The Westphalia Town Center looks like it’s going to be one behemoth of a development but sadly it’s not going to be anywhere near a metro station. Prince George’s County has some of the most underutilized metro stations in this region, actually THE MOST underutilized. But what about the fact that developments near urban areas suffer from the crime and urban related drama? Did you ever have the great misfortune of viewing a movie at Union Station when that theater was still open? It was a ghetto-sterotypical mess and it was right near a metro station just like the Magic Johnson Theaters at the Boulevard. And don’t think that I’m strictly coming for the disadvantaged, transit oriented development along the 14th Street NW corridor and Capitol Hill has created congested areas populated with unfriendly and unwelcoming people and dog-park-saturated-piss-stained-sidewalks. This extreme of transit oriented development has priced out the working class and families. I don’t want that either.
Slow but steady progress for Maryland’s employment outlook. August unemployment rates rose in 18 states and the District last month, fell in 17 and were unchanged in 15, according to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Maryland’s unemployment rate fell to 7.0 percent last month, from 7.1 percent in July. Maryland’s unemployment rate in August 2012 was 6.9 percent. Virginia’s August jobless rate was 5.8 percent, up from 5.7 percent in July, but down from 5.9 percent in August last year. The District’s unemployment rate rose to 8.7 percent in August. It was 8.6 percent in June and 8.9 percent a year earlier. Virginia’s labor force shrank by more than 12,000 jobs in August, while Maryland added 9,700 jobs last month. Maryland has now recovered 100 percent of the jobs lost in the national recession, according to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and regulation.-Washington Business Journal.
Some Riverdale Park residents will be salty, some will be sweet on this court action, but it looks like the Whole Foods development is coming no matter what. The Washington Post, “A Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge has dismissed an appeal to the rezoning of a 37-acre site in Riverdale Park where a developer plans to build a Whole Foods Market. The ruling clears out one of the biggest possible hurdles for the development of the property where county and town leaders envision the construction of a vibrant mixed-use community anchored by the high-end grocer. The $250 million project is now back in the District Council for another appeal, and the panel’s decision will determine whether the project can move forward with construction. The developer says plans are to start construction this fall and open the store in early 2015.” – Washington Post
Update from The WPost : The County Council, convening as the District Council to deal with land-use matters, voted 8 to 0 to allow the developer of the proposed $250 million project to move forward from what has been a lengthy and contentious approval process. Washington-based Calvin Cafritz Enterprises can now start seeking permits for plots and grading for the 37-acre site in Riverdale Park. Groundbreaking could take place as early as this fall, with the opening planned for early 2015.
Bill no. CB-74-2013, introduced by County Councilman Eric C. Olson on Sept. 17th would require restaurants with 5 or more locations to list calorie contents and sodium levels next to items on all their menus. “Over 70 percent of restaurants in Prince George’s are fast-food restaurants so this will capture the vast majority of restaurants in the county,” said Olson (D-Dist. 3) of College Park. In the Prince George’s Health Improvement Plan 2010 – 2014 Blueprint for a Healthier County, it is recommended that there be an increased access to healthier foods and to “adopt local policies to require chain restaurants to provide menu labeling that gives consumers information on nutritional values of in-store menu selections”. The bill is in response to the Prince George’s County’s disproportionately high diabetes and obesity rates, which are the highest in Maryland. The bill will affect a lot of fast-food restaurants, which Olson said are one of the primary sources of restaurant food in the county and he thinks that will help residents make healthier decisions. About 71 percent of Prince George’s County residents are obese or overweight, according to the county health department. Ultimately, it comes down to choices. If we’re loading our behinds into cars to go to these fast food traps, just make a couple of turns and haul it into a grocery store, buy something better and save your life. We will get better when we do better.
Within 10 minutes, two separate thefts happened at a Bowie gas station. Thieves crept up on unsuspecting customers as they pumped gas. The crooks crouched down and quickly entered unlocked cars as customers had their backs turned and pumped their gas. We’re all getting robbed at the gas station on price alone, now we have to look out for this too? It really ticks me all the way off. This is a crime of opportunity committed by young, stupid, common criminals. Be on the lookout and watch the video on PGC Blog for defensive measures.
GreaterGreaterWashington sees the Westphalia Town Center as a bad idea because it’s not in line with the Prince George’s County Planning Board’s recommendation for transit oriented development. The article gives a detailed background on how the development came to be under the grand poobah of corruption Jack Johnson. Canadian businessman William Doherty acknowledged that Westphalia’s location was a problem. “There will be 15,000 jobs at Westphalia…and there is no [transit] service,” he said. He wants the county or state to build a $75 million bus rapid transit line to the Branch Avenue Metro station and a $150 million new interchange at Pennsylvania Avenue and Suitland Parkway. Doherty said Walton is even “willing to” pay a portion of the cost.
I think the development can be salvaged with the partnerships withe Metro Transit Authority, Andrews Air Force Base, and a walkable design, but the fact remains that this development will be outside the beltway and not subway accessible. Does this bother you or are you ok with a humungous town center that isn’t accessible by metro? See the article HERE.