Some locals may consider Largo to be downtown Prince George’s County with its town center and hot restaurants such as Carolina Kitchen. Others say it is Hyattsville, home to an arts district, government buildings and court house. But according to county planners, the rapidly growing area home to many professional African Americans has no designated downtown area.
The Prince George’s County Planning Department- Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) is slated to hold an interactive town hall meeting with residents, community and business leaders and elected officials on June 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to vote on the top three places to develop a downtown area for the county.
“Prince George’s County like many other jurisdictions is financially challenged and we don’t have money to spend on capital improvement projects in all of the various developing areas,” said Kierre McCune, project manager for M-NCPPC. “Having a designated downtown to focus our efforts is a more intelligent way to use our bucks.”
McCune said based on the last U.S. census, residents in Prince George’s County are redefining their lifestyles. He said the market is currently being driven by baby-boomers who are ready for smaller homes and young professional millennials, who do not drive, rely on the public transportation and want smaller homes in a greater proximity to work, restaurants and attractions.
In October 2002, the M-NCPCC released a general development plan for the county, identifying 26 centers of development and their impact on policy, planning and development in the transportation, public facilities, economic development, housing, urban design and historic preservation.
He said the planning department is now updating the plan with the 2010 U.S. census data to determine which centers are closest to being completed urban hubs and ranking them against one another.
David Iannucci, spokesperson for the Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, said creating a designated downtown area in the county will help to create a better, cleaner environment and generate revenue for the county to be used towards education and public safety.
“Prince George’s County is rapidly transforming from a suburban district to a more urban district,” said Iannucci. “The county executive has a vision for Prince George’s that builds around the Metro stations creating a mixed-use residential, retail and business area, where there are less cars and is more Metro friendly.”
Iannucci said this model will help to increase the density of the population in those areas making them hubs for development and financial capital for the county.
After the town hall hearing, the planning department will compile the information and release a new draft of the plan in September 2013. McCune said there will be another public hearing in November with county council and planning board and then a final approval in March 2014.
McCune said it is too early in the process to determine how much money will be allocated to the county’s development efforts and that they are still looking for the best downtown area. He said the criteria to narrow down the areas will be based on location and capacity,
“This is an opportunity for the public to talk about the next steps for implementing their vision for the county,” said McCune.