Mount Rainier mulls mixed-use site -- Gazette.Net


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Mount Rainier residents and officials want the city’s upcoming mixed-use space to make a statement and suggested developers consider an artistic look and iconic sign that welcomes people to Prince George’s County from the Washington, D.C., border.

Representatives from Bethesda-based StreetSense and the Neighborhood Development Company, a District-based group that focuses on urban neighborhood revitalization, shared their plans at a June 4 City Council meeting to build a mix of residential and retail in the 3200 block of Rhode Island Avenue.

City officials selected Streetsense to develop the property last November.

Guy Silverman, president of StreetSense — the company that developed Hyattsville’s Arts District — unveiled the current plans for a six-story structure with 191 apartments, 20,000 square feet of retail space and 270 parking spaces mostly contained in a parking garage.

The residential area will be mostly one-bedroom units, with some two-bedroom units and a few studio style apartments, said Bruce Leonard, a head architect in the design of the project.

The developers will hold more meetings to get resident and council feedback in the coming months.

“They were lacking for me in terms of their artistic look,” said Mayor Malinda Miles. “They also did not meet my expectation of a signature building that represents an entry to Prince George’s County or a gateway to the nation’s capital.”

Councilman Jesse Christopherson (Ward 1) suggested an iconic sign that would introduce people to Mount Rainier and help establish the city as a destination.

“The idea comes from signs I saw around San Diego, where I grew up,” Christopherson said.

Some residents were concerned how the building design would impact the community long-term.

“I’m here to strongly advocate for a smaller scale project that maintains the integrity of our very unique town and community,” said Jes Ellis, a resident teacher looking to buy a home on the 3100 block of Perry Street, which lies behind the lot used for the StreetSense project. “Six stories is simply not going to work for us.”

When the council and development team come to an agreement on a plan, the county’s and state’s approval could take more than a year until completion, Bolin said. After approval, the construction process will begin.

Silverman could not be reached by phone or email for further comment.

“This is an issue that will affect the entire Mount Rainier community, continuing discussion and debate during council meetings for years,” Miles said.

dmoroses@gazette.net