The Hyattsville City Council got its first look at new plans for a proposed Safeway along East-West Highway at the University Town Center.
The approved 2006 detailed site plan for University Town Center already allows the construction of an 11 story grocery store and apartment complex along East-West Highway. The developer's modified proposal, which must be approved by the Prince George's Planning Board, strips out the proposed residential complex in favor of a two-story retail and commercial complex.
Regional market saturation in the rental and multifamily housing market figured considerably into the decision by developers to not pursue the mixed residential-commercial option, according to Matthew Tedesco, attorney for the Pittsburgh-based developer Echo Realty.
Tedesco reviewed the plans for the new grocery store before the council, saying that a Safeway could provide the "critical mass" needed to fully develop the University Town Center, which has had trouble filling commercial and residential spaces and drawing foot traffic in great numbers outside of the business day.
"Pivotal to the reasons for the failure of UTC to draw traffic…there is not clear line of demarcation that welcomes anyone in, or identifies itself as a retail center. More importantly, there is not an anchor," said Tedesco. "We can provide that key anchor."
Hyattsville City Council Member Robert Croslin (Ward 2) asked if the project would reduce the number of parking currently available at University Town Center.
Tedesco said that Safeway and the developer were very keen to make sure that enough parking was available for both grocery shoppers and those who might otherwise have used the parking lot which currently exists on the site of the proposed grocery store.
During the meeting, Tedesco also revealed that developers are looking to secure financial incentives before the project can go forward.
"We are in discussions with the county as far as [Economic Development Incentive] fund grants and other various programs for [transit-oriented development] projects like this," said Tedesco. "The price of land, price of construction and the price of the return on investment, all of those things factor into it."
Tedesco declined to discuss how much financial incentives developers are looking to secure before the project could go forward.