If there are no sadder words than "what might have been," many planners must be feeling a bit melancholy these days, not the least of which would be developers of the Town Center at Camp Springs in Prince George's County. If ambition were reality, the Branch Avenue Metro would have joined other metro-oriented developments like Silver Spring or Clarendon, or maybe at least Twinbrook, but then Father Economy intervened. And though several residential projects have delivered, the promise of retail to round out the community is unfulfilled, and the site closest to WMATA's vast surface parking lots remains a sandbox.
In 2008, Archstone secured approval for a massive 19-acre mixed-use development, the Town Center at Camp Springs. The Town Center plans called for 801 rental apartments and 65,359 s.f. of retail to attract young professionals and employees of several nearby federal facilities. Though groundbreaking was supposed to begin this past fall, like so many projects, the Town Center remains another undeveloped Metro site, another victim of the times.
Peter Jakel, a Communications Manager for Archstone, told DCMud, "the project is planned for a future construction start, but we have not yet established a definite start date." An all-too-familiar chorus for a promising metro-oriented development.
In 2008, Archstone Senior Vice President Rob Seldin described his project as a sort of tipping point for the County, that drawing in young professionals and their entrepreneurial spirit would mean jobs and a new tax base. Seldin explained that, historically, "in PG County, it is typically very difficult to have housing approved, so really, what's been happening is these highly educated, highly skilled, highly compensated workers have been systematically disenfranchised, so they go to Arlington." The horror. Camp Springs would, according to Seldin, offer the same Arlington appeal to the young professional demographic and draw them into Prince George's County. But now that many college-educated, potential-homebuying, young professionals are unemployed and living at home, the Town Center at Camp Springs target market has dwindled.
The project, when begun, will deliver in three phases. Ideally, the first phase will offer 416 units, a 7,000 s.f. private club house with pool, followed by the second phase with similar amenities and 385 units. Phase three will be the retail space, all designed by The Preston Partnership, LLC. What year this will happen, no one seems willing to guess.
Other nearby metro-centric projects have fared better. Metropolitan Development's Metroplace at Town Center, situated between Auth Way and Suitland Parkway, began leasing its 397 rental units in 2006, and report being 92% leased. Across from Metroplace are two more residential projects, Chelsea Way and Tribeca, both developed by Wood Partners. Without the added value of retail from Town Center, however, Camp Springs will continue to be relegated to the category of sprawl rather than high-density metro-oriented development.
Prince George's County real estate and development news