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Blumberg's Dreams
Photo: Barb Ballard
In 1954, Herschel W. Blumberg bought more than 50 acres in the northern part of Prince George’s County in Maryland. In the midst of a drowsy suburban community, he dreamed of a mixed-use community. He wanted to create a town-like center that included office buildings, restaurants, residences, and retail establishments.

Following 50 years of work, the 82-year-old Blumberg is seeing his dream come to fruition. The final stages of development are now underway. Shortly, construction will begin on a high-rise student housing complex that will accommodate more than 900 students. Several major restaurants and upscale retailers have signed contracts for space. A well-known grocery store chain expects to complete construction of a “lifestyle” store in 2008.

Early on, Blumberg was able to build office complexes. Currently there are four office buildings and about 5,000 workers, many of whom work for government agencies. Access to the area improved enormously with the completion of the Hyattsville Metro station, a link to the high speed transit system that stretches throughout the greater Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia region. But the rest of his dream of other kinds of community elements eluded him until the dawn of a new millennium.

Growth Challenges

As the population in the region skyrocketed during the second half of the 20th Century, property values rose, and demand for more affordable housing increased. In response, the number of multiple-family residential buildings such as condos and cooperative housing communities increased. In the Hyattsville Town Center, two condo buildings are being built.

In addition, a 910-bed student housing complex is under construction. It will attract students from educational institutions such as Howard University, Catholic University and the University of Maryland (its sprawling campus with more than 25,000 students is located about a mile away.). Students residing on the upper floors of the complex will enjoy panoramic views, including the distinctive profiles of the National Cathedral and the Washington Monument.

Where people live and work, there is desire for accessible shopping and leisure activities, and the town center model of development includes these elements. With a large indoor mall nearby, Hyattsville Town Center will feature a dynamic mix of national restaurants and retailers in a people-friendly area of wide sidewalks, fountains, and pocket parks. The end result will be well worth the 50 years it took to achieve.

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