Home to two of the county’s 15 Metro stations, Hyattsville is being reshaped by new development.Townhouses selling for $329,000 to $439,000 on Rhode Island Avenue were initially marketed to young professionals and empty-nesters, but most of the buyers have been young families, many of them white.
‘A lot of strollers’
In the past two years, the Rev. James Stack of St. Jerome’s said he has presided over more baptisms than burials for the first time in his 14 years at the Catholic parish.
“You see a lot of strollers around now,” said Andy Shallal, the owner of Busboys and Poets, who opened a Hyattsville outpost last year. It’s the only one of his four restaurants with a weekly children’s storytelling hour, called Rise and Rhyme, held in a room painted with portraits of people such as Nelson Mandela, Tolstoy, Emma Goldman and Frederick Douglass.
On a recent Monday, most of the children whose parents brought them to Rise and Rhyme were white.
“It’s like a baby boom in the whole neighborhood,” said Ryan Teague Beckwith, 37, an editor at DC Roll Call, carrying his infant daughter in a sling on his chest as he sat in a booth at Busboys and Poets. “Every third house has a toddler or an infant.”
Beckwith and his wife considered houses in the District and Fairfax and Montgomery counties before choosing Prince George’s. Two years ago, they moved into one of the townhouses across from Busboys and Poets.
One place where the arrival of white families has made a difference, though not huge, is Hyattsville Elementary School. In 2006, the school had 39 white children in the student body of 479 — about 8 percent. In the school year just ended, 56 of the 513 children enrolled were white — almost 11 percent. Many parents send their children to charter and private schools instead, said Mary Warneka, one of the original members of the Hyattsville Nurturing Moms, a group that interacts on an e-mail list and has a membership that is overwhelmingly white.
“We have a few years before it becomes an issue,” Beckwith said of the schools. “As more people move into the immediate neighborhood, by the time it matters, we think there will be an improvement at the elementary level. There’s no perfect place to live. You can have a tiny house, or be far away and have a long commute, or live closer in but not have a nice neighborhood.”