This June 4 Washington Business article incorrectly said that the Consolidated Theatres multiplex in Hyattsville is the first movie theater to be built in Prince George's County in the past 10 years. A 12-screen theater opened in Largo in 2004.
An Opening Scene for a Developer's Dream
A long-awaited effort to bring high-end retail to Prince George's County kicked off Friday with the opening of a 14-screen movie theater.
The multiplex, built by Consolidated Theatres, is the first new theater in Prince George's in 10 years -- and the first in Hyattsville in 40. It's also the first commercial space to open in the $1.2 billion University Town Center development, about a mile from the University of Maryland and near the Hyattsville Metro station.
Twelve restaurants, including a sushi place, a white-tablecloth bistro, a burger joint and a wine bar, are set to open in the next three months.
A Safeway and Wireless Toyz, a store that sells cellphones and other electronic gadgets, are expected before Labor Day.
Retailers are a vital component of the 56-acre, 1 million-plus square-foot project that's trying to channel foot traffic into a mixed-use zone with luxury condo towers and college student housing.
Catherine Timko, spokeswoman for developer Prince George's Metro Center, said University Town Center will be the largest swath of retail in the area, "like a downtown Bethesda, Clarendon or Seventh Street in D.C."
Planning for the town center project began in the 1960s. Shortly thereafter, about 5,000 office workers, employed mainly by government agencies, moved in.
Then Interstate 95 came through the area, halting development. In the 1980s, the real estate market slumped.
Prince George's Metro Center President Herschel W. Blumberg, who has owned the property since 1954, has spent the better part of the past decade getting the development off the ground.
As part of the opening celebration, people passing through the Hyattsville Metro station received free movie passes all weekend to see the latest "Shrek" and "Spiderman" flicks. They'll have to pay, however, to see the third "Pirates of the Caribbean."
Timko suspects the Royale 14 Cinemas will be the main attraction, though she's afraid people will wonder about the name.
"We tried to get Hyattsville in the name of the theater, but it wouldn't fit on the signage," she said.
-- Kim Hart