RIVERDALE – Construction for the highly anticipated Whole Foods Market as part of the new Riverdale Park Station is set to begin by the end of the month. The 61,000 square-foot building located in Riverdale Park next to University Park along Route One will not only be the county’s first Whole Foods, but one of […]
RIVERDALE – Construction for the highly anticipated Whole Foods Market as part of the new Riverdale Park Station is set to begin by the end of the month.
The 61,000 square-foot building located in Riverdale Park next to University Park along Route One will not only be the county’s first Whole Foods, but one of the few full-service supermarkets in the area. In 2013, the USDA identified Prince George’s County as a food desert, meaning residents, especially inside the Beltway, do not have sufficient access to fresh food.
When the news broke that Whole Foods would be coming to Riverdale Park as part of this larger project, Mayor Vernon Archer saw it as true sign of progress for the town.
“We’re very excited about it and looking forward to its completion,” he said. “It should have a very positive effect on the town’s finances, and we’re going to have nearby amenities that save us from having to get on the road at all.”
Washington D.C.-based real estate developer Calvin Cafritz Enterprises is undertaking the development of the Riverdale Park Station and plans on leasing nine buildings and 119 lots of townhouses across the 37-acre plot.
Construction for three of the sites’ retail buildings, which included a restaurant, health club and parking garage, is already underway, said Robert Lockhart, executive vice president of Capital Construction Consultants.
He said they expect to complete construction of those three retail spaces throughout the upcoming year.
Whole Foods is managing the construction of its store and can begin working on the interior because the building’s shell is completed. They said stocking the store and training employees will take approximately nine to 10 months after construction begins.
“There is more time in getting permits and getting the approval to construct than it actually takes to build the buildings,” said Lockhart, who is responsible for administration of the construction. “Buildings seven, eight and nine are quite a bit away. One through six are going much faster.”
The project gained steam in 2011 after developers filed for special zoning permits through the Prince George’s County Council. Other developments that are a part of the project include a Hyatt House hotel, apartments and town homes.
The developer of the townhouses anticipates beginning construction on its first lots prior to the end of August. The Hyatt House hotel is in the final stages of receiving zoning approval, according to Lockhart.
University Park, a community that is 100 percent residential, is in dire need of a place where its residents can come together, socialize and use amenities that would otherwise require a long drive, said Mayor Len Carey.
“This will bring us not just a grocery store but a decent grocery store and with it, all sorts of social space – places where people in town can get together for a cup of coffee or lunch, all within walking distance,” he said. “That’s a huge matter for us.”
Carey said the town has attracted new residents who are moving in in anticipation of the project’s completion. He echoed Archer’s sentiments, saying the Riverdale Park Station will be a huge economic stimulus for the surrounding area.
Archer said the town negotiated early on that there must be a direct connection between the Riverdale Park Station and the town center.
“That’s one of the things we’re really hoping for,” Archer said. “Our hope is that it will help spur some redevelopment in places that we feel really need it.”