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Arcade Paused While Uses Pondered

Hyattsville officials are trying to figure out what, specifically, they want to do with the Arcade building.

With roughly $1.6 million in work already done, final design work on the city's redevelopment of the Arcade Building on Gallatin Street has been put on pause while the Hyattsville City Council tries to figure out what exactly they want to do with the building. 

Located in downtown Hyattsville at 4318 Gallatin Street, the Arcade Building has been the subject of six years of ongoing renovations to shore it up for the city to do something with. 

The work done so far on the building, begun in 2006, has been largely structural. Roofing was replaced, the structure stabilized, the interior gutted, and the Gallatin Street facade was redone with new windows and handicap accessible entrances. 

Now all that work is done, and designers need more specific input from city officials about how the building will be used. 

"We've defined the basic structure of the building, but don't have final programming done because council changed hands and had a different vision," said Stuart Eisenberg, director of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation, in an interview. The Hyattsville CDC is managing the overhaul of the building for the city.

"We kind of stepped back this past year and began this new design process by looking at slightly different functions for the building, but that's as far as we've gotten," said Eisenberg.

In the long history of the Arcade Building redevelopment, many ideas have been floated for how to repurpose the building. offices and meeting rooms for city staff and organizations, and could house an expanded local cable television operation.

Key to this vision is a large interior space, remnant from the time the Arcade Building housed a silent movie theater, which could become a space for both performances and public meetings. 

Councilor Candace Hollingsworth (Ward 1), in whose ward the Arcade Building sits, wants the building to be an asset for the Gateway Arts District. 

"I'd like it to be the stilts or supports of the Gatway Arts District," said Hollingsworth in an interview. "I'd like it to offer space and services not currently available in the arts district. There is opportunity in that building."

Abby Sandel, director of the Hyattsville Community Services Department, has also noted the potential to use the Arcade Building to expand the city's cable television programming.

Mayor Marc Tartaro has also voiced a preference for a design which includes a performance space, city offices and additional meeting rooms. 

Over the next two months, a select workgroup of city staff, architects and local tourism officials will be developing a "programming document" outlining the final vision for the Arcade Building. The group includes Jim Chandler, director of the Hyattsville Department of Community and Economic Development, Mike Schmidl with the city Department of Public Works, Cheri Everhart, the city's recreation events coordination, Sgt. Chris Purvis from the Hyattsville Police Department, Aaron Marcavtich from the Anacostia Trails Heritage Association, and architect Dennis McGlynn. 

Their work will be to sift through years worth of informal ideas for the building to develop a cohesive plan for the structure which architects and engineers can then design around. 

That means diving into the specific audio/visual needs for the meeting rooms and assembly space, stage equipment, wiring, and other nuts-and-bolts details.

Currently, the building stands empty save for bare concrete floors and exposed brick walls. 

According to a timeline laid out in a memo from the Hyattsville CDC, the programming document could be ready by the end of January 2013 and the final schematic design package could be before the city council by March 2013.

Completing the renovation of the Arcade Building will also require a significant investment on the city's part. Hyattsville's most recent capital improvement plan projects the rest of the work to cost $3 million, paid for mostly with a proposed 2013 government bond issuance. 

Tartaro has raised concerns that the building could end up costing more than anticipated, a prospect which troubles him because the city's capital improvement plan also calls for bond issuances to pay for a number of expensive infrastructure projects throughout the city over the next five years. 

Corey Somers November 21, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Hyattsville's version of a bridge to nowhere.
Peggy Anne November 24, 2012 at 03:14 PM
At least they are trying to save it. Better than a fast food joint, or convenience store. It looks like a good place for a classy thrift shop.
Scurvy December 03, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Maybe they can bundle it with the BB&T building and use the funds to pay for more searches for department heads and City Manager.

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