The $200 million Arts District is a new, 25-acre residential neighborhood off of Route 1 in PG County (a.k.a. Rhode Island Avenue in D.C.), just two miles from the District border and two miles from the University of Maryland. Jack McLaurin, a Principal at Lessard Group architects, said his firm tried to create a "depot main street architecture" for the project, hearkening back to old railroad towns, since a railroad line runs along the property. Lessard "tried to funk it up" to make the new project look like "someone had come in and revitalized an area that had been there for a long time." Faux adaptive reuse?
The project is delivering in two phases: the West and East Villages (i.e. East or West of Route 1). The West Village includes 132 townhouses, 10 of which are live-work space for artists, and the rehabilitated Lustine showroom, which serves as a community center with an art gallery and gym. Aakash Thakkar, a Vice President at EYA, said 102 of the residential units are settled, most are built, and the team "hopes to have it sold and completed by the end of 2010." To put it in perspective, sales began on the West Village in 2006.
The East Village will include 41,000 s.f. retail, 275 multi-family units and 183 townhouses. The project originally was to have fewer multi-family units, but EYA recently received approval from the Prince George's County Planning Board to add an additional 198 units in one, four-story building and to reduce by 21 the number of townhouses. Thakkar said at this time EYA has not decided whether the multi-family units will be rental or condos and that construction on the three buildings will not begin until early next year. The townhouses, however, should start sales as early as this April, with construction set to begin in the 3rd quarter of this year.
McLaurin said the West Village has more of an art deco feel than the updated design for the East village, where the team simplified the design to reduce costs. "No vinyl siding" the architect assured DCMud, but "we tried to work with interesting color combination with the brick and hardie panel." The multi-family buildings are broken up to look like a series of taller townhouses, and to keep with the depot idea, the multi-family buildings have space for ground floor retail or artists work spaces, with "larger window patterns" and "doors on ground level units." McLaurin said he wanted to create a "distinct" feel, so that people would know they were not in "anywhere U.S.A."
Guy Silverman, Managing Principal at StreetSense, said his company is the majority owner on the retail, but has been working closely with EYA so that the two developers are "very aligned...in terms of how we envision the Arts District." Silverman said this will be the first location for both Yes! Organic Market and Busboys and Poets and that the choice of Hyattsville "speaks volumes" about the project and the developers' efforts to create an urban neighborhood feel. Tara Thai is also signed on, bringing the total spoken-for retail space to 60%. StreetSense is now looking tenants like a yoga studio, a drop off dry cleaners, a small spa or maybe even an organic pet food store to fill the remaining space.
Hyattsville real estate development news