Saturday, April 30, 2016

Hyattsville Values

Hyattsville and Prince George's County have a spiffy new Safeway as part of their transit-oriented development centered around Prince George's Plaza and its adjacent Metro stop.  So did Safeway locate a new store there when it's closing stores in Montgomery County simply because of demographics and economic demand in that area?  Not exactly.  The city and county aggressively courted Safeway as an anchor of the mixed-used, transit-oriented University Town Center and even provided $3.5 million in tax credits and other incentives.

So how did Hyattsville, a close-in suburb of 17,000 with a progressive heritage but issues with crime and urban blight, manage to accomplish this feat when its more prosperous counterpart Takoma Park has never even attempted to remedy the loss of its only Safeway, which left the city in 2009 after a half-century in that location?  That's easy to answer - city and county officials put their money where their mouths are and invested in a business that will help that community.  “It is the type of retail that will help this area grow and enhance the quality of life in this very walkable community,” County Executive Rushern L. Baker III said.  Of course, Takoma Park itself could have made that kind of investment, but its leaders prefer to devote resources to things such as a boutique municipal library that should have been phased out or incorporated into a county system years ago, like every other municipal library in the state, and that now costs the city taxpayers over $1 million a year because the state reasonably won't support it.

Then again, the city of Hyattsville, unlike Takoma Park, actually works with developers such as EYA instead of fighting with them when they reasonably try to bring higher-density development to areas that are appropriate for transit-oriented development.  That's how the city and business leaders have been able to essentially invent a new Arts District that has revitalized their Route 1 corridor.  As a result, Hyattsville now has desirable businesses such as Spice 6, Yes! Organic Market, and Vigilante Coffee as well as lots of modern apartments and condos in an area once dominated by car dealerships.  Oh well, I'm sure that Takoma Park officials will come up with more ways to waste taxpayer money on windowdressing and gateway projects without any substantive development to show for it.