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After Spending $48M, Prince George's County Announces Additional $52M Investment in Suitland

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Prince George's County is taking the rare step of acting as master developer and investing roughly $100M to build a mixed-use town center in Suitland.

Rushern Baker Iverson Mall

The county has already spent $48M acquiring and demolishing a series of dilapidated properties in Suitland. It then spent another $1.5M for the land-use process and $1.3M for civil engineering. On Friday the county announced plans to invest another $52M in the next two years acquiring more properties and building the infrastructure and public utilities. 

Once it finishes these pre-development steps—ones typically paid for by private developers—the county hopes to find development partners to sell these "finished lots" so they can begin vertical construction without having to worry about land use, infrastructure or utilities. 

County executive Rushern Baker—who's speaking at Bisnow's Hottest Corridors event Oct. 9—says his administration was confident enough in the area's future to make this large of an investment despite private developers reluctance to invest in the early stages.

"Private developers were looking and saying 'well, why should we take a chance?'" Baker told Bisnow after an event announcing the Suitland investment and renovations to the Iverson Mall. "We’ve got a great history with our redevelopment authority, we’ve got a great bonding capacity with our revenue authority. We know this is prime to take off, we know this is the hottest area, so we’ll act as the master developer and see if we can get interest, and now we’re starting to see that."

Suitland Development Plan

The project plan, above, calls for 1,118 residential units, divided among three, market-rate multifamily buildings, one senior living building, 219 townhouses and two single-family detached houses. The housing will be complemented by 80k SF of retail. 

The county hopes to break ground next year on the infrastructure work and would like to see vertical construction by 2018, Prince George's County Redevelopment Authority executive director Howard Ways said.

Howard says they are in talks with private developers and look forward to announcing new partners soon. Howard expects the townhouses to come out of the ground first, followed by the senior housing and then the mixed-use buildings. 

Howard Ways Prince George's County Redevelopment Authority

To help finance the pre-development acquisitions and construction, the county is getting $28M from a tax increment financing bond, Howard (above) said. He said the project is the largest single investment from the county government in the area, which will allow it to make sure the project fits in with the larger plan for the county.

"Because we put together the master plan, we wanted to ensure that the site development adhered to the master plan to a T," Howard said. "So we took on the responsibility of doing the master plan development." 

Suitland development

The development will also include community parks, rendered above, and a performing arts center. 

Baker envisions Suitland as an attractive, walkable community. He says the first steps to achieve this before any development could begin was improving transit and reducing crime

"The Green Line’s already built," Baker said after the event. "Federal workers are here already and they’re bringing more. The critical mass is right here, what needs to happen around it is the quality of life outside of those gates. So we knew that if we could make it safe here—which we have, crime is down—if we invested in infrastructure and we put our money, our skin in the game, that it would work."  

Derrick Davis Prince George's County Council

The development site sits next to the Suitland Federal Center, home to agencies including the US Census Bureau, the Naval Maritime Intelligence Center, NOAA satellite operations and, most recently the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Just this month, the GSA announced the US Citizenship and Immigration Services would move to Prince George's County, near the Branch Ave Metro, not far from the Suitland development site. 

County Council chair Derrick Davis (above) said these federal workers bring new opportunity to the area and the county should help provide quality housing and encourage further investment. 

"This is all about the commercial tax base on the rise in Prince George’s County," Davis said. "Taking advantage of our opportunities and making our community the place to be." 

Tim Donavon Iverson Mall

The announcement took place at the Iverson Mall, where the county also announced it was giving a $4M loan from its economic development incentive fund to help with the mall's $57M redevelopment. 

The project will transform the façade of the mall, which is owned by West End Capital and operated by America's Realty, to include outward-facing, quick-service and full-service restaurants.

"It will be rebuilt to create a main street where families can come, shop, eat and congregate for lunch and dinner on the weekends and all the time," America's Realty development director Tim Donovan said.