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Exclusive: UIP Plans 260-Unit Mixed-Use Project In Hyattsville

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A major new development could soon be coming to the Prince George's County Route 1 corridor, courtesy of Urban Investment Partners

The Rail Yard Apartments Hyattsville UIP

UIP is in the process of acquiring a series of adjacent lots across from the Hyattsville Arts District with plans to build a 260-unit mixed-use project.

The Rail Yard Apartments, as the project is currently branded, is planned in two phases. The first will be the 260-unit building with ground-floor retail fronting Route 1, which UIP aims to break ground on early next year. The developer is still working to assemble parcels for Phase 2, which would be built along Hamilton Street, and it has not released details on those plans. 

Before it goes through the entitlement process, UIP still has one remaining parcel to acquire for Phase 1. UIP principal Steve Schwat said he is in talks with the owner and expects to acquire the lot soon. The remainder of the site consists of vacant buildings and a parking lot, which Hyattsville is leasing to UIP so the developer can build a 464-space parking garage and return the ground level to the city for public parking.

A restaurant, Pike El Chalateco, had been in one of the buildings on the site, but it closed more than a year ago, and the landlord sold the property to UIP.

UIP secured a loan from EagleBank for the acquisition and entitlement process. It is seeking an institutional investor as a partner for the construction phase of the project. Schwat said rents in DC have gotten so high that there is not much room for growth, and he likes Hyattsville because it is just two miles from the District but is still affordable.

“There’s not a lot of profit to be made building new in DC," Schwat said. "But if you look outside DC, you’ve got these tertiary markets that still have growth available, and therefore the thought is that’s where you should be investing."  

Hyattsville Arts District Busboys Yes Market

The project's first phase would have 33K SF of ground-floor retail. It sits across the street from the Arts District Hyattsville, a mixed-use development that EYA built in 2011. The development has more than 500 residential units between two multifamily buildings and townhouses, plus a retail center with a Busboys and Poets, Yes! Organic Market, Elevation Burger, Chipotle and Jimmy John's. About a block down the street is Franklin's, a popular brewery and restaurant, and Vigilante Coffee. 

Prince George's County economic development official Brad Frome said the Arts District development has been successful and created vibrancy in the neighborhood.

"Franklins started it and Busboys accelerated it," Frome said. "It has created a sense of place down in Hyattsville. It created a sense of energy. UIP investing in it shows this is getting traction. There’s velocity behind what’s going on there, and this is just a further testament to it."

Frome said the added density of UIP's project would help continue the momentum by creating a greater center of gravity for the area. He would like to see UIP's retail include restaurants and unique shops to bring more people in. 

"We want to see places that get you to say 'let’s go spend the afternoon, let’s go spend the evening in Hyattsville, not just to grab a meal and leave, not just for groceries, let's go out and have that meal and then stay and walk around and be part of it,'" Frome said. 

Schwat said he expects to have some neighborhood-serving retail, like banks and dry cleaners, but much of the Route 1-facing space will be food and beverage operators. 

"We're creating a giant plaza, and so we think that will be sort of compelling directly across from Busboys and everything," Schwat said.  

UIP's development site is also just two miles down Route 1 from the University of Maryland - College Park, making it a short drive for students who often enjoy Sunday brunch at Busboys. Halfway between the site and UMD is Cafritz Enterprises' Riverdale Park Station, a major new development, anchored by a Whole Foods that opens on April 12, that is already boosting interest in the area. 

UIP is also working on two projects near universities in the District. The developer bought three American University office buildings last February with plans to convert two of them to apartments. It also bought a former George Washington University dorm on Virginia Avenue and is launching a $44M renovation to turn it into an apartment building. 

CORRECTION, MARCH 30, 9:00 A.M. EST: Hyattsville is leasing the parking lot to UIP not giving it to them, as a previous version of this story stated. The story has been updated.