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2006 Great Places to Live: Prince George’s County
In Prince George’s, you can find close-in bargains and close-knit communities. By Mary Clare Glover
Comments () | Published April 1, 2006

Prince George’s County is seeing dramatic growth. The number of households is increasing at a faster rate than in any other suburban Maryland county—about 2 percent each year—with many buyers finding more house for the money in Prince George’s than other close-in counties.

The US 1 corridor, which stretches through Mount Rainier, Brentwood, Hyatts­ville, and College Park, has become an arts-and-entertainment district. Communities have sprung up around the Largo Town Center and Branch Avenue Metro stations, which opened within the past five years. People are also finding a range of options in Bowie, in the eastern part of the county.

As the nation’s wealthiest county where the majority of residents are an ethnic minority, Prince George’s offers diverse communities and homeowners with a strong sense of neighborhood pride.

Prince George’s State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey puts it simply: “Once you move to Cheverly, you know you are part of something.” Ivey and his wife, Jolene, have lived in a four-bedroom 1940s-era house in Cheverly for the past 12 years, raising their five boys there.

When Jolene was on bed rest in her fifth pregnancy, neighbors brought over meals for the family and took care of their children. “I need people more than I need a big new house,” Jolene says.

Located off New York Avenue about a mile from the DC line, Cheverly is an incorporated town with its own mayor, police force, trash and recycling services, and newsletter.

There are frequent block parties in the summer and dinner groups throughout the year. The five Ivey boys have been active in the neighborhood’s Boys and Girls Club. Residents take turns hosting the Cheverly Potluck Supper, a dinner group held every second Saturday, and an adult drop-in soccer league has games on most Sundays.

The neighborhood mixes Cape Cods, Colonials, and Tudors with prices starting in the $300,000s and reaching to the high $500,000s.

Located in western Prince George’s County off Route 1, Hyattsville Hills, also called Old Hyattsville, was a blue-collar neighborhood 30 years ago. Today it’s a thriving middle-class community that’s both economically and ethnically diverse. Retiree Sarah Jackson, a 29-year resident, loves the area because “neighbors look out for one another,” she says.

The location and schools are also a big draw. Hyattsville Elementary and Hyattsville Middle School, an arts magnet, are a short walk for most kids. Northwestern High is a public school with a highly regarded visual- and performing-arts program, and DeMatha, a Catholic school, is an all-boys basketball powerhouse.

North on Route 1 is College Park and its many resources; south is the growing Mount Rainier arts district. It’s also conveniently located between two metro stations and close to the Mall at Prince George’s.

Most of the town’s bungalows, Cape Cods, and Colonials were built before the 1950s. Single-family homes range from $300,000 to $600,000.

Just southwest of College Park, University Park is a small community with about 900 single-family homes. Like Cheverly, the town maintains its own park and recreation facilities and has a municipal government, police force, and sanitation services.

Home to many University of Maryland professors and government employees, University Park is a neighborhood of elegant older homes and tree-lined streets.

For years it has been considered a great neighborhood for families. University Park Elementary School is one of the county’s top-ranked elementary schools. The Parent Teacher Association organizes activities and fundraisers like bowling nights, book fairs, and the annual Azalea Classic run each spring.

Empty-nester Dixie Meadows, who moved to University Park to raise her two children 34 years ago, was attracted to the “community of thinking, educated people.” She stays now because “it’s a safe place to live for a person nearing 60.” She and her husband, Wayne Dressler, enjoy working on their backyard garden and taking walks through the neighborhood’s wooded park.

University Park is accessible to two Metro stops and offers several good driving routes to downtown Washington. There are mostly Cape Cods and Colonials built in the 1930s and 1940s with a smattering of newer homes built in the 1970s. Houses typically sell in the $600,000s.

Next to the popular central Prince George’s communities of Woodmore, Woodmore Acres, and Woodmore South is Lake Arbor. It offers many of the bene­fits of its neighbors—newer homes, access to three golf courses, and a convenient location—but at more modest prices.

Lake Arbor’s location is a big plus for residents. Located in Mitchellville, it’s 20 minutes southwest of Annapolis and a short drive to downtown DC. It’s also close to the new Largo Town Center Metro stop as well as the restaurants, shops, and movie theaters at the Boulevard at Capital Center.

Most of Lake Arbor’s single-family homes and townhouses were built in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Prices range from the high $400,000s into the $600,000s.

HOUSE PRICES

CHEVERLY

4 BEDROOMS

$360,000

UNIVERSITY PARK

4 BEDROOMS

$565,000

HYATTSVILLE HILLS

4 BEDROOMS $445,000

Where Prices Have Climbed most in Prince George’s

Neighborhood Zip Code Avg Price 2005 Avg Price 2004 % Change 2005 Sales 2004 Sales
Aquasco 20608 $379,600 $264,650 43% 8 6
Capitol Heights 20743 $206,849 $150,525 37% 1,098 1,219
Brentwood 20722 $278,295 $202,876 37% 129 178
Hyattsville 20784 $264,853 $195,623 35% 619 722
Oxon Hill 20745 $231,892 $175,886 32% 364 475

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 04/01/2006 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Articles