Thursday, April 24, 2014 7:54 PM
Published on: Wednesday, July 03, 2013
By Nicole Jones
Prince George’s County residents and members of the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission voted that New Carrolton would be a top destination for a downtown Prince George’s County and Largo Town Center would be a game changer during a June 15 town hall.
The project, known as Plan Prince George’s 2035, is an update of the 2002 Prince George’s County Approved General Plan. Naming a downtown Prince George’s is only a small part of the General Plan.
“We want to be competitive with our neighboring counties and focus our efforts on having more commercial offices and retail developments,” said Sonja Ewing, planner coordinator for Prince George’s County Planning Department.
The Plan Prince George’s 2035 planning committee members hope a downtown Prince George’s County will create economic, social and environmental effects that use the Smart Growth Strategy.
“Essentially, this provides residents with jobs inside the county. If you work in the county you have a shorter commute, which brings more free time with family and recreation and less money that you have to spend on a commute. With the Smart Growth Strategy we are protecting our rivers and not driving on the road so much,” said Kierre McCune, project manager for Prince George’s County General Plan.
The New Carrolton Metro Station is home to Amtrak, Greyhound, the metro bus and the metro rail.
“It would be nice for the community because we really don’t have anything, and the community would support it,” said Roger Alston, Bowie resident.
But, some residents are concerned that creating a downtown Prince George’s County will increase the crime rate.
“What kind of protection would we have in this area? There’s too much happening for this to be a downtown area right now,” said Curtly Butler, Largo resident.
The planning committee wants residents to focus on the new opportunities.
“Having a downtown does bring a lot of people together and one consequence can be crime, but it shouldn’t defer people from this active idea,” Ewing said.
The Boulevard at the Capital Centre contains many retail stores, restaurants and a Magic Johnson Theatre, all which draw frequent business to the area. Largo is also a prospective location for a new regional hospital that may have helped gain the top vote for potential game changer.
“People see that project as transformative that can draw and create a new economy with people who work in medical offices,” Ewing said.
Still in its beginning stages, residence should not expect to see the actual project being built too soon.
“Something of this scale can often take about 20 years, but short-term goals can be met in five years,” McCune said.
The other four locations being considered for downtown Prince George’s County includes Greenbelt, College Park, Prince George’s Plaza and Branch Avenue.
College Park and Prince George’s Plaza were also considered to be top potential locations.