Thursday, November 5, 2009

percontee: giving new life to the county line

part ONE of a series about new development proposals in Calverton and Hyattsville by Percontee.

Belcrest Plaza
Percontee's conference room, located deep within an office park off Tech Road, doesn't inspire at first. Its walls are covered in the yellowing photos of buildings finished years ago. A 1960's-era ad for a Laurel apartment complex advertises rents of $100 a month. There's a plaque celebrating the renovation of Wheaton Plaza - in 1987.

You wouldn't expect this to be the birthplace of thirty-story apartment towers . . . in Hyattsville. Or a research-park-turned-downtown in Calverton. For decades, eastern Montgomery and Prince George's counties have clamored for the kind of amenities - corporate headquarters, white-tablecloth restaurants - that Rockville and Bethesda have taken for granted. And Percontee wants to make it happen soon, sort of.

Over the next week, Just Up The Pike explores the latest proposals from a company that played a big part in building suburban Maryland. Can their sexy renderings and promises of the good life become a reality? Or will they go back on a shelf with the Last Big Thing to hit the county line? You're about to find out starting tomorrow:

"trying to feed the FDA": In Calverton, Percontee courts the Food and Drug Administration with a complex of homes, shops and research facilities adjacent to their new campus.

"not just sticks and bricks": The Gudelsky family's been building in the D.C. area for over fifty years. Just a few miles away from where Homer and Martha Gudelsky grew up, the company seeks to create its "legacy project."

"seats at the table": It's a first in East County - local civic associations give their full support to Percontee's proposal, eager for jobs and amenities. But did a lack of political support stall the project?

"new heights in hyattsville": A few miles away at Prince George's Plaza, Percontee proposes redeveloping a 60's-era apartment complex into a new urban neighborhood. Can they recreate Bethesda on the Green Line?

"too good to be true": Hyattsville-area residents are nervous about the potential for gentrification at Belcrest Plaza. Is the revitalization doing enough to improve all parts of the community?


Cilla said...

Is Percontee related to Contee Sand and Gravel? Any history of the Contee name would be interesting.

Thomas Hardman said...

I do know that Contee Construction once held title to much of Aspen Hill, especially the tracts that were eventually developed by the Levitt corporation (of Levittown fame) as "Strathmore at BelPre".

They bought up a whole lot of the old Beall Tract, which had been subdivided in and out of various hands in the late 19th century and early part of the 20th century. One of the Contee purchases may be found in the Montgomery County Land Records at Liber 1816 folio 328.

See that link to "Strathmore", above, and follow the link to "plat maps". Around the edges of that development you'll find a lot of notations to "Contee" and to "outer circumferential freeway", that being the old "Rockville Facility".

That can also be found on various other plat maps in and around Aspen Hill, notably in Harmony Hills and Hermitage Park.

Sources: MD/Montgomery Land Records and their Plats Network sites.