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.

Who would live at Cafritz? Perhaps County Council Member Eric Olson’s first thought is worth revisiting–an active 55+ community might be interested in the town homes, condos and apartments proposed at the last set of meetings. Our county has relatively few 55+ developments. Take a look at our county’s age distribution.* You’ll note a bubble approaching 55, but where have all our boomers gone?
Age Estimate Percent
Age 0 – 4 65,691 7.67%
Age 5 – 9 60,988 7.12%
Age 10 – 14 63,164 7.38%
Age 15 – 17 37,838 4.42%
Age 18 – 20 40,776 4.76%
Age 21 – 24 48,374 5.65%
Age 25 – 34 116,029 13.56%
Age 35 – 44 131,920 15.41%
Age 45 – 49 66,485 7.77%
Age 50 – 54 58,694 6.86%
Age 55 – 59 50,890 5.95%
Age 60 – 64 38,836 4.54%
Age 65 – 74 46,255 5.40%
Age 75 – 84 22,035 2.57%
Age 85 and over 7,997 0.93% Source: Claritas, 2007.
Think about it—if we are to approve a zoning change, discarding the current single family homes and allowing mixed-use, higher density development, it has to be with the special circumstances, constraints and opportunities unique to this site in mind. Our schools are overcrowded with nothing solid in the CIP pipeline. The nature of high-density development’s typical residents—fewer families with children—may be a sound argument in some areas. But in the Cafritz Property’s immediate neighborhood, it is not clear that this argument holds true.

Economic realities also must be considered: the condo market has tanked, sales at other Route 1 developments have languished and credit is harder to come by–for us and developers. Infrastructure investments are necessary to accommodate current residents. Do we have the community will and the fiscal means necessary to make solid, sustainable infrastructure improvements to create truly transit-oriented development?

*Edited 9/10, table was incomplete previously.


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

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