The developers of a retail development in Brandywine unveiled plans for a new addition to the shopping center, including a 60,000-square-foot movie theater, restaurants and office space.
Representatives for North Carolina-based developer Faison sought resident feedback on plans for Phase 2 of Brandywine Crossing at a Sept. 13 community meeting in Clinton hosted by Prince George’s County Councilman Mel Franklin (D-Dist. 9) of Upper Marlboro. Phase 1 of the project, which opened in 2009, includes grocery chain Safeway, Costco, along with department stores Target and Marshall’s.
Although many of the estimated 100 residents in attendance said they were not entirely pleased with some of the tenants slated for the project, hoping instead for “higher profile” companies to come to southern Prince George’s such as restaurant P.F. Chang’s or organic grocery store Whole Foods, many applauded Faison’s efforts to keep residents informed of the project’s status.
Theresa Johnson, 83, of Upper Marlboro said she appreciated Faison asking the potential customers what they would like to see going forward.
“This is a whole new era in Prince George’s and I’ve been here for 35 years,” Johnson said. “Until now, most of the time we found out what was in the shopping center after it opened.”
Darren Corini, Faison’s director of retail development, highlighted some of the confirmed tenants, including theater company Great Escape, restaurant chains Fuddruckers and Cheddar’s and used car dealership Carmax. Corini added that his company is also working on securing medical office tenants.
But for some residents such as Robert Johnson, president of the Melwood Homeowners Association in Upper Marlboro, they had been hoping for the development to bring more high-end retail and entertainment options to the region.
“My worry is about the image of District 9,” Johnson said of his fear that companies don’t see southern Prince George’s County as a place where high-end businesses can thrive. “We don’t have a Whole Foods, we don’t have a Panera Bread. We need to step up to these higher range restaurants and we don’t need another fast food restaurant.”
But Franklin said the only way to attract high-end restaurants is to secure more office tenants to boost the potential daytime customer base.
“We don’t have the daytime employment to support them, since most people commute to Washington, D.C.,” Franklin said. “They need the lunch crowd, not just the dinner crowd.”
Franklin said he was hopeful southern Prince George’s would be able to support such businesses thanks to the promised $100 million investment over the next five years into Southern Maryland Hospital as part of Medstar Health’s merger with the hospital.
Improvements to the hospital, located less than six miles to the development, could provide the area with a better balance of daytime and evening customers, Franklin said.
But until then, he said residents need to show they will support businesses that enter the area.
“The best thing we can do is make sure this development is extraordinarily successful,” Franklin said. “That would send a message that there’s money to be made here. ... But if it fails, kiss goodbye any higher end anything.”
Joanne Molinari, director of financial services for Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Retail Development at Faison, said the company hopes the entirety of the development will be open within a year, with the theater opening in spring 2013.