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LARGO — The Prince George’s County Redevelopment Authority announced $1.7 million in available funding for its Commercial Property Improvement Program (CPIP) and discussed the application process for grants to go towards improvements to retail space with local shopping center owners on Jan. 3.
The CPIP is a new initiative with the goal of rebuilding the county’s commercial establishments. Through the program, the Redevelopment Authority will assist owners of shopping centers and main street retail space with improvements such as its exterior facade, placemaking, lighting and significant building system improvements to enhance competitiveness and viability.
This program will provide approved shopping centers and retail space with a matching grant where the applicant will pay for half of the total project costs while the CPIP will pay the other half with the minimum grant being $50,000 for $100,000 in total project cost and the maximum award being $350,000 for $700,000.
“I think it will be helpful to me primarily because few grants are given at the federal, state and local level for for-profit businesses,” said Dereck Whitaker, managing director of R. Paul Smith Companies. He recently purchased Rosecroft Shopping Center in Oxon Hill, and when he heard about the CPIP program, he thought it was very forward-looking and decided to attend the meeting.
The CPIP was met with great interest from local business owners. Only about 40 people originally RSVP’d to the meeting, however, the conference room at the Redevelopment Authority office in Largo was overflowing with nearly twice that amount of people comprised of shopping center and retail owners, contractors and Redevelopment Authority members.
Senior Manager for Redevelopment and Revitalization Rosalyn Clemens led the meeting explaining what the grants would be for, the criteria that would be used to pick the recipients and the application process.
“So basically this program was conceived as one of the ways that the county wants to provide some incentives to our shopping centers and retail property owners to upgrade their properties and make them more competitive regarding upgrading and attracting the retail that we want here in Prince George’s County,” Clemens said.
Applicants will be selected based on their market potential which includes unmet retail demand, strong competitive market and positive public image as well as promising site conditions that are characterized by proximity to public transit, good visibility and overall condition on the property.
Additionally, the scope of the work must include at least three of the CPIP’s eligible improvements that include the redesign and construction of the storefront facade, upgrade of major building systems, installation or improvement of signage and installation of public art and landscaping features.
To prioritize applicants, the CPIP will use the Retail Center/Assessment Matrix in the 2017 Prince George’s County Competitive Retail Market Strategic Action Plan. The action plan was created to find ways to develop and transform the county’s shopping centers and a key aspect of it was to identify the most attractive locations for high-quality retail.
Of those that they said showed the most potential are the Andrews Manor Shopping Center, Iverson Mall and a number of locations on Rhode Island Avenue in Mt. Rainier. Those that showed strong marketing potential but more challenging site conditions included Adelphi Plaza, Oxon Hill Shopping Center, and Riverdale Shopping Center.
Places like Bowie Town Center, Coral Hills Shopping Center, Kent Village Center and Suitland Road Plaza showed weaker market potential and more challenging sit conditions.
Jacqueline Philson, project facilitator, and manager of the 2017 Action Plan, detailed during the meeting the problems that the plan identified with retail in the county.
According to Philson, out of the 241 shopping centers in the county, 52 percent of them are at risk or failing. There is an overall surplus of retail space in Prince George’s County but the problems stem from the lack of quality in the shopping centers and the underserved middle class ultimately suffers.
“What they found was there is available demand for this space. We have a lot of retails spaces in Prince George’s County, some of it is suffering in terms of quality of the types of goods and the types of spaces,” Philson said.
The revitalization of the county’s shopping centers has been a priority of County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who said residents “deserve retail options that are of a high quality.”