- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2006

More than 500 row houses and condominiums and a small amount of retail and office space will be built as part of a second major redevelopment project getting under way in Hyattsville.

Real estate developer EYA says the $120 million project will convert Hyattsville’s Route 1 corridor from an area of abandoned buildings and empty lots to a “town center” minutes from downtown Washington and the University of Maryland.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s not going to be overwhelming,” EYA President Bob Youngentob said during a ceremony yesterday at the site of the former Lustine automobile showroom at 5705 Baltimore Ave.

Bethesda-based EYA, formerly Eakin/Youngentob Associates, has set up a sales office for its Arts District Hyattsville project in a housing trailer a short walk from the showroom and former automobile dealership car lot.

The multiuse development would extend over 21 acres on both sides of Baltimore Avenue, bounded by Madison Street to the north and Kennedy Street to the south. About 35,000 square feet of the property would be used for retail and offices along Baltimore Avenue, which is the same as Route 1.

Another 8,000 square feet of retail space would be attached at the bottom of some row houses to be used by residents who want to work out of their homes. The row houses would range in price from $355,000 to $725,000. The largest ones will include retail space. Prices have not been set for the condominiums.

As the first homes are completed in about a year, EYA plans to convert the 6,000-square-foot former Lustine automobile showroom into a fitness center, lounge area and art gallery.

Hyattsville’s Route 1 corridor is part of an area Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. designated last year as a “priority place” for redevelopment. The designation gives grant applicants a first priority for receiving state economic development grants.

EYA has applied for state and county funding for Arts District Hyattsville, but has not received approval.

Audrey E. Scott, Maryland secretary of planning, said the grants give “a little nudge” to underdeveloped cities and regions.

On Monday, developers started construction in Hyattsville on a $1.2 billion mixed-use project that will include offices, retail and residential units. The University Town Center project follows other Hyattsville redevelopment in Prince George’s County that county officials hope will encourage residents to spend their money locally, instead of traveling to other areas to shop.

Kwasi Holman, president of the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp., said plans for Arts District Hyattsville have “started to catalyze new development” by the business community, which sees the project as an opportunity.

Mike Franklin, owner of Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store at 5123 Baltimore Ave., said, “Finally, after a 40- or 50-year absence of any kind of energy, we can really show our best face to the world.”

Most of the land was purchased from the Lustine family for $5 million. The family has owned the property since the 1950s. The rest was acquired from small-business owners, such as an automobile auction house. Some of the sales have yet to close.

Hyattsville Mayor William F. Gardiner said residents have not opposed construction of Arts District Hyattsville.

“It was never even mentioned,” Mr. Gardiner said.

• Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail tramstack@washingtontimes.com.

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