GLENN DALE – County residents provided their recommendations to members of the Prince George’s County Council, Prince George’s County Parks and Recreation and the redevelopment team on what they would like to see on the Glenn Dale Hospital site as officials begin their search for a developer.
The open house, which took place at the Glenn Dale Community Center, was a restart of the process to redevelop on the property, which has been closed since 1982 due to asbestos.
The process of developing on the property, a 207-acre property with 25 structures and woodlands, was stalled for years because of an original requirement put on the hospital by state legislators when they sold the property to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), the umbrella organization that contains the county’s Parks and Recreation, that only a continuing-care retirement community could be built on the land.
This past spring, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill removing the requirement after real estate and historical preservation organization The Alexander Company performed a feasibility study in 2018 that stated that it would take too long of a process to continue the retirement community aspect of the deal and the county would lose money in the process.
“This will no longer be a CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community),” David Vos, development project manager for the Alexander Company said. “So, start to think about what is possible here because you can have multiple opportunities here.”
Officials attempted to stress that it was a refresh of the process by going over the timeline of events and explaining the passage of the new law eliminating of the retirement community requirement. Only 60 acres of the site, which is the hospital’s entire campus, would be a part of the redevelopment project.
In his presentation, Vos showed the possible potential in the property by providing images of redeveloped properties the organization helped established. One of the biggest projects that the company has been a part of was the reuse of the National Park Seminary in Silver Spring, which became a housing development with the restoration of the ballroom .
When the National Park Seminary was referenced, Greg Reaves, 58, immediately believed that brining a biotech company into the Glenn Dale Hospital site, based on his job experienced as a real estate developer, would be the best idea. He said it would be a win-win as it would add jobs as well.
However, Reaves and his friend, Emerson Hamilton, voiced their desire of bringing in more destination items to the county, like sports complexes and recreation centers.
“I think the site is big enough for technology and recreation,” Reaves said. “I am a big believer in job creation for future employment, in particular this county in places where it is growing. You can develop something while providing opportunities for people who live in this area.”
At the start of the open mic portion of the open house, residents asked questions about the developer’s assessment of the land, the price on rebuilding on the property, the use of local companies and the lack of diversity on display in Alexander Company’s team. Sonja Ewing, planning supervisor for M-NCPPC, clarified that there is no developer yet and that the open house was a forum to give out ideas on what the community wants on the property.
“The outcome we want to have is a viable plan that can be submitted to the county in the site plan process, a vehicle that helps us understand which of these buildings can be adaptively reuse in that process and a plan that is economically viable so a development team would be comfortable going from where we are today into implementing change on that site,” Ewing said. “That is what we hope to get and we know there are a lot of steps but today is the day where were are saying ‘come partner with us in this discussion.’”
Once there was clarity in what officials were looking for in the public, residents began giving ideas. Linda Banks, who has lived in the Glenn Dale Community since 2003, requested that whoever is the developer to make sure that the area is “environmentally safe” for everyone to use and to provide options for senior citizens to buy smaller housing.
“I am an empty nester,” Banks said. “I don’t need a big house.”
However, the majority of residents objected more housing developments and encouraged more local retail to come in the area. Theresa Clark-James, 65, asked for more kid-friendly areas, like hiking trails and playing fields to be constructed. She said the county has enough developments, referencing projects in Woodmore, Bowie and Greenbelt as examples.
“We have enough residential in this county,” Clark-James said. “You will soon start creating houses on top of houses.”
Other residents mentioned the addition of an amphitheater to bring more entertainment in an area that is mostly “housing and trees.”
However, some residents, like Clyde Springfield, 55, was not sure on how to take the “nuts and bolts” way the forum was discussed. He said he hopes that they listen to the people in live the community who would like to see change done on the site.
“This achieved their objective but I hope that they will listen,” Springfield said. “There are some things we don’t want and we have been fooled in the past by development but hopefully, we will be fine.”
Officials took all the suggestion provided during the open house and will take them with them during the site survey process. Following the survey, another open house opportunity with Glenn Dale residents will take place in the spring. Updates on the project will be posted on glenndalehospital.com.