Thursday, February 22, 2007
Driving east along Rhode Island Avenue from DC toward the District line into Prince George’s County, you pass a stretch of empty buildings and lots as you cross Eastern Avenue. This 3200 block of Rhode Island Avenue was once part of the vital downtown of Mount Rainier, a charming neighborhood formed around an old rail and streetcar depot, but one still waiting for more of the revitalization that has been spreading across the Washington metro area. But plans are now being discussed to bring such change. This week, the Mount Rainier City Council heard a presentation by representatives of Landmark Developers Inc. focusing on this block as well as a large empty building on the 3100 block. One possibility is a mixed-use residential, retail, and arts-oriented development, with a parking structure to support it. The centerpiece would be a three or four-story condominium that would focus on attracting artists as residents, with the first floor being retail space for the community. Such a development would complement (and be similar to) the already-built Mount Rainier Artist Lofts at 3311 Rhode Island Avenue (pictured), an artist work-live structure (44 rental units with retail on the ground) completed in 2005 as part of the Mount Rainier, Brentwood, and Hyattsville "Gateway Arts District" project. In any event, given its location on the DC border and eclectic, small-town feel, Mount Rainier appears ready for its moment in the spotlight.