowMiser is correct. There is no need for a fence. I don’t think UTC or even the surrounding neighborhoods have so much crime that people will need to feel protected by a five foot fence. A parking gate is all that is needed so people can have their own parking spaces.

  5. Sam Snellings

    whoa, whoa, whoa.

    LEED is not “feasible” for buildings of that size? Talk about a complete falsehood. Plenty of very large buildings have managed to get LEED ratings, in fact, I would say that I personally can think of more large buildings than small ones that have gotten them!

    Not “feasible” is just code for “we don’t want to pay for it” and “low impact buildings are not a priority for us.”

    I can only think of a few LEED points that would be inconvenient the larger a building gets. However, you do not need all the points to get LEED certified and I would be very surprised if Morris and Ritchie Associates could show me that the exception of those few points would preclude a LEED certification.

    It probably doesn’t help that the architect doesn’t seem to have ever done a LEED building judging by the company’s portfolio.

  6. L. Waldrep

    Having attended the Univ. Park Town Council meeting, I too was a little disappointed in the project and the actual presentation. Granted, the new proposed project may be better than the 2001 project, but still could be much better.

    The presentation was very weak; they did not have answers to some of the questions and Mr. Blumberg actually had to get up and present.

    The lawyer started with stating that the property was in the transit overlay as it was close to Metro and for that reason the project was warranted yet why 1262 untis. If we are trying to get people to give up their cars, why still have all of those parking spaces – 2.o per unit.

    Regardless of any revenue it generates, the project should be scaled back considerably. Unfortunately, University View and University Tower and brought 14-16 story buildings to our backyard.

  7. Tom

    Route 1 Growth
    July 5th, 2007 at 7:02 am

    Tom, have you looked at the about page and the statement of principles?

    RE: Yes and it looks like the main goal to sabatoge any form of Northern Virginia/DC style of Upscale High Density Development in PG County and Montgomery County.

    Route 1 Growth: And please note, this current plan has not been approved by the surrounding towns or the Planning Board.

    RE: And what makes you believe that this project will Never be Built?????????????????????

    Do you prefer that PG County remain looking like an abandond Third World County with No High Paying Employment, Decaying Landmarks, and Residence leaving Maryland everyday to spend their Money at Upscale Retail Centers in Virginia/DC because the Political Psychos continue to sabatoge any form of Upscale Retail Growth in PG County?????????????????????

  8. Colin Phillips

    Many concerns have been raised about school overcrowding, and it would be great to have impact fees used for, well, impacts. But the proposed designs (see the staff report linked above) bear out the developers’ claim that they’re unlikely to attract many young families. The units are much larger than typical 1, 2, 3 bedroom condos on the market – around 50% larger than comparable units in University Town Center – and will presumably be priced accordingly. I wouldn’t expect many young families with the resources to afford one of these units to put this development high on their list. Similarly, it’s hard to see these being affordable or attractive to UM students. If there’s a market for this project at all, it’s a rather different demographic, and one that may indeed prefer a security fence to separate it from the big high school next door. I don’t much like the gated community aspect of the project myself, but the developers may have done their homework on this one.

    One can certainly debate the details of the buildings, the traffic impact, etc., and some interesting suggestions have been raised on this blog, but surely dense development close to metro stations is smart and environmentally sound. The environmental impact of this project is probably lower, on a per capita basis, than the single-family homes where many of us live. I was initially rather skeptical of this project, but since a large development is going to happen on this site anyway, and close to the zoned density, this one has a number of positives.

    (One more thing … contrary to Tom’s posts above, I think that this blog is doing an excellent job of getting good information to the community, and stimulating civil dialog. For sure there’s a clear editorial perspective – and for a slightly different perspective you can try out RethinkCollegePark for size – but the blog is constructive rather than obstructionist, and it is a valuable advocate for well-informed planning. Hats off to the editors.)

  9. The more isolated a development of this size becomes, the more residents will be forced to use their cars, and the worse traffic will become. Having as many pedestrian (and auto) connections as possible will a) reduce the car traffic the project creates and b) diffuse what traffic is created over several streets instead of concentrating it on a couple of arterial roads.

    Landy needs more than two entrances. It needs to connect to the mall, to UTC, to surrounding neighborhoods if possible. This is a development of urban density with a suburban layout – and, as designed, will seriously screw up its community. Blumberg should be ashamed to bring this in for review.

    And as for a LEED rating – the most energy-efficient thing would be to have smaller buildings that require less energy and have fewer enclosed spaces (hallways, lobbies, etc.) that you have to heat and cool. Even if the Landy buildings were “green” their huge size and auto-centric design negates any benefits that would come from it.

  10. Sam Snellings

    I disagree that any benefit from a LEED rating would be negated by the building’s size. The idea is not to build ‘small buildings’ that therefore use less energy as a result of their size, but to construct buildings that use less energy, use less water, use safer construction materials, have better indoor air quality, have better site selection, etc. etc. Just because a building is large does not mean that it cannot benefit from the 60+ recommendations that the U.S. Green Building Council makes when trying to achieve a LEED rating.

    In fact, I would argue that a LEED rating attached to a larger housing project is more beneficial than one attached to a smaller building – it allows efficiency to be generated for a larger number of people.

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