P.G. plans to redevelop Greenbelt

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Local,Maryland,Matt Connolly

Prince George's County's new plan to reinvent the area around the Greenbelt Metro station is ready for its close-up.

The plan, which incorporates housing, commercial development, green building, park space and multiple transit options, is scheduled for a public hearing Tuesday night.

One main feature of the proposal is a robust move to add mixed-use development, incorporating office, commercial and residential around the Metro station. The focus would be on renters rather than homeowners, said Chad Williams, the project's planner. He also noted that there was space for a large retailer or a federal agency to move in if the opportunity arises.

"We really want to create something special for Prince George's County," Williams said. "We believe there's a real opportunity for the Greenbelt Metro station to serve as a regional model for sustainable design."

That emphasis on sustainability looms large throughout the plan. The current proposal would turn the area north of Narragansett Run into an "eco-community" of buildings LEED certified Silver or better. Development would encourage pedestrian and bicycle traffic to cut down on pollution, and natural areas like Indian Creek would be restored and enhanced.

Another major change is the "Medical Mile," a system of trails, exercise stations and art displays that would link Doctors Community Hospital and other health care providers along Hanover Parkway with nearby parks.

"The council looked at this plan and said, 'How can we make it healthier?' " said Councilwoman Ingrid Turner, D-Greenbelt. "It connected with what Doctors Hospital was already trying to do."

The main challenge, according to Turner, is balancing the needs of current residents with those of incoming businesses. "We have to have a smooth transition from residential to commercial," she said. "Everyone might not be happy."

Williams said residents and current business owners will be included in the planning process from Tuesday's public hearing and beyond. "We're very sensitive to our neighbors," he said.

After the hearing, the plan will be sent to work sessions and meetings this winter. Depending on how much public input is required, it likely will be approved in spring 2013, Williams said.

mconnolly@washingtonexaminer.com

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