D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen joins us to discuss his "sneaker subsidy" for those who dont drive to work. And At-Large Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich will be in studio to talk about the fate of the Purple Line, the county budget, and his candidacy for County Executive.
Could New Carrollton be the next Silver Spring? Prince George’s County, Md., wants to create vibrant, mixed-use districts with condos, restaurants and retail near three of its busiest Metro stations. We look at the revitalization effort and what the creation of new suburban “downtowns” would mean for the county’s future.
- Sonja Ewing Planner and a Coordinator for Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission's Prince George's Plan 2035
- Mike Franklin Owner of Franklins Restaurant, Brewery & General Store in Hyattsville and Chair of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation
- Stephanie Stullich Member, College Park City Council
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFancy new condo buildings, bustling restaurants with sidewalk seating and the metro station right there. Silver Spring, Arlington, how about New Carrollton? Prince George's County is hoping to duplicate the redevelopment successes of its neighbors and build as many as three new downtown style districts in the suburbs, all located close to metro stations. For years, affluent residents of the county due east of D.C. have pined for a Nordstrom. Now the county is taking a deliberate approach to attract in the kind of lively mixed use development that can sustain high end retail and dining.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAs part of its new general plan update, the county hopes to select a few sites and then concentrate its resources on their revitalization. Optimists point to the thriving Hyattsville arts district as proof that if you build it they will come. But skeptics say it could be a long time before Prince George's Plaza looks like Bethesda. Well, here to help us figure this all out is Sonja Ewing. She is planner and a coordinator for Maryland's National Capital Park and Planning Commission's Prince George's Plan 2035. Sonja Ewing joins us in studio. Thank you for joining us.
MS. SONJA EWINGThank you for having me.
NNAMDIAlso in studio with us is Mike Franklin. He is owner of Franklin's Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville. He's also chair of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation. Mike Franklin, thank you for joining us.
MR. MIKE FRANKLINThank you for inviting me.
NNAMDIAnd Stephanie Stullich is a member of the College Park City Council. Stephanie Stullich, thank you for joining us.
MS. STEPHANIE STULLICHIt's a pleasure to be here.
NNAMDIWe take your questions and comments at 800-433-8850. Do you live in Prince George's County? Where do you think is the best place to create a new downtown? Call us, 800-433-8850. Sonja, county planners are zeroing in on three locations for potential new downtown style development. What are the three sites and what makes them stand out?
EWINGThank you for asking me that question. The first thing that we did was really look at all 27 of these places in the county that were places identified for growth in the 2002 plan. And we just realized 27's too many. And places of opportunity for us really came down to six. And the first group of three that we talked about at our June 15 meeting was high performers, scored high on our analysis that we created, Prince George's Plaza, College Park Metro and the New Carrollton Metro.
EWINGBut we also want to communicate to the community that there's some big projects out there and we should discuss those as well, those at Branch Avenue, the FBI potentially at Greenbelt and then the hospital maybe would come in at Largo.
NNAMDIIn the past, any discussion about revitalization in Prince George's County seemed to boil down to, when are we going to get a Nordstrom. What have you heard from residents about what types of development they want today and where they want it to be?
EWINGWell, in addition to that Nordstrom everybody wants great places to eat. But we really wanted to anchor this discussion on more than just retail, and really have folks understand that it's all about jobs and the housing that comes together. And people really get that because the commercial tax base in Prince George's Plaza is -- I mean, I'm sorry, Prince George's County is a real concern for us. And so getting those jobs that attracts the great employers, that attracts our millenials and boomers and really kind of anchors the type of development that we want really got people excited.
NNAMDIMike Franklin, your restaurant Franklin's Restaurant, Brewery and General Store is a unique business. First, tell us your story. How long have you been in Prince George's County and how did this business evolve so to speak?
FRANKLINWell, I got to the county over 25 years ago. I met and married a Prince George's County girl. We...
NNAMDIA Prince Georgian.
FRANKLINA Prince Georgian. So we wound up settling in Hyattsville in a beautiful old Victorian in a beautiful little town called Hyattsville. And a few years later I bought what was the Hyattsville Hardware Store. I was in the toy business. This is one of my old haunts, in fact. I used to sell toys to people like Treetop Toys and Sullivans in this neighborhood where your...
FRANKLINTenleytown. Anyway we opened as a little general store and deli in the back. And ten years later we begged and borrowed enough money to build a big expansion and gamble on a 200-seat restaurant brew pub. And the rest is history. We've done well and we've hopefully anchored the community. I should say that we've also expanded our store. So we are the only -- as far as I know the only combination toy store and brew pub in the world.
NNAMDIThat's what makes it unique. For our listeners who are not familiar with your location, describe the arts district in Hyattsville and how it differs from the areas right near the metro stations. What does the new development in your area look like? I've been over there quite a few times but a lot of our listeners have not.
FRANKLINWell, what has happened in the last few years is one of the old car dealership sites, the Lustein (sp?) dealership has turned into a mixed use development which includes a Busboys and Poets and a Taratie (sp?) and a bunch of housing, a bunch of apartments and city homes.
NNAMDIIt just seems to be the kind of place you want to hang out all the time in that little arts district. In case you're just joining us, we're talking about building new downtowns in Prince George's County with Mike Franklin. He is the owner of Franklin's Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville and chair of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation. Sonja Ewing is planner and coordinator for Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission's Prince George's Plan 2035. And Stephanie Stullich is a member of the College Park City Council.
NNAMDIIf you'd like to join the conversation, give us a call at 800-433-8850. What would it take to create a lively business and residential district near one of the metro stations in Prince George's County, or do you have in Hyattsville? What draws you there, 800-433-8850? Stephanie Stullich, College Park is apparently one of the three contenders for a concentrated effort at redevelopment. What pattern has recent development there followed and how would the community feel about revitalizing the area around the metro station?
STULLICHWell, I think the community is very eager to see revitalization and redevelopment around the metro station. We have seen quite a bit of redevelopment happen in College Park, mainly along Route 1. And it's mainly been student housing, which is something we needed. We had a real shortage of student housing and we've built several thousand new beds over the past five to ten years. That's great. At this point we need more development that is more multigenerational and more mixed use in terms of bringing the kinds of restaurants and somewhat higher end shopping opportunities.
STULLICHPeople in College Park do go out to eat and they do shop but a lot of times they feel like the need to go somewhere else to do that. And Hyattsville is one great place that we can go to do that. I know if you haven't been to Franklin's, you should give it a try. I've been going there for 20 years. Busboys and Poets is a great addition and we'd really like to see more of those kinds of things in College Park as well.
NNAMDIThe kind of urban style mixed use that, well, I guess the arts area represents?
STULLICHWhat you want is you want kind of a synergy between different kinds of businesses that have different attractions. You need some of the national companies, national businesses. And I think that's inevitable. But you also want to have locally owned businesses that have a unique character that aren't cookie cutter that you don't see everywhere else around the country.
NNAMDISonja, let's look at some of the factors the county is weighing as it thinks about creating new walkable urban style areas. How is the relatively high obesity rate among residents affecting decisions about laying out walkable new developments?
EWINGIt was really shocking to us to find out the number of folks that were either overweight or obese in our county, 70 percent of kids especially. And so as we worked on this plan we really wanted to think about those opportunities for people to walk. But it also was important understanding that people spend a lot of time in their cars commuting. We have some of the longest commute times in the area for our residents of Prince George's County.
EWINGAnd if we think about anchoring jobs in our community, it provides people with the opportunity to actually live and work near home and gives them an opportunity to really be at home. More time with their family, spend time studying and hopefully working on their physical health.
NNAMDIHere is Kim in Berkley Springs, W.V. Kim, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
KIMOh hi. I just wanted to say hello to Mike. I was coming to the store when it was just a deli and a toy store. I was there to enjoy the expansion and I was always treated as family. And I bought a lot of presents for people there. And I'm glad to hear you're doing well, Mike.
FRANKLINWell, thank you so much and thank you for your support.
NNAMDII'm very glad you called, Kim, because Mike, your customers largely -- Kim is in West Virginia, for crying out loud. They come largely by car. How are you creating, in spite of that, a walkable district in Hyattsville centered on driving rather than around the metro station?
FRANKLINWell, it is very tricky because the metro is a mile away or so. And not many people are going to traipse that far. And the public transit options are limited. So we're very grateful to have a lot of people coming, walking from our neighborhood, but you can't forget about the car. And in fact, in Hyattsville one of the problems with success, if you will, is that we now have a parking issue. Which the city of Hyattsville is working to correct by acquiring some property and eventually perhaps with the help of the county building a parking garage.
NNAMDIThe need for parking. Kim, thank you very much for your call. Here is Brian in Columbia, Md. Brian, your turn.
BRIANHey, how's it going, Kojo?
NNAMDIIt's going well, Brian.
BRIANGood, good, good. Yeah, I'm a resident in Hyattsville now. I went to College Park. I've lived in College park for the past five years. I now live right behind the plaza metro off of Queens Chapel. And I was looking for a new apartment recently, decided to stay put where I'm at. But the thing that I ran into was really just an affordability issue. I looked at those new places over by (sounds like) Parrot's Eye and Spice Six and they're great. But, I mean, you know, paying $1200 a month starting for an efficiency is, you know, it's a little bit high. I mean, you look at College Park and some of the student housing and, you know, those rates are just ridiculous.
BRIANAnd I was just wondering what's going to be done to really promote affordable housing? I know in D.C. it's a major issue and it's kind of like a joke, you know, affordable housing when you have things that are, you know, $1200 a month starting out just for an efficiency. So I was wondering kind of if there was going to be a focus on really making actual affordable housing instead of making 6 percent of your units, you know, affordable when you have the rest are, you know, 2,000 and up.
NNAMDIWell, let me have Sonja Ewing and Stephanie Stullich both address that issue because on the one hand you want to have the kind of amenities that attract people to live there. On the other hand, you don't want to drive out people who can't afford to live there. How do you strike that balance?
EWINGThat's an important issue for us as we draft the plan. And we really want to continue to work with our housing authority and the baker administration and really infuse in this plan affordability options for our existing residents to stay in the neighborhoods, but also make our neighborhoods continue to be attractive places as they grow and develop. So we have to have strong housing policy that encourages mixed use development and multi-unit development that is affordable.
EWINGAnd I think we're looking to our neighbors in Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County for great examples. And we would like to infuse that and that's going to be an important component as our plan as we move forward.
NNAMDIStephanie Stullich, what are some of the concerns that residents have about development and how it could affect the character of their neighborhoods? How it could affect traffic?
STULLICHWell, people do worry about traffic but that doesn't mean that they're opposed to development. I think what's great about the Plan 2035 is that it's really focused on developing around metro stations, true transit-oriented development. Sometimes developers come in and they want to use that buzz word, this is transit-oriented development even though it's more than half a mile away from a metro station.
STULLICHThis plan is doing exactly the right kind of thing, which is saying, let's focus our energy and resources and partnership between public government and private developers. And let's build more intensive urban style development where the metro is so that people can get there without getting in their cars. They can get from their new condo to their job without getting in their cars. That's the way we want to go.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. What concerns do you have about redevelopment in Prince George's County, 800-433-8850? You can also send us a Tweet at kojoshow. The most contentious current development in the county seems to be the Cafritz plan to build townhouses, retail and the county's first Whole Foods in University Park. I know we have discussed it on this broadcast at least three times, maybe more. Is that battle a preview of what could happen with other big development plans? This is for all of you but I'll start with you, Stephanie.
STULLICHI think it's totally different. The people who were opposed to the Cafritz development -- and I certainly was one of them -- would've loved to see that exact development happen in a different location. That development by the College Park metro station or some other metro station in the county would've been exactly right.
STULLICHThe people who are worried about Cafritz were worried about high density project, not just Whole Foods, but everything else that was part of that project in a small area that's fairly landlocked that you can't get in and out easily. And, you know, Route 1 does have a lot of traffic. But if you put the development by the metro station then you're not just talking Route 1. You're talking Paint Branch Parkway, plus you're talking all the people who can get there on the Green line. And when the Purple line gets built, they can get there on the Purple line as well.
NNAMDIWhat do you say, Mike Franklin? You're in a neighborhood in which there's no metro immediately close by.
FRANKLINWell, when you're talking about Prince George's Plaza, which is part of this discussion, and College Park both, I think Stephanie's right. There's a pretty unanimous view that these areas need to get developed. And in the city of Hyattsville I know there are several very large housing developments already in the pipeline at Prince George's Plaza. And they don't appear to be very controversial. I don't hear people talking about them and agonizing about them and hating their neighbor about them. The Cafritz property was unique in that regard, at least I hope.
EWINGI do agree that the Cafritz I think was a really unique opportunity for the county. And I think as we continue to mature in our development experience, we'll have an opportunity to kind of really look at our suitors as they come to the door and really kind of say, is this the right person for us? And maybe wait for Mr. Right and sometimes say no to the guy who just wants to take us out to dinner.
NNAMDIHere now is Pamela in Greenbelt, Md. Pamela, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
PAMELAHi, Kojo and panelists. I'm calling because, you know, I feel like this investment that the county's trying to make, you know, in different areas of the county is fantastic. But I'd love to encourage the county to really look at Greenbelt, especially the part of the area that's adjacent to the metro off of 193. I think it would be a great opportunity to develop. You know, there's already been a lot of funds invested in College Park and development in Hyattsville. But it'd be nice to see funds invested in areas that have not been developed.
NNAMDIIs Greenbelt one of the areas you're looking at, Sonja? I thought it was.
EWINGYes, definitely Greenbelt, especially if the FBI and the proposal that's there comes to fruition will be a real opportunity for us to focus investment. And I think that's something that's important for us to just really say. The plan is recommending that we look at two to three places for real coordinated focus, work program and financial investment from the public. But we don't want to stop development in any of our key growth areas in the county. And we want to really continue to encourage the private market to work in all of our other communities at the same time.
NNAMDIHere now is -- and Pamela, thank you for your call. Here is Stephanie in Hyattsville, Md. Stephanie, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
STEPHANIEHi. I've been a resident of PG County for the last 25 years or something like that, and early patron of Franklin, so hi, Mike. But the -- one of the key things about the arts district corridors from Mount Rainier to Hyattsville is affordable housing, and that came up earlier. But that seems to be one of the lynchpins of making an arts district work. Can you talk about how the -- how that's the part of the planning there, and how you're realizing that?
NNAMDIStarving artists don't want to pay high rents, but Mike, go ahead, please.
FRANKLINI don't really know even how to take a crack at that. The neighborhoods behind Route 1 are still extremely affordable.
FRANKLINThe trick is any time you want to build high-quality, mixed-use development, those particular developments are going to have higher priced apartments or city homes or what have you. Just the economics of it dictate that. So the balance is within the neighborhood, and some of the older properties rather than the newly built things.
NNAMDISonja, what -- who's the target audience for these new downtown-style developments? Who do you think will move into new condos near a metro station?
EWINGResearch is really telling us that the millennials as a generation group, and the boomers, are really looking for a different type of housing that's more multi-family housing, smaller, but still very high amenities, and they want to live in walkable, urban places, and that employers are following them to these places. And so that's our key target market, but we definitely want to balance that with making sure that our existing neighborhoods remain attractive and are strong places for people to stay residents of Prince George's County.
STEPHANIEAnd if I could add that...
STULLICH...the faculty and staff of the University of Maryland are a great target audience to buy homes in these new areas. Four percent of University of Maryland faculty and staff live in college park. Some of them live in some of our neighboring towns like Hyattsville, but many of them live in Montgomery County, Howard County, and D.C. And we need to attract those people to live in College Park and near College Park. Living near your work is -- makes a lot of sense.
NNAMDIStephanie, thank you very much for your call. We're going to have to take a short break, but if you'd like to join the conversation, call us at 800-433-8850. What in your view makes Prince George's County a good place for Silver Spring style redevelopment? 800-433-8850, or if you have concerns about redevelopment in Prince George's County, give us a call or send us an email to email@example.com. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking about building new downtowns in Prince George's County with Stephanie Stullich. She's a member of the College Park City Council. Mike Franklin is owner of Franklin's Restaurant, Brewery, and General Store in Hyattsville. He's also Chair of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation. And Sonja Ewing is planner and coordinator for Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission's Prince George's Plan 2035.
NNAMDIYou can call us at 800-433-8850. Mike, as a local independent businessman, what's your perspective on Prince George's County as a place to do business? What kinds of physical space and demographics are businesses looking for when they decide where to open?
FRANKLINWell, I'm a homeboy. I love Prince George's County, I have to say. And I'm very bullish on the future of opening businesses in the county. One of the drawbacks we have is the geography of some of the areas where we don't have easy places for independent restaurants to move in and make a strip as you will, as you've seen in the District. But when good restaurants open they will be successful in our county because there is a definite demand for them.
NNAMDIYou're Chair of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation. What are you doing to make Hyattsville appealing for developers?
FRANKLINWe're -- information is one thing, I would say. We have been at the forefront of providing information to developers that says we have the market for various types of businesses to locate here. We also were part of the original planning that was helpful to bringing the big development that we have now through the Community Legacy Program. That was a planning tool that we helped the city to produce 10 years ago that we have been able to hand out to developers ever since that explains what the city is about, what type of development we want, and what the size of the market is.
NNAMDIYou seem to be getting an amen for that from Ron in Hyattsville, Md. Ron, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
RONHi. I'm -- I've been living in Hyattsville for the last 35 years or so, and I really enjoy living in Hyattsville. I'm not downtown Hyattsville, I'm actually in west Hyattsville, in the (word?) area. But my wife and I have been very pleased with being able to go to Franklins and to Busboys and Poets, and also the College Park area, and we're spending more time there because we're getting the services that we want.
NNAMDIStephanie, how do you see a potential downtown-style development unfolding in College Park? Ron now says he and wife spend more time in College Park than they used to. Where would it go, what would it look like?
STULLICHWell, I think we are starting to see that happening in College Park. I know we have more -- better variety of restaurants now than we did 10 or 15 years ago. We now have a little Vietnamese restaurant, and a little Thai restaurant, you know, really, really cute, affordable, locally owned, independent businesses. I think the big opportunity in College Park really is around the metro station and that area that's between the metro station and Route 1 and the University of Maryland.
STEPHANIEThe university is the flagship campus of the whole Maryland university system, and it brings a lot of assets in terms of entertainment, athletics, culture, academics, and business collaborations. And so we can use that engine, I think, to help harness the kinds of development that with transform the community, and President Loh of the University of Maryland really has been a driving force in this since he arrived on the scene.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Ron. Sonja, talk about the development success stories in recent years, National Harbor being one. Where else has the county seen development like that continue to thrive?
EWINGI think that's been our challenge, that other than our Gateway Arts District and really the strength of what we've seen at National Harbor, our other successes have been more scattered. I think we can learn a lot from what happened with the Gateway Arts District and National Harbor, and I think I'll add on what we're starting to see at Woodmore Town Center with the Wegmans that's anchored there, is that it takes that overall commitment and the long-term commitment to see a place transform and change over time.
EWINGThat Gateway Arts is where it started in 2000, and National Harbor was an idea back in the eighties and it really took that long haul of public commitment and community vision coming together to really see a transformation in these places.
NNAMDIBack to the telephones. Chris in University Park. Chris, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CHRISOh, thank you so much for taking my call. I had several comments. We've lived in Bladensburg and College Park and Hyattsville for the last 16 years, so of that area, and I've -- I bike everywhere. This area has great bike facilities, and I'm so excited that some of the new restaurants have come in, like the Thai restaurant, Aroys, and (word?) are great. And the new bakery that's in Hyattsville Mount Rainier called Shortcakes Bakery is fantastic, and it's bikeable, easy for the neighborhoods.
CHRISThe one thing that that I would really love is a moon bounce place or a party place because for us to get to one we have to go to like Silver Springs or New Carrollton. But there's so many places around here that are -- would be a perfect like...
FRANKLINOpen one. Why don't you open one?
NNAMDIThat's what Mike would do.
FRANKLINIt takes people with dreams to do these things.
CHRISSo that's what I want to say. I love where I live, and we go to Franklins. It's great.
FRANKLINWell, thank you.
NNAMDIStephanie Stullich, there's room for that kind of thing.
FRANKLINYou'll be happy to know, I just wanted to add that there is going to be a bike path that will be coming behind our property through -- connecting all the way eventually to the College Park metro, yes?
STULLICHSure. We've being building segments of that bicycle path for the past couple of decades, and it's getting bigger and better, and when it extends all the way from College Park to Hyattsville, it'll be really a great way to get between these communities and to our local businesses.
FRANKLINAnd as of a month ago, the park and planning people were eating lunch and saying that they hope to start within a month or two, so I'm very excited to see that happen.
NNAMDIChris, thank you very much for your call. Sonja, Maryland governor, Martin O'Malley, and Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker Just this morning announced $650 million in transportation improvements in Prince George's County. How do you think that investment will help prompt more redevelopment?
EWINGWell, we're really excited about that investment. We think it's a great opportunity for us to really look at transportation as a whole, and not just roads, but just also looking at improving our bikeways, connecting into our great trails network that the Parking Planning Commission has provided, and really looking at opportunities to really get a great sidewalk network to get people moving through these new walkable communities that we hope to create.
EWINGAnd we also think it would be a real anchor for new job creation, and for us this whole idea of downtowns, and not just in our northern part of the county in these great communities like Hyattsville and College Park, but just really looking at central Prince George's and some opportunities in the more southern part of the county to look at how we can anchor our great neighborhoods with new front doors and new job generators to put Prince George's in a place where we can be competitive with our neighbors.
STULLICHAnd putting that in existing downtowns, building onto exists downtowns is, I think the way to go. It's easy to take some big piece of green space and turn that into a standalone town center, quote unquote, but I don't think that's really what people want. I think they want to take their existing downtowns and make them better.
NNAMDIHere's Flan (sp?) in Hyattsville. Flan, your turn.
FLANThanks. I live in Hyattsville, and the PG plaza metro station, most of the land immediately adjacent to that is already built up, so I'm wondering how far away from metro this developmental definition reaches and where they would be looking to do additional development around PG plaza, and in the case of College Park, would they be looking to develop into the existing residential neighborhood west of the tracks, or are they concentrating on east of the tracks?
NNAMDIWell, first for you Stephanie Stullich. College Park.
STULLICHSure. I think the plan is to develop west -- east of the tracks and not into the existing neighborhood. There's a lot of very underutilized space on the east side of the metro tracks. That's where the focus is and should be, and I think it should also extend up Paint Branch Parkway to the entrance to the University Of Maryland, the area that's been talked about for some years as east campus, and a really great opportunity, a great location for this kind of redevelopment, connecting the College Park metro station and the campus.
NNAMDIAnd for you, Sonja. You in Prince George's Plaza?
EWINGYeah. I think as we really consider creating downtowns, or real walkable urban places, it's about transforming, and I think that mall is a great anchor for the community. It has a lot of opportunities, but the parking lots that surround it, and the development pattern that we just see in that community that's more suburban in nature has a great opportunity to look at infield development, some shared parking, parking structures, new sidewalks, new roadways coming in, and I think Prince George's Plaza is really a story of transformation that we've seen be really successful in a lot of other communities nationwide.
NNAMDIGo ahead please, Mike.
FRANKLINHi, Flan, first of all. There's -- on the City of Hyattsville website, you can actually see where some of these things are going to be. The Belcrest Plaza and (word?) , those are big developments that are happening behind Prince George's Plaza. There's hopefully going to be a Safeway that is going to anchor University Town Center and the Kiplinger site, which is next to the Home Depot. So there's some very specific places where things are proposed and you can see all of that that's being planned.
NNAMDIThank you very much for you call, Flan. We got this email from Glenn. "I'm a target for your guests. I'm house hunting now and love Prince George's County, but I also have a two year old and am very worried about the quality of Prince George's County public schools, especially in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier. Since I won't move to a place because of a retail store, but will move for schools, what options would your guests suggest for someone like me?" First you -- oh, first you, Mike.
FRANKLINI would say Hyattsville. It's not the only place I would say, but I would say that the thing that I'm most gratified about in the last ten years is how the elementary school has turned around. When my kids were little, we didn't all send our kids to the local school, and in the two blocks within our moms group, there were eight parents sending their kids to seven different schools. But the -- now, a lot of the parents are sending their kids to Hyattsville Elementary.
FRANKLINAnd what I would also say is go to some of the PTA meetings at some of the places you might to send your kids and see.
EWINGYes. I think that Hyattsville Elementary story is a story that we can tell in a number of places around the county, especially in our municipalities where communities have really come together to support our schools, and I think our elementary schools in particular are becoming more strong. And we know that the Baker administration is working very hard with the new school CEO to really create an environment where we can say we're going to have quality communities anchored by quality education.
STULLICHI think perception is also an issue. We do have really good schools in Prince George's County and Hyattsville.
NNAMDIBut you do have your challenges too, yes?
STULLICHYes. We have University Park Elementary School that serves some of the neighborhoods of South College Park and it's extremely popular with the families whose children go there.
NNAMDISo several suggestions for you there. We're running out of time, Sonja, but talk about the timing for the county plan. When will the three downtowns be chosen ad approved, and what's the goal for starting construction?
EWINGSo we're moving forward and drafting a plan right now, and it would available to the public in September. And we would like everyone to really review it, get into it. We'll put out our two places that we think should be considered for downtown Prince George's County and also some economic generators, and then we're going to have a public meeting in November, and it's very important that people really give us comment, come out to the meeting and give us testimony and we'll go through with our planning board and then our county council to approval in next spring of 2014.
NNAMDISo we're saying that by spring of 2014 we should know exactly what's planned, and what's on the drawing board.
EWINGYes. And then like we said before, we really understand that looking at the really transformation that took place in downtown Silver Spring that this is a 20-year proposition, and once we get everybody on the same page with a vision and commitment with resources, we would like to see development continue to happen in these places, and I think all of these places have great opportunities.
NNAMDISonja Ewing. She is planner and coordinator for Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission's Prince George's Plan 2035. Mike Franklin is owner of Franklin's Restaurant, Brewery, and General Store in Hyattsville and Chair of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation. And Stephanie Stullich is a member of the College Park City Council. I'd like to thank you all for joining me and to thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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Inside an 800-square-foot shop, D.C.-based social entrepreneur Ahmad Ashkar is using his Mom's falafel recipe to raise money for refugees.