Category Archives: Cafritz Property

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

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

Calvert Hills: Not Just Another Link in the Chain

img_1117-small.jpgCalvert Hills is a small section of College Park situated between the famed Cafritz property and the Old Town of College Park. In 2003, the neighborhood was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood’s defining feature is the old trolley trail, a raised berm that was recently upgraded with a $90,000 grant from the State of Maryland. Many people probably see our section of the trail as just another segment on the greater bike trail system. Plans are underway to extend the trail to the south to Riverdale and possibly beyond. With the development of the Cafritz property and points south, I fear Calvert Hills will be viewed as a potential transportation link connecting the new commercial areas. Route 1 is at capacity and it would be easy to look to other routes to connect these areas.

To Calvert Hills residents, the trolley trail path is not just a passage, but a valued destination, a “place” in and of itself. The “bike path” is one of the few spots you see kids playing.img_1112-small.jpg Neighbors congregate in the evening, walking dogs or steadying toddlers on bikes. Sometimes you have to dodge an ad hoc skate park created by neighborhood kids and there are often chalk designs drawn on the pavement. Pirate flags appear on occasion. Many of our neighborhood traditions focus on the bike path–for example, our annual summer block party and our New Year’s Eve progressive party with midnight fireworks and trumpet serenade on the path. It would be an adjustment to have strangers walking and biking through our neighborhood but I think most folks in Calvert Hills will accept the bike trail extension.

And what about the Cafritz property? That’s a mixed bag. It has languished with old broken pavement and pipes, a ratty fence, and trash strewn along Route 1. A scrappy path has been worn along the curb as a substitute for a sidewalk. On rainy days, people walk in the road to avoid the mud on their way to College Park. Homeless people camp in the woods on the property. But farther down the property there is a beautiful meadow that goes down to the tracks with remnants of old roses and herds of deer go bounding over the remains of the trolley trail. Something could be done to enhance the value of this property for the good of the community.

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Filed under Cafritz Property, Calvert Hills, College Park, Schools

Traffic & Whole Foods

whole-foods-logo-100w.jpgLet’s examine the possibility of the Cafritz Property development including a Whole Foods. Many area residents might enjoy having a Whole Foods nearby—especially for rushed weeknight dinners. But are we ready for all the additional traffic?

If we give Whole Foods the benefit of the doubt and assume that their store will be at the small end of the scale, only 40,000 square feet, let’s think about how many trips might be generated each day as people drive to this new destination. (We’ve heard it will be 42,000 square feet, but we are generous folk.)

Supermarkets do about 102 car trips per 1,000 square feet. So, if this is a 40,000 SF Whole Foods, you are looking at 4,000 car trips a day, and about 500/hour during the peak afternoon rush. The source for these two figures is the traffic impact bible for planners and engineers: Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), Trip Generation , 7th Ed., 2003.

However, Whole Foods real estate criteria and existing store data make us believe that they pull from a larger geographic area and have customers that are willing to drive a greater distance, thus would generate more trips, than say, Giant. In Austin, Texas, Whole Foods has a smallish store, only 30,000 square feet. There, over 3,800 trips are made daily.

Route 1 is already overloaded. The State Highway Administration has determined that Route 1 is pretty much at capacity and its intersections are operating at a level of service that would receive a classroom grade of an E or F. This is permissible only because the state and county hope to push Metro use.

However, Whole Foods real estate criteria make it clear that they prefer stand alone stores with parking dedicated to their customers. Route 1 and 410 are both heavily traveled roads that meet at a failing intersection–that is about to become worse with the addition of Wachovia’s drive through lanes. The Cafritz site’s proximity to the intersection should be a real source of concern.

To make this project work–if a zoning change is granted–will require something more than the transit adjacent development style that’s been deemed acceptable thus far in the Route 1 corridor. The Cafritz team will need to address the number of trips generated by future residents and a Whole Foods (or other retail). Transit oriented development should limit parking and push users (commercial or resident) towards Metro.

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Filed under Cafritz Property, College Park, Developers, Hyattsville, Riverdale Park, Traffic, University Park