Hyattsville officials' hopes of breathing new life into the city's commercial district got a boost last week when the mayor and City Council endorsed the sale of an abandoned firehouse to a developer who wants to convert the property into a restaurant and offices.
The council decided to sell the fire station and the adjoining Magruder Library building at 4334 Farragut St. for $80,000, according to City Administrator Robert Johnson. The developer, Travino Inc., a small firm created by Dovie Travino Sullivan, a local businesswoman, has planned to open a restaurant on the first floor of the fire house and put offices in the rest of the approximately 7,000 square feet of interior space in the structures.
In recent years, the city has been pounding the pavement trying to lure business back into commercial areas of the town often obscured by the city's junk-yard image of repair shops, car dealers and vacant storefronts along Route 1. Just blocks away from that sooted commuter path, city promoters say, are pristine Victorian neighborhoods with patches of shops tucked between.
Helen Payne, an assistant city administrator and coordinator of the city's redevelopment efforts, said the sale of the fire house, which the city has rented as storage space in recent years, connects neatly with the sale last April of the old Armory building a few blocks away.
Developer David Shikles, who got it for an undisclosed amount, plans to convert that former National Guard station into a retail mall. Payne said Shikles is currently setting up the financial arragements.
Sullivan will fund her purchase, and a $125,000 renovation, through loans from the Small Business Adminstration and a bank. The city is to get $10,000 down, and the rest over 25 years, Johnson said.
Redevelopment of the 20,000-square-foot Armory and the firehouse-library building would provide north and south anchors, respectively, to the city's target area for business revival in the blocks leading from Route 1, Johnson said. The plan for the fire house project, especially, is an example of the kind of small office and retail projects city officials see as their best potential.
"That was the main reason for . . . selling it: this is the kind of business we are trying to get," he said.
The library--a branch of the Prince George's County library system--will continue to operate until next year, Johnson said, and then officials will relocate it somewhere within the neighborhood, most likely at the municipal building on Jefferson Street.