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HYATTSVILLE – While the outside of the Mall at Prince George’s is already undergoing changes, just down the street Metro II at the University Town Center (UTC) will soon see its interior altered as well.

On June 5, the Hyattsville City Council received updates on projects within the city both under way and expected to take place in the coming months. Specifically, plans were laid out for the renovations and updates to the Mall at Prince George’s and the proposed interior renovations to the office building known as Metro II.

Mark Gambill, the vice president of development at Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, and the company’s attorney André Gingles, gave a presentation to the council outlining the $25 million renovation to the Mall at Prince George’s and what it will do to update the site.

“We’re giving a fresh new look and it will look beautiful when it’s completed,” Gambill said. “We’re keeping the mall running obviously. It’s like rebuilding the engine with the car running.”

The project will not only update the front façade, but will include the addition of a number of restaurants, shops and a new pad site on the south-west corner of the property.

Gambill said the biggest modifications are to the front of the mall where the shops are currently being transformed into front-facing eateries known as “quick server restaurants.” Those include a Chipotle Mexican Grill, Mezzo (a Mediterranean-style restaurant), Wok to Walk and a Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

“We have another one that we’re not ready to announce at this point, but we are pretty far into negations,” Gambill said. “So we’ll have five new quick serve restaurants that will be on the front of the mall and face the parking lot.”

Other changes include the moving of the Old Navy closer to Target. That retailer’s old spot in the mall will now be filled with an Ulta Beauty and a DSW. In addition, a Five Below will be built next to the current T.J. Maxx.

The company is still in negotiations for the pad site, which is detached from the mall building much like the current Olive Garden and Outback Steakhouse. However, Gambill said the eatery will be a national chain that is a family style, sit-down restaurant

The mall will also undergo some interior changes as the company updates the fixtures, furniture and equipment as they modernize the interior look of the mall and install “softer furniture.”

Councilmembers raised some concerns with the changes to the mall, particularly the elimination of some parking spaces as the mall tries to attract more people to it.

Gingles said the mall wants to encourage walk-ability in the area, but Councilman Robert Croslin said he does not walk to the mall and pointed out that parking is already “painful.” Still, Gingles said the plans meet the requirements for parking for retail.

Councilman Kevin Ward also said he has concerns that the rear of the mall will not undergo renovations. Councilwoman Erica Spell echoed those concerns when asking about safety updates, especially lighting.

Gambill said the overall plan to renovate the mall from front to back and Gingles said he would keep the city and council updated as progress continues on the mall. He plans to make more presentations to the council as they apply for site plans at the county planning board.

In the nearby University Town Center, the Metro II building is gearing up for some major renovations as the owner, Bernstein Companies, plans to modify the office building into 310 apartment rentals.

“This is pretty unique,” said Hyattsville Assistant City Administrator Jim Chandler. “It’s not often we have adaptive reuse of buildings, which are fairly recent buildings. Generally it’s in good condition. This is a market issue, not necessarily a building issue.”

The project renovation would include more than 300 apartments with 95 structred parking spaces and 15 on-street spaces as well. The interior would include the addition of a leasing office, gym, work offices and “amenity space.” Some modifications to the exterior of the building are expected and one of the entrances will be eliminated. Vehicular access will also be altered and signage and lighting improvements made.

Bernstein Companies gave a presentation to the council on April 17 detailing the plans for the building and the detail site plan came before the council again on June 5 so the members could provide input for the letter to the county planning board.

The council approved several conditions to send to the planning board for consideration before awarding approval of the detailed site plan. Those conditions include adding lighting and signage that denotes the primary entrance on America Boulevard, modifying the building street address to America Boulevard (rather than East-West Highway), adding way-finding parking signage since parking is limited in the area and that all at-grade parking and surface parking be metered and administered by the city.

“The conditions are really to set some of the exterior and operational parameters we like to see reflected in conditions. The applicant is aware of these conditions,” Chandler said.

Chandler said the address of the building is probably the largest request, but said it is important to address it now before it becomes an issue for the building and its residents since it does not actually rest on East-West Highway.

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