Now, a Washington-based developer wants to build a project that would bring a Whole Foods Market, known for its organic products, to Riverdale Park. It would be the chain’s first site in the county.
“We would welcome it,” said Curtis Simpson, a member of the Madison Hill Homeowners’ Association. “All we have is the Shoppers. . . . Anything to bring some jobs.”
Similar to the celebration over the opening of a Wegmans last year at the Woodmore Towne Centre at Glenarden, many residents see the possible arrival of Whole Foods as a major shift in the way retailers view the county.
But the proposal, which includes a 120-room hotel, 168,200 square feet of retail, 22,000 square feet of office space and 995 residential units, is also being met with resistance. Some Riverdale Park residents say the project will dramatically alter the landscape of their working-class community, home to about 6,000 people.
They and some residents of neighboring University Park are also worried that their streets, already clogged with traffic, will become shortcuts for shoppers, that an increased strain will be placed on town services, including schools and police, and that stronger stormwater regulations passed by the county may not be imposed on the project.
“A lot of people would be interested in saying yes to Whole Foods, but the project is a complicated puzzle,” said Riverdale Park Mayor Vernon Archer, noting its scale and implications.
The Cafritz family wants to build on 36 acres of wooded property it owns on Route 1 near East-West Highway between Hyattsville and College Park. The development, which would be built in two phases, would be one of the largest infill projects in Prince George’s.
“It’s a special property, and it has a chance to be a special place,” said Chip Reed, an attorney for the Cafritz family. “It’s a great opportunity for Prince George’s County.”
Reed estimates that the project will bring in $11 million in new tax dollars and provide 435 full-time jobs at the stores and restaurants.
In the 1940s and ’50s, the site was used for workforce housing for an aircraft engineering and research facility. To build the mixed-use development, the Cafritz family needs the property, which is zoned for residential use, to be rezoned.
An application was recently filed with the Prince George’s Planning Department, and Reed expects the Planning Board to consider the project this fall.
In the meantime, the developer’s representatives have been holding community forums with residents and meeting with town officials in Riverdale Park, University Park, College Park and Hyattsville. Officials for County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) have been working behind the scenes to move the project forward.