Hyattsville demolishes buildings, paves way for new parking -- Gazette.Net







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Tracey Ham of Hyattsville said on Fridays it’s not uncommon for her to be a stalker at Hyattsville’s Shoppes at Arts District on Route 1. Finding a parking spot, she said, can sometimes be a 15-minute process and has sometimes discouraged her from shopping there.

“I just circle around and around and stalk people until I find a spot,” Ham said.

Hyattsville officials are looking to relieve the parking crunch for Ham and other patrons by adding approximately 200 additional parking spaces one block south on Hamilton Street, said Jim Chandler, assistant city administrator.

The project, expected to take at least a year, began July 30 with the demolition of three vacant buildings along Hamilton Street, paving the way for structured parking area.

That was good news to Robert Thomas, manager of the upscale pet supply store Big Bad Woof in the Shoppes at Arts District shopping center.

“All the shops here need more parking,” Thomas said. “This center’s growing and people want to come shop here, but they also want to be able to park.”

Donna Moore of Glenn Dale, leaving the Busboys and Poets restaurant on July 30, said parking at the shopping center is a huge challenge.

“Usually it’s crazy hard to find a parking space. It’s pretty busy all day,” Moore said, adding that it usually takes her at least 10 minutes to find a parking space. “But it still probably won’t be enough.”

The demolition will take approximately four to six weeks, said Beverly Burnham, president of Excalibur Site Services, the Baltimore-based company working to demolish the buildings and remove the rubble.

Chandler said the buildings were acquired by the city last year using a $350,000 Strategic Demolition Smart Growth grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

David Iannucci, senior economic policy advisor to County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), said the need for more parking is a sign of the positive growth that has taken place over the past 10 to 15 years along the Route 1 corridor.

“Once, there were old used care lots. Now there are vibrant businesses and restaurants,” Iannucci said. “The good news is everyone wants to come here; everyone wants to shop here. The challenge now is to find where to park them.”

The city instituted metered street-side parking in 2012, but Chandler said that was always intended as a stopgap measure until more parking could be added on Route 1.

Chandler said the new parking would most likely be fee parking, and that funding for the new parking would likely include multiple funding sources and partnership with other entities.

Mike Franklin, owner of Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store on Baltimore Avenue, said business growth is not possible without more parking.

“No new business owners want to move in without more parking, so we’re kind of stuck at the level we’re currently at,” Franklin said.