UPDATE AS OF JULY 10, 2018

On June 18, 2018, the City received an updated conceptual site plan (CSP) application for the Magruder Pointe development. The original CSP application sought approval to construct townhouses through an amendment to the table of uses of the Gateway Arts District Sector Plan. The revised CSP application seeks to utilize the other permissible method to construct townhouses: a rezoning. No other aspects of the proposal have changed.

On June 29, 2018, the City received another revision to the CSP application. In this revision, the applicant seeks to rezoning the upper and lower lots to M-U-I (mixed-use infill). As is the case with the first revision received on June 18, the applicant is not changing their proposed end product, but is specifying the rezoning they would like to see. 

As a result of the revisions, the CSP application has been sent to the City for an expedited review. Due to the expedited time frame, the revised plan will not follow the standard process for development applications. Instead, the first revision was discussed at the Planning Committee meeting on June 19, 2018. The second revision will be discussed at the City Council meeting on July 16, 2018. At the July 16 meeting, the City Council will decide if they would like to provide the County's Planning Board with any additional commentary as a result of the revised application. 

More information on the updated application can be found at the City's website, here

 

ORIGINAL POST

Werrlein Properties, LLC has submitted a proposal for the reuse of 4017 Hamilton Street (former WSSC Building). The presentation is attached to this Forum. 

The application will go through the City's Development Review Process, detailed below. You are invited to provide public comment at any public meeting, within this Forum, or by email to cityclerk@hyattsville.org.

Questions should be directed to the City Planner, Katie Gerbes, at kgerbes@hyattsville.org or (301) 985-5059 OR to Werrlein Properties at info@werrleinproperties.com

 

Presentation of Proposal

February 5, 2018, City Council Meeting, 3rd Floor Council Chambers

Presentation of Proposal

February 27, 2018, Planning Committee Meeting, 2nd Floor Prangley Room

Discussion of Proposal

April 16, 2018, City Council Meeting, 3rd Floor Council Chambers 

Discussion of Proposal

May 7, 2018, City Council Meeting, 3rd Floor Council Chambers 

Action on Proposal

May 21, 2018, City Council Meeting, 3rd Floor Council Chambers 

I am writing to express my strong opposition to the Magruder Pointe Development proposal by Werrlein Properties. I am deeply dismayed by the proposed demolition of the existing WSSC building, as well as the loss of potential open space for our community. While I realize that it can be difficult for many people to get beyond the "run down" nature of a vacant building, I would like to provide my professional opinion as a preservation architect, that this building offers great potential for adaptive reuse. Unfortunately, Werrlein has dismissed this possibility outright.

It has been proven over and over again that people appreciate historic architecture as being essential to the identity and unique character of their communities. Hyattsville is a historic neighborhood - people are attracted to Hyattsville precisely because of its historic building stock and, even more so, as the recent wave of adaptive reuse projects have created lively community spaces like Pyramid Atlantic, Vigilante Coffee and Pizzeria Paradiso. I would argue that it is exactly these types of adaptive reuse projects that are the reason Hyattsville is now in demand as a desirable place to live. The preservation of buildings that are part and parcel of our community’s history is essential to cultural, social, economic and environmental sustainability.

I don’t want Hyattsville to succumb to the kind of increasingly fast-paced, anonymous and “placeless” form of urban development that has drastically changed similar neighborhoods in the metro area. The individual character of Hyattsville is a precious commodity that we should not just throw away to the highest bidder. It is the unique identity of Hyattsville as a product of incremental development over time, that helps create a sense of stability and community spirit.

More specifically the WSSC building offers many qualities that would be lost forever if it is demolished, including:

  1. A richness of design that spans three distinct architectural styles and time periods.

  2. Solid construction and a high degree of craftsmanship and quality materials.

  3. A thoughtful and considerate site design that utilizes the change in grade to negotiate the building’s relationship to both the residential character of Hamilton Street and the existing open character of Gallatin Street.

  4. A tangible connection to our city’s history as the headquarters of a major public utility.

It is very convenient for developers to say that it isn’t financially feasible to rehab an old building when they have no interest or intention of preservation. It is my professional opinion that the WSSC building is a viable candidate for adaptive reuse and is in considerably better shape than many buildings I have seen brought back from neglect and vacancy to a vibrant new use.

In terms of the parking lot on which Werrlein is proposing to build town homes, I would much prefer to see this portion of the property remain open space. Its location directly adjacent to the entrance of our largest city park is a golden opportunity that our city should simply NOT pass up. Once this parcel is developed, the opportunity to add additional public green space and recreational opportunities is lost. I would encourage our city leadership to find a creative solution that would add this parcel to our existing park.

Development pressures are one of the biggest challenges to adding and maintaining green space in cities - it takes the will of the governing bodies to see the value of access to public open space/parks and prioritize that over development. The required zoning change for this proposal provides the city with considerable leverage in negotiating the future use of this portion of the site - why give that away with no benefit to the larger community? Is it because we are worried about getting “a reputation as a community as being anti-development?” (As we know, this is a concern for Councilmember Warner, whom I am quoting). As a resident I am much more concerned about getting a reputation as a city that doesn’t fight for its community values. I can guarantee that the desire for more open space and maintaining historic neighborhood character are routinely listed among the top values that residents site in Hyattsville.

We can all lament the fact that the city didn’t take earlier opportunities to acquire this property or that previous plans for adaptive reuse fell through or that the building is listed as a contributing structure to the Hyattsville Historic District but which affords no legal protections for preservation, but the fact is we are where we are. I am asking our mayor and council to be the people that stand up for our community values despite development pressure. Why not be the city that sends developers packing when it is not in the best interest of our community?

I would be happy to elaborate more on my specific criticisms of the proposed site plan (especially the town homes located on the lower lot which are poorly sited and not in keeping with our neighborhood, or even regional, character. Why are we plunking down Savannah in the middle of Hyattsville again?) but my real hope is that the mayor and city council will reject this proposal and will stand up for our collective best interest.

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Jennifer Bangoura, Career Services Specialist 2 months ago

Thank you for sharing this thoughtful and detailed post. I agree with everything written here and want to affirm my opposition to the townhouse development at Magruder Park.

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