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 

1 Attachment

Attachment: Document - Magruder Point Development Presentation


The attached document was presented to the Hyattsville City Council on Monday, February 5, 2018. 

    According to Werrlein, it purchased the property for $6-$7 million dollars. They are not planning on building any affordable housing units. Let’s assume the high end of that figure ($7 million). They plan on developing 84 homes for resale (combination of townhouses and single family homes). They will price their homes in the low 500s to high 600s depending on the features. Let’s assume an extraordinarily low end of that profit figure when building and labor costs are factored in, every home will be a net profit of $200,000.

    The developer will make an astonishing $16.8 million dollars in net profit before taxes. The community gets no affordable housing units when they could easily afford to create them, no business tax benefits since the developer isn’t based in Hyattsville and only a handful of temporary jobs created. The city loses a place where a new school could be built, a park could be expanded or actual affordable housing can be built.

    Just over the hill on Jefferson Street, we have an elementary school that serves our community well. It is facing a myriad of issues including severe overcrowding and public health hazards. Ironically, the land it is built on would actually serve as a better space for developing denser, more affordable, environmentally friendly housing. It would have easier access to downtown shopping, bus services and the municipal building.

    I understand the environmental concerns regarding the flooding issue. With that said, if the city is comfortable with a developer moving forward developing in this zoning area, why is a school unacceptable? Why should we prioritize the millions of dollars an out-of-town developer would make in the future against the new school facilities that our children need right now?

    We should not. If this project moves forward, it would be a disservice to the entire community, dry out affordable housing stock in the city and eliminate a site where a much needed school could be built. This project is a slap in the face to the progressive values of the community. It would be a travesty, and a tragedy for our children, if it were to move forward.

    10 Votes Created

    I appreciate Werrlein Properties (WP) leading tours through the building a few weeks ago. I live directly across the street, and had no idea of the beautifully aged interior and fantastic design details from three distinct periods in the 20th century (early industrial era, 50's modernism, and 70's funk). My immediate thought was "Whoa! Why has this place not been used for film, TV, and photography shoots this whole time?!" It seems a huge loss of built-in capital that could only be possible through the "deterioration" over time. I imagine many creatives and producers would pay top dollar for using the site. Not to mention the rampant instagrammers that have been hitting Green Owl's murals along Route 1--they'd probably pay an easy 5 bucks to be allowed in the WSSC building with their iphones. So, while I was involved in the difficult conversations around the building's historic value and the residential potential WP sees in it, this thought remained in the back of my mind. Then this past weekend, I became acquainted with the amazing Heather Roymans (Partner & Executive Director of IFDC) through her participation in the Her Story panel at Pyramid Atlantic. It is lucky for us that such an experienced producer lives in the neighborhood. This gave enough legs to my left field idea that I'm sharing now: What if WP used their capital to purchase and stabilize the building enough so that it could be used as an income-generating site for film and photo shoots? What if Roymans advised, with her expertise and background? WP could own, maintain and profit from production uses; the building’s “deterioration” becomes an aesthetic asset, rather than a blight, and the multi-use parking lot remains available for community uses while also being a staging area for production companies. This idea has not gone away for months, which signals to me that it’s worth sharing. And perhaps, if all parties are willing, at least it’s worth a meeting between city council, WP, and Roymans. I am an art historian by trade, and am willing to offer whatever advice I can, though I can’t speak to the actual financial feasibility of this idea. But again, we seem stuck between a rock and a hard place as a community, and I am compelled to share my out-of-the-box idea. –Josh T. Franco

    The WSSC redevelopment is a great opportunity to expand the city's housing stock within walking distance of the Arts District and the historic core (as well as the West Hyattsville Metro Stop). The proposed design thoughtfully compliments existing houses and returns the WSSC site to its historic use -- single family homes.

    I know many families who find the historic district attractive and would love to live in this humane and walkable community. Given limited listings, they often struggle to find a property and move elsewhere. This project will allow for a greater number of these families to find a home in Hyattsville. This will help make the community more vibrant and help sustain the Route 1 businesses that make the Arts District such a wonderful place, but sometimes seem to struggle with getting enough business.

    If there are crowding issues with the schools, that needs to be addressed by the school board. If it doesn't that is a failure of our local governing institutions and the blame should be pinned there, not on a private development. It is a duty of local government to plan and allow for growth and development. Locking the city into some status quo, isn't really what governing is supposed to be about. There are lots of beautiful historic properties in Hyattsville, but the decaying WSSC is not among them.

    I do fully agree with other commentators that the city and county should look into making it easier to renovate and expand existing buildings and houses.

    The need to balance environmental impacts, emergency management measures, affordability, and a myriad of other difficult aspects of this project are important. Werrlein Properties won't be able to make every resident happy with their development project, but that shouldn't be the reason that the project is rejected. There will be change to Hyattsville, it isn't easy and will often be uncomfortable.

    Despite the potential to be a great location for a new school, it isn't a political or fiscal reality at this time. Turning the building into a 100 unit apartment/condo will only aggravate the feared traffic concerns and makes and even greater change to the character of the neighborhood. While the historic preservation of old building is important, not every building is worth saving.

    The issues that Werrlein Properties does need to address to make this property viable are the storm-water management, environmental impact, and flood mitigation concerns. The obvious place to start would be to only build outside of the 500-year flood zone, this would leave most of the upper property for development. To address the environmental impact I suggest utilizing local expertise and implement a better ecological transition from the Magruder Park bog into an expansion of the parks green/wild space on the lower property. Finally, the storm-water management issue must be addressed because the lower lot is one the lowest points in Hyattsville and it is not a matter of if but when there will be flash flooding. Green roofs, community or household cisterns, advanced bio-retention areas, and other methods must be implemented.

    There are many dedicated and experienced people in Hyattsville, Werrlein Properties must continue to make use of their skills to help make this a project that is not only acceptable to the community but a proud achievement that makes Hyattsville an even better place to live.

    I do not support this density level of development in a flood plain. O-S zoning is in place for a reason. This does not seem like wise development that will benefit Hyattsville in the long run for a multitude of reasons, this includes traffic, impact to Magruder Park, impact to already overtaxed public schools and the inexperience of the developer on this scale of a project. I hope that the WSSC site can be developed with a little more thought on how it impacts the community.

    14 Votes Created

    The development and investment occurring in and around the Historic Arts District is incredibly exciting. Whether at the Busboy & Poets or the new Pizza Paradiso, the new investment flowing into our community represents an incredibly positive trajectory for us all and will encourage others to also invest and reinvest in our community. We should do everything in our power to support the continued development of our community and why I feel that the Werrlein proposal is vital to our community's continued growth.

    Whether at the gathering at Vigilante coffee shop last year or in other settings, over the past few months, Jonathan Werrlein has actively sought out community input for this proposal and has demonstrated a commitment to listening and adjusting plans for Magruder Pointe based on our input. In this process, he has proven himself to be someone who genuinely wants to contribute to our community in a meaningful way.

    On a personal level, we live directly across the street from the WSSC site and we are forced to look at this rotting building each day. Living across the street, we know the demolition will be an inconvenience for a time but the pros of having new development and new investment in our community far outweigh any negatives in the short term. We certainly will not miss looking at that structure when it is gone. In my view, the plans for Magruder Pointe Development cannot start soon enough.

    Taylor Johnson 3 months ago

    I like the different styles of homes. I like the "greens" in front of the row homes. Where is the common space for the detached homes to entice neighbours to mix and mingle outdoors? Why can't the main portion of the WSSC building be kept and turned into condos? What about the additional traffic caused by so many news residences? There is basically only one way in and out--Hamilton Street. Seems like a heavy burden to place on a road already heavily traveled. Taylor Johnson, Oglethorpe St

    My family has been in business in West Hyattsville for over 50 years. During that time, we have seen the WSSC building sit vacant for years. Every effort at re-using the building was opposed by the community for various reasons. I believe we now have a developer that is bringing a quality design for a project that fits well within the existing community. We are in full support of the Werrlein project, please move forward with this proposal so we do not have to be saddled with this old, vacant building for years to come.

    I think this development is not the best idea for this site. Adaptive reuse of the current building should be part of the development, and it should include some type of community use. I have lived in Hyattsville since 1987 and have watched this building close down, be considered as a school, be considered for tear-down, and more. If our community has a focus on sustainability, tearing this building down is not the way to go. I would like to see a different kind of development in this area--some housing (single-family, rowhouse, etc.) but not such a high number of dwellings that will wreak havoc on our local schools. Let's not "settle" for something that is not an excellent solution. We are a desirable community so let's do some things that are going to be good for all of us.

    0 Comments 7 Votes Created

    I live on Farragut St about three blocks away from this site and am very concerned about the sudden population density increase this proposal would cause. Already the traffic on 40th Street is very heavy, it’s often scary to walk along the side walks or cross the street on this SINGLE LANE road. We already have cars speeding down Farragut to cut through town, which really concerns me as a parent of a little kid. I can only imagine that heavier traffic on 40th would exacerbate this. Not to mention that we moved into the area some years ago because of the historic feel of the neighborhood and the open spaces, which in my opinion would change for the worse with this development. And our public schools are bursting at the seams! Finding childcare has been extremely difficult here for young parents for some years due to a baby boom and young couples/families moving in. the school density problem is only going to get worse unless something is done, and this development is not going to help. In addition, I don’t see any planning for a common space in the development design, meaning that they expect the new residents to use Magruder. I really don’t see a single reason why I should support this development.

    0 Comments 10 Votes Created