On Thursday, the Prince George’s County Planning Board will tackle both projects: the Cafritz family’s plan
to build a mixed-use development, including the Whole Foods, off Route 1 in Riverdale Park; and the proposed Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, where Peterson Cos. would locate about 80 stores just outside the Capital Beltway.
The developments are probably the most controversial considered by the board since its members were appointed by the new county executive, Rushern L. Baker III.
The appearance by Cafritz family representatives before the board follows numerous intense meetings with community leaders over several months. And it comes after competing efforts to sway public opinion: on one side, a major public relations blitz by the developer, including glossy brochures and telephone calls to residents; on the other, a grass-roots campaign in which residents have gone door-to-door to express their concerns about the proposal.
Some residents near the site have said the project — which includes a 120-room hotel, 168,200 square feet of retail, 22,000 square feet of office space and 995 residential units — is not smart growth or transit-friendly. The project, they said, is too far from the College Park Metro station and will exacerbate traffic on part of the Route 1 corridor that largely consists of single-family homes.
“Those who oppose this, we’re very much pro-development,” said Joseph Grikis, a former Riverdale Park resident who lives in College Park. “We’re not trying to be provincial about this. There are places that are as suitable or better than the Cafritz property that already have transit-oriented infrastructure.”
The developer was scheduled to ask the Planning Board to rezone the property from single-family to mixed-used development last month but requested a postponement after Riverdale Park officials demanded that the developer delay its plans or lose the town’s support.
Riverdale Park Mayor Vernon Archer said Friday that Cafritz representatives and officials from Riverdale Park, University Park and College Park planned to meet over the next several days in an attempt to reach a final agreement.
There have been disagreements between local officials and the developers over design, environmental standards and traffic mitigation. A major issue has been how to finance and ensure timely completion of a crossing, probably a bridge, over the CSX tracks east of the project to improve access to the development.
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress,” Archer said, including a tentative agreement on funding for the bridge.