Category Archives: Riverdale Park

Cafritz Conundrum

Well, the Cafritz family will be updating our community next Saturday on the status of their project. Whether our much sought “input” has been considered as they revised the project is debatable. Apparently, the number of residential housing units has been roughly halved, while the commercial space remains the same (or slightly expanded).

Mmm, those traffic guys–were they listening? Has Traffic Wizard Wes Guckert magically rerouted traffic from the failed Route 1/410 intersection to accommodate additional commercial traffic?

It is the holiday season, so everyone’s getting together and doing the “hey, long time, no see” routine. But this update’s timing is a little odd. We can hope for nice cookies and all, but why now?

Turns out the clock is ticking. The Cafritz team suddenly realized that they needed to file for a rezoning ASAP, probably January 2009. Why? Oh, it takes a little while, sometimes 18 months. Out of respect for the electoral process (2010 is a local election year) the County Council, acting as District Council, stops reviewing development projects in April 2010. So, darn-they better hurry.

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Please try to attend. But, we know (and they know), the timing is just horrendous. Here’s the Email Lady, just click to her to send a note to the Cafritz team–be sure to cc Council Member Eric Olson and Chief of Staff Dannielle Glaros of District 3. Ask the Cafritz team to post this presentation online immediately, let them know what you think of their plans and inquire about a second January presentation for the many folks who cannot attend. For your review: our past posts and the Cafritz team’s past presentations.

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Filed under Cafritz Property, Calvert Hills, College Park, Developers, Events, Public Input, Riverdale Park, University Park

Updating the Route 1 Sector Plan

Exciting summer reading!

Planner Chad Williams of M-NCPPC will make a presentation on the Central US 1 Corridor Sector Plan and Sectional Map Amendment on Monday for the University Park Town Council (event details here). The public is invited and Mayor John Tabori hopes residents of neighboring communities will attend as well.

Williams will discuss the possibility of extending the Route 1 Sector Plan’s boundaries, which encourages dense, mixed-use development along Route 1. The plan is currently confined to Route 1 in College Park but a preliminary proposal would move the southern boundary to East-West Highway/410. Williams will discuss

  • the plan’s purposes
  • preliminary boundaries
  • consultant team
  • timeline
  • citizen participation process

But the plan’s proposed boundaries will be the evening’s focus. The towns of University Park, Riverdale Park and the Calvert Hills neighborhood of College Park would be impacted by the boundary extension. What are the positives and negatives?

Would this allow Route 1 towns to better address traffic concerns? Would it involve rezoning Route 1 properties from single family to mixed use? Would it be better to pursue comprehensive planning standards along Route 1 from Eastern Ave. to 495? This might knit together our sector plans, transit districts and overlays into a coherent whole.

Williams presented a lot of information on growth in the Route 1 corridor at a crowded November gathering in College Park. His PowerPoint and the plan is available here, under Council Forum on November 2007. It provides an overview of projects already approved and in the pipeline and details the dramatic increase in housing and commercial inventory headed for Route 1.

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Filed under Calvert Hills, College Park, Community, Events, Growth, Hyattsville, Planning, Public Input, Riverdale Park, Route 1 Corridor, Route 1 Sector Plan, University Park

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

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

Landy: Not Ready for Prime Time

television-small.jpgAs you very likely know, the Landy Property would be a luxury development in a fenced, gated community with security on 34 acres off of Belcrest Rd. between Northwestern High School and Toledo Terrace. Originally approved in 2001, the plan has undergone a number of revisions. The revamped plans required a lot of work and are moving in the right direction, that is worthy of note. However, our area has grown significantly in the last 6 years and the Landy project’s improvements have not kept pace with an evolving community and its needs or concerns.

The latest iteration is hard to nail down as 3-bedroom units come and go (see below) and the unit number wavers between 1216 and 1262. What is clear is that the project is not consistent with the transit oriented development that our area needs. In addition, the Landy’s massive scale would cast a long shadow, metaphorically and literally. Shadow-wise, the M-NCPPC planning file has not been updated since the original 2001 plan. But even that less bulky building would have thrown a substantial shadow. The current proposal’s two buildings with 7-story base and 16-story towers would shadow Northwestern High School all of the year and the University Hills neighborhood a good bit of the year.

Construction would be done in phases and could take 8 years depending on market conditions. The M-NCPPC staff report recommends approval with conditions. Issues and impacts of concern to immediate neighbors and area residents include: Continue reading

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Filed under Developers, Events, Hyattsville, Landy Property, Planning Board, Riverdale Park, Route 1 Corridor, Traffic, University Park