LARGO – The future of Downtown Largo is taking shape, and county leaders are excited. Last Saturday, County Council Chair Derrick Davis hosted a community meeting at Prince George’s Community College entitled “Building Downtown Largo,” where representatives from the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and Retail Properties of America, Inc., (RPIA), which owns the […]
LARGO – The future of Downtown Largo is taking shape, and county leaders are excited.
Last Saturday, County Council Chair Derrick Davis hosted a community meeting at Prince George’s Community College entitled “Building Downtown Largo,” where representatives from the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and Retail Properties of America, Inc., (RPIA), which owns the Boulevard at the Cap Centre shopping center, talked about their plans to build up the area immediately adjacent to the Largo Town Center Metro Station.
“What we want to create is a downtown opportunity, a place where we have a 24-hour environment and where a sense of place occurs,” Davis said. “We wanted taller buildings than we had, we wanted mixed-use development, with retail to residential, commercial to office, we wanted it all. And we fought like heck to create a place that would make that happen.”
He said these ideas were included in the Largo Town Center sector plan as well as Plan 2035, but the planners agreed there needed to be an “explosive growth item” to kickstart development. The new regional medical center, set to break ground in November 2017, serves as that project.
Brad Seamon, a former chief administrative officer within Prince George’s County government who has been tapped to serve as chairman of the county’s UMMS affiliate, said the hospital will be “transformational and foundational” to the county.
“I believe this is the most transformational project that ever hit Prince George’s County,” he said. “This is a building block that Prince George’s County is going to use to bring more – more restaurants, more retail, more residents, more businesses – because when we get that coming here, we get the tax burden off the back of just the residents.”
Currently, about 25,000 county residents leave the state to seek medical care. Mark Wasserman, senior vice president for external affairs at UMMS, said every 5,000 patients who are seen at the hospital create 800 jobs.
UMMS announced at the meeting that the hospital’s official name will be University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center. According to Alison Brown, senior vice president of marketing, as of Sept. 1, when UMMS acquires Dimensions, the quasi-governmental entity that currently runs Prince George’s County hospitals, the names of the other properties will also bear the University of Maryland Capital Region brand. For example, University of Maryland Capital Region Bowie Health Center or any of the University of Maryland Capital Region Family Health and Wellness Centers.
“Some of the rationale for how we chose these words is, we wanted the name to celebrate the big vision that we have for people who are living not only in Prince George’s County, but southern Maryland, Northern Virginia, the District. We want people to think of this healthcare system that draws people from throughout the region,” Brown said.
The regional medical center will be built as a state-of-the-art facility, officials said. The building and construction will be LEED Silver, with a requirement that 25 percent of procurement opportunities go to local and minority businesses. Laura Kautz, the project manager for the regional medical center, said UMMS’s internal goal is 35 percent local and minority business participation, and they intend to meet that goal.
The hospital will stand 11 stories tall and include space for a behavioral health unit, labor and delivery, a neonatal intensive care unit, intensive care, operating rooms, radiology, the Mount Washington Pediatric practice and, new to the county, a comprehensive cancer center. In total, the plan includes 600,000-square feet for inpatient services and another 62,000-square foot building for outpatient services, with room for expansion in the future.
Kautz said the building is designed to make it easy for patients and families to get around. Patient-centered care also inspired the two healing gardens at the hospital, as well as the interactive patient portals accessible in each room. The portals allow patients to look up information about their prescriptions, find the names of their care team, view test results and any scheduled tests or appointments, order food and play games or watch movies to pass the time.
“This is what all hospitals will be moving to in the future, but there are very few in the nation that will have the level of patient and family engagement,” she said. “We will have the most integrated delivery of patient care for the 21st century.”
The system will also help staff maintain a better workflow and address any issues sooner with real-time alerts, Kautz said.
Service is expected to begin in March 2021.
Around that time, RPAI hopes to begin work on the Boulevard at the Cap Centre. The hospital will be built on approximately half of the land the current center sits on, and Craig Friedson, development manager for the eastern division of RPAI, said the other half will be torn down to start a more modern shopping center “from scratch.”
“When I look at retail, I don’t really think of it as retail. I think of it as a community gathering place,” he said. “We build buildings, but we really build communities.”
Freidson, a University of Maryland alumnus, said RPAI intends to maintain ownership of the property for the long-term. Although plans are still in the early stages, he presented some preliminary renderings showing the existing AMC Theater moved into the second floor of a new building, with other retail below it. The property would also include office and multi-family uses, and potentially a hotel. There are also two large, grassy plazas planned for community gathering and “four seasons programming.”
“They’ll be some nice areas for shade. I listened. I know there are some people that have mentioned that the current Boulevard is hot because it’s a big parking lot,” he said. “This here is roughly where we think a stage might go, or something that could be used as a stage. And so I know that there used to be a jazz series. We want to bring it back.”
The project will be renamed Indigo, to highlight the Metro Silver and Blue lines that come to Largo Town Center station, and a website providing information and updates for the community will be launched around Labor Day, Freidson said.
He stressed that RPAI is still in the very early stages of redevelopment and has not yet begun the process of getting approval from the planning board and District Council. The exact architecture and tenants for Indigo have not been determined either.
The Downtown Largo concept also includes relocating the county administration building to the area. The offices of the county executive and county council, as well as the department of parks and planning, will relocate within approximately the next two years.
Residents expressed concerns about environmental impacts from the hospital, the effects of the developments on property values and rent prices, as well as existing businesses and traffic. Davis said the plans include only market-rate housing right now, but the county is working on a comprehensive affordable housing plan. As for traffic, he said to expect changes.
“I want to prepare you, because it’s going to hurt a little. Traffic patterns will change,” Davis said. “There will be more traffic. People will come. A 24-hour environment will be happening, the hospital will be 10, 11 stories high. Think about it and suck it in now.”