There’s been a lot of talk recently about a proposed market study for the U.S. Route One Corridor. Patch thought we’d firm up some of the details with Stuart Eisenberg, who is coordinating the study.
What follows is a Q&A with Eisenberg, executive director of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation.
Patch: How much will the study would cost in total?
Stuart Eisenberg: In the end it depends on how much participation we have because if we incorporate all the way down to the south [to the Washington, D.C. line] it will run more money. We estimate that it will run on the order of $25,000 plus or minus.
It also depends on some revisions to the scope of work that we receive from the participants.
Patch: The CDC has asked Hyattsville, College Park, Riverdale Park and College Park to pay $5,000 each toward the study. You've stated that you're also looking into asking the county for some financial assistance. Where does that stand to date?
SE: We’ve invited Riverdale Park to participate. I haven’t gotten back anything in the form of an affirmative from the mayor. I also sent [the proposal] to the city administrator and the mayor distributed [it] to the council. I had one correspondence back. I just don’t know where Riverdale Park is right now.
I’m discussing the scope of the work with College Park city staff.
University Park had a meeting on [Sept. 12] – they provisionally approved it based upon the participation of three agencies and will take up at their first October meeting to ratify it.
Patch: Why should municipalities chip in?
SE: Because it helps them. Because agencies that should be doing it aren’t. This information is going to be useful for every community. All these communities are part of the market area. The issue is really one of relative value.
Patch: What topics the study will look at—Just retail? Or hotels? Or schools?
SE: I can’t answer the secondary question because I don’t know what tweaks will be asked yet. I don’t think we will get much of a tweak from College Park.
We envision this principally as an analysis of the current state of demand for retail in its various submarkets and in the trade areas and how consumers behave. What sort of market rates for these trade areas the submarkets are experiencing?
Patch: What area will the study cover?
SE: We’re going to be looking for [the] consultant to determine that.
We let the analysts say, “It’s got to go this far.” It would include places like Kenilworth Avenue. If you can get there within 15 minutes, it’s part of the market.
Patch: Is the CDC only doing this because the Cafritz property proposal?
SE: In May the CDC board directed me to bring different groups together—including municipalities—to start convening Route One corridor level coordination. [The Board wanted] the CDC to do for the area somewhat what we do here inside town—help get parties together to work for the common good.
We do better when we coordinate our activity. Hyattsville affects the adjoining communities and the adjoining communities affect Hyattsville. [The CDC has] a track record of using information from market studies effectively.
Patch: As an example, Eisenberg cited how Hyattsville determined the amount of retail they would like to see at the EYA development on Route One.
SE: The mayor, Bill Gardiner, wanted 80,000 square feet. The developer wanted 20,000 square feet. We recommended 35 to 40 square feet because of [a] market study. You don’t want too much retail because you’re likely going to propagate empty space. With business turnover comes social distress—unemployment…
Patch: How can residents be assured that the study will not be biased or slanted?
SE: This is about rightsizing information and that’s not going to change whether we’re looking at information inside of Hyattsville or outside of Hyattsville. I’ll let the work speak for itself.
Patch: What about the study done by Cafritz developers?
SE: The data that was being promulgated and not shared was contradictory to our specific analysis. That raises an issue of, “What questions is their study asking? Are they objective questions?”
Competition doesn’t always yield good public policies. Markets don’t create ideal conditions.
It could be we find in analysis that a rising tide does indeed float all boats. But it’s … not something you can assume.
In Hyattsville we didn’t wait for somebody to come and revitalize us. We set our values and mission through the land use planning process. And then we let the market do what it does best.
So we set boundary conditions for success and there’s not reason, at the corridor level, we can’t do the same thing.
Correction: The amount of retail proposed for Hyattsville's EYA development was measured in square feet. This article identified a different method of measurement. We regret the error.