I recently attended a public information event in Beltway Plaza about their planned redevelopment, and came away excited about the project, and impressed that the investment community is showing so much interest in West Greenbelt.
The redevelopment is far more than a new, updated look – though it sure needs that. (It opened in 1963.) A hand-out we were given called the planned Beltway Plaza a “multi-use, pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, environmentally sustainable and community-connected redevelopment of the shopping center.” And project director Alex Villegas called “a great lifestyle center.”
Greenbelt Access TV’s Phoebe McFarb was there and recorded the presentation plus Q&A here for everyone to watch.
The event presented the “Detailed Site Plan Phase 1,” which will begin construction in the spring and summer of ’22, will develop the rear of the mall along Breezewood Drive, what’s now an underutilized parking lot behind the AMC Theatre. Phase 1 will include:
- 750 residential units (rentals now, but a mix with for-sale units is hoped for).
- A 92-room hotel.
- A 27,000 square foot Recreation Hall for the use of all Greenbelters.
Learn more here on the website of the Rodgers Consulting developer – the same firm that developed the Verde Apartments in West Greenbelt. It’s taken three years of planning and approval-seeking to get to this point. Here’s a short video.
- The environmental improvements are many: more open space, lots of trees, real stormwater management (including extensive use of silva cells), and EV charging stations in the structured parking garages.
- Landscape features like an amphitheater open to all for relaxation and events, an “Orchard Park” of trees; an “Art Walk” through the development; screening of the parking structures with art, building materials and plants; and more.
- Easy access for neighbors. The plan incorporates residents (especially at Franklin Park) as potential shoppers right on the property with a short walk to shopping, et cetera. This could stabilize the mall and help small business tenants to thrive. A triangular park on Breezewood Drive will buffer Franklin Park residents and provide another recreation area.
- The donated Recreation Center, which will accommodate indoor soccer and football practice fields, volleyball, badminton, pickle ball, fitness, yoga, lockers and changing rooms and offices.
- Fans of small businesses like myself may be concerned that post-redevelopment, the rents could drive out some of the existing tenants. When asked about this, Kap Kapistan responded that “We will accommodate our small business tenants in the redevelopment as we have done for the past 25 years and during this pandemic. We do not churn or price out our tenants to achieve higher rents and we will do our best to relocate small business tenants as we redevelop and renovate the shopping center.” This confirms my growing understanding that Beltway Plaza is committed to its Mom and Pop tenants, who are a uniquely international bunch.
- With final build-out, a much-needed sidewalk along Greenbelt Road will connect to bike paths! Plus, Greenbelt Road will be planted with street trees and the entrance at Boston Market will be altered to slow down incoming vehicular traffic for pedestrian and bicyclist safety. (Image above.)
Ric Gordon, a candidate for Greenbelt City Council and a prominent resident of Franklin Park, spoke during the meeting (at 28:52 on the video,). calling the plan “a great thing for this city” and “smart development.”
Kapistan suggests two ways for project supporters to help the project win approval:
- Appear before the Greenbelt City Council when it discusses Phase 1 at its meeting Monday, August 9 (8 pm.).
- Send a letter of support for the DSP Phase 1 to the Mayor and Councilmembers (mail to email@example.com.) The deadline for public comment is Thursday, August 5.
Full Disclosure: Greenbelt Online, a nonprofit community service, received a donation from Beltway Plaza in 2019. Plaza management supports a long list of good causes in Greenbelt, in addition to major support for Greenbelt Access Television, Free Art for All, and Greenbelt Association for Visual Arts..