UPPER MARLBORO – Another vacant office building in Prince George’s County may soon be home to hundreds of Prince Georgians.
Renovations may soon take place at a vacant office building in the Constellation Centre in Oxon Hill as the owners of the building look to make new use of the space. The renovation of the building, located just off the Beltway on Oxon Hill Road, would turn the 10-story 215,704-square foot office space into 187 multi-family units called The Oxford, according to Prince George’s County Planning Department staff reviewer Taslima Alam.
“Mainly the applicant is proposing an interior renovation of the building and minor renovation to the exterior of the building,” she said. “The improvement the applicant is proposing is very minor.”
Matthew Tedesco, the attorney representing the project, said the renovation is only the second of its kind in Prince George’s County and will be the first adaptive reuse of an office building, at least on the record, in Southern Prince George’s.
The new building will not only include the 187 apartment units, but will also have a party room, an internet café, a fitness room, a bicycle room and a dog wash.
Tedesco said the building is part of a revitalization era of the area and in the county. The building, built in 1989, has served its useful purpose, Tedesco said, but his client is excited to repurpose the building for residential use.
“We have the experience. We’re happy to be here. We look forward to this opportunity. We think it will be a wonderful addition to the area, given the opening of MGM and the amount of employment that has been created through that project,” he said.
And the Prince George’s Planning Board agreed, voting unanimously to move the project forward, but it was not without conditions for approval or without some concerns from the county health department.
Staff recommended a list of nine conditions for approval that included adding bike racks to the property and ensuring the renovation met ADA regulations. The planning staff memo also asked the planning board to require the developer add language guaranteeing the renovation noise levels would not be overbearing.
The language added reads, “During the demolition and construction phases, this project will conform to construction activity noise control requirements as specified in the Code of Maryland Regulations.”
That language was added to address one of many concerns from the Prince George’s County Health Department regarding the renovation. In their notes to planning staff, the health department pointed to county code regarding noise levels.
“During the demolition/construction phases of this project, noise should not be allowed to adversely impact activities on the adjacent properties. Indicate intent to conform to construction activity noise control requirements as specified in Subtitle 19 of the Prince George’s County Code,” the department’s comments read.
Other concerns related to health included the distance to the nearest fresh food and grocery stores, the amount of public transportation in the area and also requested the developer include a community garden in its plans.
The planning board noted the nearest grocer to the site is 0.4 miles away, but in regards to public transportation only, said the nearest shopping center is within walking distance. The developer is not proposing a community garden, but instead is proposing a dog park to “better accommodate the needs of residents.”
The final concern of the health department centered on the fact that the newly renovated residential building is little more than 250 feet from the I-495 Beltway.
“Published scientific reports have found that road traffic, considered a chronic environmental stressor, could impair cognitive development in children, such as reading comprehension, speech intelligibility, memory, motivation, attention, problem-solving, and performance on standardized tests,” health department comments read. “Increased exposure to fine particulate air pollution is associated with detrimental cardiovascular outcomes, including increased risk of death from ischemic heart disease, higher blood pressure, and coronary artery calcification and childhood asthma.”
Traffic noise from the major interstate could also have adverse health effects, the department said, and could lead to hearing impairment, sleep disturbance, cardiovascular effects, psycho-physiologic effects, psychiatric symptoms, and fetal development. The department requested specific details on how the applicant would address noise through modifications, adaptations and mitigation “to minimize the potential adverse health impacts of noise on the susceptible population.”
Planning staff said the developer believes the existing double-glazed windows in the building will “sufficiently mitigate traffic noise,” but also said any permits would require “a certificate signed by a professional in acoustics to verify that the interior noise level of each dwelling unit has been mitigated to be below 45” on the decibel scale for day/night average sound levels.
Tedesco said the developer is in agreement with the recommendations laid out by the planning board.
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