UPPER MARLBORO – With the Prince George’s Hospital Center (PGHC) set to close once the regional medical center in Largo opens, the county is looking at options for the PGHC property – and the rest of Cheverly. The county’s planning department has worked on a Greater Cheverly Sector Plan over the course of several months. […]
UPPER MARLBORO – With the Prince George’s Hospital Center (PGHC) set to close once the regional medical center in Largo opens, the county is looking at options for the PGHC property – and the rest of Cheverly.
The county’s planning department has worked on a Greater Cheverly Sector Plan over the course of several months. The preliminary document was approved for printing by the planning board and county council, and those two bodies had a joint public hearing about the preliminary plan on March 28. Residents in attendance expressed support for the overall goals of the plan, but requested some small changes to how the PGHC site is treated.
The overall goal, County Council Chairman Derrick Davis said, is to guide future growth and redevelopment in the area.
“The sector plan provides a new vision to guide future growth, redevelopment and revitalization,” he said. “If approved, the sector plan will set the stage for long-term redevelopment to revitalize the area and enhance the quality of life for years to come.”
Planning staff worked with Cheverly residents, as well as members of surrounding neighborhoods like Radiant Valley, Landover Knolls, Englewood, Oaklyn and Newton Village, on the proposal.
Project Manager Susan Hartmann outlined the nine areas of focus in the preliminary proposal, which are landuse, economic prosperity, transportation and mobility, the natural environment, housing and neighborhoods, healthy communities, public facilities, community heritage and culture and design.
“The vision: in 2030, the greater Cheverly area is an attractive, vibrant destination of choice in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region,” Hartmann said. “It is a gateway to Prince George’s County that boasts thriving commercial districts, high-quality employment opportunities, and innovative industries. It is distinct, with identifiable residential neighborhoods that include housing opportunities for singles and couples, families, and the elderly and is rich with historic sites and resources.”
Some specific possibilities included in the plan are to create a walkable main street along MD 202, look into the possibility of creating a historic district for the area, add pedestrian and bike-friendly amenities and wayfinding aides, and support industrial areas near Arbor and Tuxedo Drives. The plan also indicates potential new uses for Fairmont Heights High School, a designated Prince George’s County Historic Site. The school is set to close after the current school year is over, with students moved to a new facility on South Club Drive. The Greater Cheverly Sector Plan proposes a task force of community, school system and nonprofit representatives to “develop an adaptive re-use plan” that allows the building to remain “a hub for community engagement” and avoids leaving it sit vacant, which could lead to blight or vandalism.
The plan also presents several alternatives for the PGHC site. All of the alternatives include the Gladys Noon Spellman Specialty Hospital & Nursing Center and the county Health Department building as they currently exist, since they “will remain in use on the site following relocation” of PGHC. They all feature residential development, with various combinations of single-family, townhome and apartment units, as well as an emphasis on making the site more easily accessible for the surrounding neighborhoods. The various scenarios include reuse of the hospital tower as a hotel, the construction of a senior living facility, or the addition of retail.
However the plan also states precisely what the redevelopment of the site, or any other in the area, would look like depends in large part on “market needs and property owners.”
Much of the public comment at the hearing revolved around those two sites. Residents say the PGHC site in particular represents an opportunity to further the plan’s natural environment and sense of place goals.
“The views and vistas from hospital hill, owned by the county, are spectacular. They are well-known to the community, and if fully considered, and developed and branded, they could substantially enhance the value of the site to the community, to the county and to a private developer who could come in,” Dan Smith said.
He suggested the county could add a public feature like an observation tower and connect the site to the larger Anacostia trail.
Another resident, Nathan Zapf, also emphasized connectivity, requesting bike pads along the US 50 corridor and increased pedestrian access to Landover Metro station, perhaps through bridges.
He also said more early-childhood education options are needed in the area.
“The only limiting factor that I can see to keeping me and my wife in Cheverly is public education,” Zapf said. “If I can just ask, along with the prioritization for the Fairmont (Heights) High School site, bolstering the public education choices, particularly as it relates to pre-K and kindergarten. That’s a natural education site and opportunity.”
Mayor Mike Callahan of the town of Cheverly said, overall, he felt the sector plan was a very good opportunity for the community.
“I’m so incredibly pleased that we have this plan,” he said. “This area is just prime right now. We have really stable communities. We have an outstanding transportation network that allows anybody here to be proximate to anything they want to be proximate to.”
He added two asks of the council as well: efforts in the plan to help increase the partnership between the town and the industrial areas that border it, and a plan to address the truck traffic coming from those areas. Part of that should include improving the Columbia Park Bridge, Callahan said.
Councilwoman Andrea Harrison, who represents the area and who got the sector plan project off the ground, said the bridge was the state’s responsibility to repair, not the county’s.
She also said that it will take time for any of the proposals in the plan to come to fruition.
“Even if we do adopt (the plan) in September, that doesn’t mean anything is going to happen in September, November, December. You probably won’t see something until maybe next year moving, but who knows,” Harrison said. “Just stay tuned, continue to work with us, and understand that patience may be needed.”