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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. 


    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 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

    I don't follow the argument that we have to agree to this proposal or risk being branded as anti-development. In the six years I've lived in Hyattsville the pace of new development has been off the charts (most of it welcome), so it seems clear that our community is desirable and will remain so regardless of what happens with this one project.

    As Maureen writes in her post (you should read it), a chief reason Hyattsville is so desireable for new development and new residents is that there is such a strong sense of place here. That's the civic asset we should be most concerned with protecting.

    I am sympathetic to the neighbors of the current building who are sick of it, but there's clearly a lot of potential for this piece of land to elevate the city, rather than simply get turned into a row of townhouses.

    PS - If this project does go through, we should insist they drop the "e" from "Pointe". That's just not neighborly.

    0 Comments 13 Votes Created

    Magruder Park is a public space. It's where we end the annual parade to celebrate the city. It's where we hold the carnival, the cyclocross, and where folks are out and about every day. While the parking lot there is a bit of an eyesore, it's still provides sightlines into the park and helps keep the park open and inviting. Yeah, it's not actually public property but historically it was and the council(s) should look into options of restoring it to such.

    Packing in a bunch of pricey new homes will permanently alter the character of the park and reduce our public space, something Hyattsville is already short of. We already have big developments up and down route 1 and 410 and near west hyattsville Metro - that's plenty.

    If we're going to do something with the parking lot and old WSSC building sites, best to make them in the service of the public. Put the new elementary school in the lot and make the old WSSC building a community center or mow it down and make it more parkland. Keep Magruder our public meeting space. As we pack in more residents, we'll need it even more...

    0 Comments 12 Votes Created

    I do not think this is the right development for the site, especially because of the impacts it would have on Magruder Park. The current lower parking lot should be part of an expanded Magruder park or school (provided the floodplain issue can be dealt with). Converting this lot to single family homes would alter the character of the park for the worse and the park is one of the gems of the city.

    I wouldn't be against a smaller scope development for the WSSC building site only, though I would also like the city/county to seriously consider options for the site for a school or community center, or even limited mixed use and take into consideration the historical significance of parts of the building. On the whole, I would rather see the building reused as much as possible. It is better to wait and make the right decision.

    0 Comments 12 Votes Created

    I am opposed to the Werrlein proposal for many reasons. As the daughter and granddaughter of civil engineers who worked in New Orleans, I am strongly opposed to use of any flood plain for living space. From a design perspective, I find the existing Werrlein houses in our community very out of character in appearance and in the stilted way they sit on their lots. I think the density they are proposing will forever change the feel of Magruder Park. I also dislike the noise and air pollution and carbon footprint of demolition, then new construction. I would consider an alternate proposal including partial demolition for a school. I am not a parent, but find that a walkable school knits a community together in a way nothing else can. I would also support other adaptive reuse ie UMD planning & architecture using the space for a combination of classrooms and community space. I would even consider city hall relocating there, especially if the existing city building space could be annexed somehow for Hyattsville elementary. Or perhaps PG community college could have courses in the space, especially ones that would appeal to commuter students and our Aging In Place population. Single family homes would add a great deal of congestion and adversely affect the existing challenges for storm water management. I would want to have the parking lot redone to include permeable pavement and rain gardens for whoever uses the space as a requirement for any purpose.

    0 Comments 12 Votes Created

    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 11 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

    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

    Sarah Eisen 6 months ago
    • How will we have events like the cyclocross and carnival without the parking lot?
    • This development encroaches on the playground at Magruder Park. That is not ok. Even if they redesign the playground it will still be looming in the shadow of these new houses.
    • The amount of traffic this development will bring in is untenable - it will make it even more dangerous for kids, joggers, bikers, etc. to get from the neighborhood into Magruder park. That intersection (at the entrance to Magruder Park) is already at capacity.
    • We need this space for our community. There would be little to gain for current residents by building this development, but the developers have a lot to gain ($$$).
    • It is highly likely that PGCPS will choose to build a new school in this location once they get to that point in the CIP process. If the land is already gone, this will no longer be a possibility. There are really no other places central to the neighborhood for a rebuild of Hyattsville Elementary. HES is high on the county CIP list, just not at the point right now where the school district can act so it's really up to us to leave this space available.
    • Impact on the environment - the developer says there will be no impact but what form of accountability will the developer have? For how long?
    0 Comments 10 Votes Created