Rendering of envisioned development for the area behind Landover Mall. Prince George's officials are endorsing the development of the area.

Landover May Be Next On Revival Bandwagon

The Landover Mall site covers most of the area planners want to develop. The plan hinges on a commitment from its owner, Lerner Corp., an official said.
The Landover Mall site covers most of the area planners want to develop. The plan hinges on a commitment from its owner, Lerner Corp., an official said. (Maryland-national Capital Park And Planning Commission)

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By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 9, 2007

Prince George's County officials are pushing an ambitious plan to transform downtown Landover, home of the Washington Redskins, into a Bethesda-like space where people can sip lattes at sidewalk cafes and dine at upscale restaurants.

A rubble-filled lot just inside the Capital Beltway where the bustling Landover Mall once stood would be replaced with luxury townhouses, trendy stores and office buildings. Two nearby apartment buildings, built nearly four decades ago, would be demolished. New construction would replace them, and the residents who occupy the 1,000 units would be relocated.

"This is going to be a major project," said County Council member David Harrington (D-Cheverly), who represents the Landover area. "The importance of this plan is that it sets in motion a vision for this area."

The development, which is in the very early planning stages, is the latest attempt to breathe new life into the inner and older suburbs of Prince George's, where District residents flocked in the 1960s and '70s for sprawling green lawns, trees and affordable housing. The area has changed, however, in the past couple of decades: Crime rates have risen, housing stock has eroded and student academic performance has slipped.

"We have some of the crime stuff, the transient kind of moving," said Sylvester Vaughns, 71, a member of the county planning board and longtime Landover resident.

The proposal to transform Landover into a residential and cultural hub is an example of what is happening in inside-the-Beltway communities throughout the county, with private-public development projects boosting the profiles of areas including Hyattsville and Suitland.

For example, a two-mile strip in Hyattsville that was once filled with auto repair shops and liquor stores is being reshaped into an arts and entertainment district, where condominiums with lofts are being marketed to artists.

Farther south, Suitland Manor, a 33-acre complex of barracks-style apartments, is being demolished, and an $80 million development of single-family houses, condominiums and rental apartments will be built. County officials say a developer will soon be selected for the project, part of an overall residential and commercial center in Suitland.

Harrington said the Landover development hinges on a commitment from Lerner Corp., which owns the mall property. Lerner's 88 acres cover more than two-thirds of the area being considered for development.

"We're very much on board," said Joel Rozner, an attorney for Lerner.

Over the years, Lerner has been approached at different times with proposals to relocate the county seat, school board headquarters and Prince George's Hospital Center to its site off Brightseat Road. Lerner showed interest, but none of the proposals came to fruition.

Rozner said that the company wants a "vibrant mixed-used development" on the property and that the current plans are a "work in progress."


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