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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 


1 Attachment

Attachment: Document - Magruder Point Development Presentation

Description:

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.

    Taylor Johnson 5 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.

    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.

    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 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 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.

    15 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