With recent residential and commercial developments and an influx of new residents, Hyattsville’s reputation around the region as a crime-riddled amoeba without borders just doesn’t suit it anymore, some members of the community said.
In fact, the City of Hyattsville is about three square miles in area and is situated mostly just west of Route 1, south of East West Highway, west of Ager Road and north of the Anacostia River’s northwest branch.
“[Hyattsville’s] perception is very different from the reality,” said City Councilwoman Shani Warner.
Although it is often seen by outsiders as a dangerous slum, Warner said the city is “diverse” and “welcoming” with an “old fashioned sense of community.”
“I think people move here because they can have a real backyard with giant trees and an old-fashioned sense of community,” without breaking the bank, she said.
Hyattsville is a family-friendly community that offers a “great quality of life and affordable neighborhoods” according to the Global Advantage Realty website.
“The old neighborhood is solid. It’s a lot more stable than it looks from the outside,” said Mike Franklin, owner of Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store. “The residential area has always been nicer. It’s the commercial aspect [of Hyattsville] that’s really changing.”
Within the past few years the city has seen the development of the University Town Center and other high-end stores in Hyattsville’s historic district such as Busboys and Poets and Yes! Organic Market.
“In the long-run the [commercial] changes are better for the town,” Franklin said.
Despite the empty storefronts along Route 1, the recent developments in Hyattsville have attracted attention.
Franklin’s Restaurant has had a “regional draw” for years, according to Franklin. The restaurant has been open for 19 years and while a large chunk of Hyattsville citizens patronize the establishment, Franklin said most of their business comes from areas within a 15-minute drive like College Park, Greenbelt, and Takoma Park.
Retail changes in the surrounding areas have also led to residential changes in Hyattsville.
Within the last decade, the Washington, D.C., Metrorail has extended to Hyattsville, adding the Prince George’s Plaza and West Hyattsville stops.
“Ten years ago the green line didn’t connect and now it does,” said Warner. “[The Metro] opens up a whole area for people who work downtown to live.”
Although the new businesses and affordable prices attracted her to Hyattsville, Warner said she was mostly drawn to Hyattsville for the increasingly rare sense of community in the suburbs of the District.
“I have friends who live in Northern Virginia and they have a lot of space inside their house, but they don’t know—or care to know—their neighbors,” she said.