The top economic priority in Prince George’s County, Maryland, is the redevelopment of the Blue Line corridor — parts of which, county leaders say, haven’t been developed since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.
Millions of dollars are being invested to change that, and while some the money is coming from bonds authorized by the state, a lot more is coming from developers who live in the county and are already at work.
The future home of the Prince George’s County Department of Health and Human Services sits in the Hampton Park area of Central Avenue, technically considered Capitol Heights, since it sits just inside the Capital Beltway.
That’s where County Executive Angela Alsobrooks stood, flanked by a number of Black developers who have either already broken ground, or plan to soon, on projects that stretch from Largo to Seat Pleasant.
The news conference was meant to tout the enormous level of money invested by Black developers, as well as the opportunities that still exist.
“We have $769 million in private investment by Black developers,” touted Alsobrooks.
She also added that people should “get in now,” for development opportunities.
“It’s moving, it’s happening, this is soon to be an amenity rich area, but the opportunities are here today,” said Alsobrooks.
The transformation started years ago on the ground Alsobrooks was standing on Tuesday, but over her left shoulder, vacant stores from yesteryear still stood, waiting their turn for redevelopment.
Leading that project is Brandon Bellamy, who grew up throughout central Prince George’s County, graduated from nearby Central High School, and still lives in the county. Working to revitalize the place he calls home means all that more to him.
“We shouldn’t have 40 years where our Metro stations are underdeveloped, right?” he asked.
“There’s a lot of opportunity here. There’s a lot of money that can be made. You can do good and do well, too. So you can come to these communities, you can invest, and it becomes synergistic, right? You can have one development that feeds another development, that can feed another development, and they don’t have to cannibalize each other for resources,” Bellamy said.
Other developers who spoke included Omar Karim of Banneker Ventures, Anthony Wash of A Wash and Associates, and Lloyd Blackwell and Jacqueline Alexander of Harambee Development Group and The Community Builders.
Together, those groups are combining to build over 1,500 residential units and close to 200,000 square feet of retail space, stretching between Lottsford Road and the Addison Road Metro station.
Alsobrooks said in the future, the transit-oriented development coming will be the county’s own version of what area residents already see along the Wilson Boulevard stops in Arlington, and Red Line stops in Montgomery County.
“If you look at Silver Spring, they chose smart growth,” she said. “Now, Silver Spring is a destination rich with amenities.”
Alsobrooks added, “The same is true for Ballston, Rockville and other successful Metro station projects across the WMATA system.”
“Now these well-thought out communities bring amenities and housing that people want. They grow the tax base helping to shore up budgets and provide new services and they attract residents from across the DMV with new, exiting options for activities,” she said. “In fact, our residents leave the county just to visit these places.”
“What we are really seeking to change is, we want them to enjoy those amenities here at home,” Alsobrooks added.
It’s a vision that Bellamy bought into early on.
“When you think about what something is, and you consider what it could be, to see it come to fruition is really important,” he said. “I love the people of Prince George’s County.”