loading...

Hyattsville: Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

by Amanda Abrams

image

Characterizing Hyattsville depends on where you stand on the glass-half-full versus glass-half-empty spectrum. A pessimist might look at the Prince George’s County town near the District’s northern border and see a community scarred by foreclosures, one where home values have taken a dive and independent businesses struggle to survive.

But someone with a rosier outlook would likely focus on the positives: the area’s wide range of attractive, affordable homes; its proximity to downtown DC; and its burgeoning Route 1 corridor, which is about to bloom with new restaurants and retail.

In truth, the town—a relatively large community that includes a few disparate neighborhoods—is all of the above. An area that was hit very hard by the economic crisis, it nonetheless retains substantial potential for the DC region’s still-expanding housing market.

Not Just a Neighborhood

Hyattsville is an actual municipality that encompasses several zip codes and has its own city council. The area is irregularly shaped; the bulk of the town lies south of East-West Highway and west of Route 1, straddling Queens Chapel Road, but a narrow panhandle runs north along Adelphi Road to University Boulevard.

Commercial areas include the strip of businesses near the West Hyattsville Metro station, in the town’s southwest corner; a busy cluster of stores at the intersection of East-West Highway and Belcrest Road, where the Prince George’s Plaza Metro station is located; and a long commercial zone along Route 1, near the town’s eastern border.

Housing of All Sizes For All Types (Even Artists)

In between the commercial areas are vast, quiet residential areas fringed with tall hardwoods. Hyattsville’s historic district lies to the southeast and the homes there—1920s and ‘30s-era Victorians, bungalows, and quirky Italianate-style houses—are relatively large and well-preserved. But the majority of the town’s detached homes are modest, boxy postwar structures on decent-sized plots of land; a few have obviously been well-maintained or even renovated, but most are unpretentious and many seem to be in pretty basic condition.

There are also a number of large apartment and condo buildings near the main roads and commercial areas. Most of these are older structures, but a few newer complexes are located near Prince George’s Plaza.

Then there’s the Arts District development along Route 1, which belongs in a category by itself. An ambitious project launched by developer EYA in 2006, the area currently includes 132 townhouses with a variety of funky facades that are finished and fully occupied, as well as a community center. Yet to come are another 183 townhouses currently under construction, and roughly 300 units in multi-family buildings that will be either condos or apartments.

image
EYA Townhomes

The development has gotten a lot of press in the past few years, not only because it adds new homes to an area that hasn’t seen much development in the past decade, but also because it provides live-work spaces for artists and aims to revitalize the Route 1 corridor—though for now, the majority of the storefronts bear “Coming Soon” signs. Also sited near that strip but unrelated to the EYA project is Renaissance Square, a 44-unit building targeted specifically to artists.

All Across the Board

Given the mixture of the housing stock, it’s not surprising that Hyattsville’s residents are pretty diverse. There are federal employees, residents who’ve lived in their homes for decades, newcomers lured by lower housing prices, and immigrants looking to establish a foothold in the area.

“There’s black, white, Hispanic, islanders, Africans, everyone,” said Albert Thomas, 58, who’s lived in the town for fifteen years and was shoveling snow on his walk recently. “People get along okay, but everybody seems to mind their own business.”

Elizabeth Arnold has lived in the area since 1992 and agreed with Thomas about the mix of residents.

“Take my block, for example,” Arnold said. “My next door neighbor has been here since she was a child, and is now in her 80s and two families across the street have been here as long as I have. But my other neighbors just moved away and there’ll be a new family coming in. It’s not like a small town in the Midwest where everybody knows everybody, but I think people feel like they belong.”

image
Home currently for sale in Hyattsville

Average Prices Are A Little Misleading

Hyattsville was one of the communities hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis in Prince George’s County.

“There are still a lot of foreclosures,” Andy Werner, a real estate broker affiliated with RE/MAX who works in the area said, nothing that the foreclosed homes are selling at low prices, and the glut of distressed properties for sale has pushed housing prices down.

For example, according to Werner, the average sales price for a two-bedroom detached home is just under $100,000, but that number is skewed because it includes bank-owned properties; the average sales price for a four-bedroom home is $181,000. Those average figures make it difficult to get a sense for the home prices in the town. For example, some four-bedroom Hyattsville homes are selling for just above $100,000, while others are going for over $300,000. Condos are similar. A one-bedroom unit in a big 1960s-era building could cost as little as $50,000, or as much as $215,000. Two-bedrooms run from $70,000 all the way to $300,000.

In the Arts District, though, prices are pretty consistent. EYA is selling its three bedroom townhomes for between $360,000 and $390,000, and four-bedroom homes range from $450,000 to $500,000.

Three Commercial Districts

Each of Hyattsville’s three main commercial districts has a different flavor. The area near the West Hyattsville Metro station features a strip of small restaurants and stores, many catering to the region’s Latino population. Prince George’s Plaza, in contrast, feels like a sprawling suburban shopping center and has a number of chain stores, including Macy’s and Target. Finally, Route 1 is home to the area’s few funky, independently owned businesses like the yarn shop A Tangled Skein, and Franklin’s, a two-story brewery and family restaurant. According to Elizabeth Arnold, the three areas (combined) finally have enough restaurants to satisfy Hyattsville residents.

image

“We frequently go to Rhode Island Reds; it’s got the best pizza in town,” Arnold said of the Route 1 restaurant that offers live music on Thursday nights and movies on Fridays.

Other restaurants of note include Shagga Coffee & Restaurant, an Ethiopian restaurant along Route 1; Kitchen Near You, an African restaurant near the West Hyattsville Metro; and Hanks Tavern and Eats, a somewhat upscale American restaurant under the same management as DC’s Chef Geoff’s.

More household-name establishments are planning to open in the coming months. This spring, the EYA development will welcome several new businesses including Busboys and Poets, Tara Thai, Elevation Burger, Chipotle, and Yes! Organic Market.

Crime Headlines

If you have read the local section of the newspaper in 2011, you know that there has been a bit of a crime wave hitting Prince George’s County. However, most of the incidents have happened outside the Hyattsville borders and the town is, by and large, considered safe by its residents.

Albert Thomas told UrbanTurf that he feels the town is very safe, noting that he hasn’t seen any crime since he moved to the area in 1995. Elizabeth Arnold, however, hedged a little bit more. “I feel safe, but that’s partly because I’m usually with my dog when I walk around,” she said, adding that some of her neighbors have had their cars broken into or have been mugged.

Hyattsville is certainly not crime free. A map depicting crimes in the town over the past month show a rash of car thefts, assaults, and burglaries. But according to a report released by the Hyattsville police department at the end of last year, crime decreased by five percent between 2009 and 2010 due to new law enforcement tactics and the use of new technologies.

The Purple Line

The big transportation news in Hyattsville is that, if it comes to fruition, the proposed Purple Line light rail that will connect Bethesda and New Carrolton would run right through the town. A number of hurdles still need to be overcome before the plan moves forward and completion would be years away, but the 16-mile line would certainly make the area more attractive.

As far as transportation options currently, Hyattsville is relatively convenient. For those with cars, the town is located on or near a number of major outlets going into DC, like Route 1, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and Route 50, and with two Metro stations, the area’s also accessible to public transportation patrons. However, because the town is relatively large, not all residents are within walking distance of the Metro.

The Bottom Line

With the foreclosure situation and empty storefronts along Route 1, it is relatively easy to not speak very highly of Hyattsville right now. But with the current affordability of homes, the budding development and the retail that is coming to the area, it is also not hard to see this area shaking off its current troubles in the next few years and blossoming.

Amanda Abrams is a Washington, DC-based journalist who has written feature stories for The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Washington City Paper.

More Info on Hyattsville

  • Zip codes: 20781, 20782, 20786, 20788
  • City of Hyattsville
  • Schools: Hyattsville Elementary School, Rosa Parks Elementary, or University Park Elementary; Hyattsville Middle School or Nicolas Orem Middle School; Northwestern High School
  • Hyattsville real estate data and profile from Redfin
  • Hyattsville rental listings from Craigslist

See other articles related to: hyattsville, hoods

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/hyattsville_glass_half_full_or_half_empty/2833

7 Comments

  1. HyTown said at 10:14 am on Thursday January 13, 2011:

    I have lived in Hyattsville for about 18 months and love the area. The article accurately portrays the two perspectives on the future of the town, but the feeling among those on my block is that things are on the up and up!

  1. jag said at 1:14 pm on Thursday January 13, 2011:

    I think Hyattsville is one of the stops that has the most to gain from a Purple Line. The connection between Bethesda and Silver Spring is convenient for MoCo residents; the connection between MoCo and PG is a lifeline for PG.

  1. a said at 11:14 am on Friday January 14, 2011:

    It’s also worth pointing at that the part of Hyattsville most appealing to new, upper-middle class buyers is the eastern part, which is close to the new EYA Development (where Busboys and Poets, Yes! Organic, etc is coming in), and the old walkable part of DT Hyattsville.  This is the part with the oldest, gorgeous historic bungalows, not the newer post 1960s housing stock and strip malls.

  1. gld said at 3:02 am on Wednesday January 19, 2011:

    I came across this site while researching neighborhoods in the area.  We are about to transfer (military).  Never been to DC.  This area especially the Arts District sounds interesting.  My husband and I are originally from SF, CA area and are excited about living in a hip urban area again.  Can anyone tell me more about Hyattsville or any area that’s great urban living?  Thanks.

  1. Tyrese said at 10:19 am on Thursday January 20, 2011:

    I have lived in Hyattsville since 2006 and just purchased another house in another part of Hyattsville in September.  I agree with the article that Hyattsville does suffer from a duality or multiple personality-ism that many other areas in the metro area do not neccesarily deal with.  However, for the exception of maybe Silver Spring, you will not find another part of the metro area this large and diverse.  Although Hyattsville is one municipality, it is very very different depending on where exactly in Hyattsville you live.  I have gone so far as to describe it as a block by block difference to my friends.  We moved from the “pan handle” area that the writer discusses near New Hampshire/University Blvd/Adelphi and Riggs Rd to the area right off of Queensbury Rd./E/W Hwy/Baltimore Ave. (the Route 1 corridor) and the difference is night and day (although the drive to and from is merely 5 minutes).  Now I feel like I live in a quiet, relaxed, reasonably middle class, family oriented, convenient, lovely tree-lined neighborhood.  Whereas before…let’s just say it was not as pleasant.  Hyattsville has much to offer, but remember to take it street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, because what you will find in one part of the town is totally different than what you will find in another.

  1. jag said at 3:35 am on Friday January 21, 2011:

    Hi gld,
    Honestly, I don’t think Hyattsville would accurately be described as hip or urban (don’t mean to offend any residents - I visit Hyattsville and enjoy it). It’s not very dense, for the most part, and the arts district is largely unfinished at this point. I’d recommend looking at U St., Columbia Heights, or Adams Morgan areas of DC if you’re looking for something hip and urban or Downtown Silver Spring (just across the border in Maryland) if you’re looking for a balance between urban and relaxed (or simply can’t afford $2K+ rents for a 1br within the city).

    UrbanTurf’s article on Downtown Silver Spring:
    http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/downtown_silver_spring_experiencing_a_resurgence_after_a_bumpy_history/2281

  1. Justin said at 11:45 am on Saturday August 11, 2012:

    This is a very balanced article about Hyattsville, which is hard to find.  I think what’s most encouraging is that although this article wasn’t written that long ago, the Arts district appears to have developed a lot since this was posted.

    I definitely think the area is one of the best kept secrets of metropolitan DC.  I just hope it stays like that long enough before I’m priced out.

Join the discussion

UrbanTurf now requires registration in order to post comments. Register here, or login below if you are already registered.

Click here if you forgot your password.



DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Ballston
Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Clarendon
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Rosslyn
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
Shirlington
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
Huntington
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
Parkfairfax
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »

Maryland

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Annapolis
Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bethesda
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
Potomac
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
Wheaton
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Hyattsville
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Bloomingdale
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
Brightwood
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
Burleith
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
Crestwood
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
Georgetown
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
Kalorama
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
Palisades
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Petworth
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
Shaw
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Takoma
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Tenleytown
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

Brookland
New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
Deanwood
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Eckington
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
Langdon
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
NoMa
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Rosedale
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
Trinidad
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Woodridge
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Hillcrest
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾