This story was updated at 5:23 p.m. Oct. 1
With his city on the cusp of a $60 million development project, Seat Pleasant Mayor Eugene Grant told a crowd of hundreds Saturday his residents should hold their heads up high.
Grant joined city and Prince George’s County officials to break ground on the 15-acre City Center project, which includes a new city hall, senior housing, a 24-hour health and wellness cente, and new recreation center projected for completion in two years.
“So for the naysayers who thought that this day wouldn’t come, for the negative people who spoke against us, for those who did not believe, I want you to know today is the beginning of a great day in Seat Pleasant, a city of excellence,” Grant said. “We are excited. We are moving forward, but the best is yet to come.”
The City Center project development team includes Vienna, Va.-based Kratos Infrastructure, which uses resources such as solar and wind energy to power new buildings in its development projects.
Wanda Shackelford, a city resident for 15 years, said the project shows the city has come a long way from being labeled as “bad” because of drug-related crime and house break-ins. Today, Shackelford said she sees city police patrolling the streets regularly to change that perception, and added the project respects the senior community and gives latchkey children a place to go.
“I’m so glad things have turned around and I’m proud to live in Seat Pleasant,” Shackelford said.
New City Center buildings will feature technology such as a natural gas-powered turbine and "building integrated photovoltaics," which is a solar wall that absorbs sunlight and converts it into electricity, said Becky Graham, a Kratos spokeswoman.
“These buildings are going to provide energy, which is unique in itself,” Graham said. “It’s going to be completely sustainable.”
The project, expected to bring in 300 jobs, will be financed through a long-term lease agreement, where the city will lease the new buildings back from Kratos, according to Kratos. The length and terms of the lease are still under discussion, Graham said.
The existing John. E. Feggans Center on the project site at 311 68th Place could be demolished in the late winter of 2013, said City Council President Kelly Porter (At large). The Feggans Center closed in 2009 because of needed repairs that included a new roof. With a new City Hall in the works, the Seat Pleasant Police Department will take over the existing City Hall building at 6301 Addison Road.
Katrina Robinson, a Seat Pleasant resident for 10 years, said she is excited to have more options for the Seat Pleasant Citizens Association to meet. She said if the Seat Pleasant Activity Center — a half-mile away from the project site — is booked up, they struggle to find a meeting place.
Robinson said she is also glad to see the City Hall get a “well deserved upgrade” and a new recreation center for the children, such as her 6-year-old granddaughter.
“At least I know my grandchild will have somewhere to go,” Robinson said.
More information about the project can be found at www.seatpleasantcitycenter.org.