Updated: Feb 20
Diversity is a crucial element in the continued success of Prince George’s County. The topic of diversity is a taboo subject for many, as it makes people uncomfortable. For some, diversity equates to gentrification. I equate diversity as conduit to provide the upscale entities and higher quality of services to residences of Prince George’s County. Diversity is important on all levels such as color, income, and education.
Many of our shopping venues have a repetition of the same tenants such as, liquor stores, carry-outs, barber and hair salons. Personally, I feel this will be the demise of Prince George’s County, if we don’t diversify our tenant line-up. I honestly wish the county would put a moratorium on the above mentioned entities! I would recommend we not only continue to voice our concerns to our county leaders, but also continue to support our local businesses. To help us reach higher levels of diversity, Prince George’s County needs to continue to be pro-active in attracting the game changers not only in healthier eating options, but also wooing the local businesses to the county. Game changers include Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, Wegmans, Panera Bread, Noodles and Company, &pizza, District Taco, Busboys and Poets. These businesses are game changers because they help change and shape the retail and restaurant landscape and typically have a higher quality of tenants follow pursuit. Ultimately, a diversified portfolio of businesses attracts a diversified clientele.
We (Prince George’s County) need not only successful development projects, but to also create destinations. Destinations create a well-renowned experience. National Harbor is a destination! It is the most successful destination development in Prince George’s County and perhaps the Washington DC area! Our county planners and leaders need to look at other destination places, such downtown Silver Spring, The Wharf in Washington, DC or Mosaic District in Fairfax County. We need to work with those county officials, planners, and developers to create more destinations such as Carillon, the redevelopment of The Boulevard in Largo, Maryland. Destinations afford the opportunity for diversity on all levels of shopping, dining, and entertainment.
I recently went to my first late night Happy Hour at Granite City restaurant located at National Harbor. I figured it would be same vibes during the afternoon happy hour. I was completely wrong! As soon as I stepped at the bar, it was just negative energy. I asked a female,”Are these two seats available?” She initially acted like she didn’t want to respond. Then she replied “No” and rolled her eyes. After that, my friend and I decided to go elsewhere to grab something to eat. We ended up at Yard House late night happy hour in DC, near Chinatown. Let’s just say it was a whole different experience! At the front door, a married couple held the door so we could walk in. We did the same for the next set of doors. The husband offered to buy a beer. We conversed with them at the bar while drinking. As I looked around, there was a mixture of everybody Black, White, Asian. The energy was definitely good!
The goal for Prince George’s County is to create the experience at Yard House throughout the county at all restaurants and retail venues.
If we do not diversify our shopping, dining, and retail venues we will continue to have businesses not willing to open or leave our county, scaled-down or even failed developments. I also recommend we look at existing shopping centers such as Penn Marr Shopping Center and Centre at Forestville (Forestville Mall) both in Forestville and Largo and Kettering Plazas and encourage redevelopment. All these developments have entirely too much surface parking and yearn for a resurgence. If these developments add a housing component, convert parking lots into parking garages and create a main-street space, it attracts educated people, higher incomes; nonetheless, creating higher foot traffic, ultimately demanding a higher caliber of businesses and services to the county.