Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Little public testimony given on changes to Landover Mall site

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While many attended a Jan. 21 joint public hearing on the Landover Gateway Sector Plan, a development expected to bring office, retail and residential space to the empty Landover Mall site, few gave comments about the project.

Christine Osei of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, who is project manager for the Landover Gateway Sector Plan Project, said more than 200 people attended the hearing in Upper Marlboro, but only 13 submitted testimony. Glenarden City Councilwoman Pamela Lampley-Shahzad was the only elected official who attended the hearing. Glenarden is the closest municipality to the project.

Lampley-Shahzad said in a phone interview Friday that city officials received invitations to the hearing from the County Council. She said she does not know why other council members did not attend.

“We talked periodically off and on about the project as it was developing,“ Lampley-Shahzad said. “We went to several of the charrettes. I do know the council members support the project. But as far as doing the consensus of the council, we haven’t done that yet.“

Lampley-Shahzad said she wants to see government facilities, office buildings and high-end department stores like Macy’s move into the empty space. She said others at the meeting share her goal of revitalizing the area.

“They’re looking for a downtown Prince George’s to keep money [in] the county and have somewhere to go that is classy and not something that makes you feel like holding your valuables,“ Lampley-Shahzad said. “We’re looking for a change.“

Osei said she hopes the project will include a pedestrian bridge across I-495 that would link development from the Landover Mall site to the planned Woodmore Towne Centre at Glenarden, a separate project expected to open in spring 2009.

The plan covers the 88-acre old Landover Mall site, the Landover Crossing Shopping Center on Route 202 and Maple Ridge and Glenarden Apartments on Brightseat Road. The only remaining open store on the mall site is a Sears department store.

Osei said written testimony will be accepted until 5 p.m. Feb. 6. Comments should be submitted to the clerk of the council at the County Administration Building, Room 2198, 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive, Upper Marlboro. The city planned to discuss the project at a Jan. 29 budget meeting, Shahzad said.

At the Jan. 21 public hearing, Warren Elliott, Lerner Properties zoning director and the managing partner of Brightseat Associates, LLC, which owns the Landover Mall site, and urban design architect David Kitchens offered support for the project.

“How often does a major project like this come along that’s going to have this much impact on the county?“ Elliott said. “It’s going to be huge. And we are so excited about being involved.“

Osei said testimony would be compiled and presented to the county Planning Board in March.

After the Planning Board reviews the testimony, it will be sent to the District Council in May with any suggestions for changes. The plan could be approved and moved from the conceptual to adopted phase if the council agrees with the board’s recommendations.