Can too much development be a bad thing in Prince George’s County?

The MGM casino in the National Harbor is nearing completion. Via Candace Rojo-Keyes

The MGM casino in the National Harbor is nearing completion. Via Candace Rojo-Keyes

Prince George’s County will see economic development projects reaching the value of nearly $6 billion. But some citizens around the county are questioning whether that is the best thing to happen for its citizens.

Prince George’s County, like the rest of America, was hit hard by the economic downturn. But with multiple economic development projects on the horizon, the county could see a turnaround fairly soon with multiple economic development projects on the horizon.

But some county citizens say that while there are positives to the economic development spurring around the county, there may be some citizens who will be priced out of their homes because of it.

THE GOOD AND THE BAD OF THE RECESSION

According to real estate data provided by Long & Foster, Prince George’s County homes once had a median sales price of $340,000. Today, median home values in the county sit at $240,000.

In 2011, the median sales price of homes in the county were just $150,000 – which is the lowest the county has seen over the last 10 years according to the data.

PGCOUNTYHOUSING

Stats made available via Prince George’s County’s office of budget and finance

Having the county’s home rates at where they currently stand is not necessarily a bad thing Stanford Fraser, a long-time county resident, said in a phone interview.

Fraser said home affordability could be a big concern for the county with many new projects in the fold, but having prices stabilized where they are may help keep housing affordable for those in Prince George’s County.

“Because of the foreclosure issues there are still a decent amount of people with homes still ‘underwater’ or home values that haven’t increased,” Fraser said.

Tom Himler, deputy chief administrative officer of finance and budget for County Executive Rushern Baker III, said Prince George’s County’s foreclosure rate is still among the worst in the state at with one home in every 396 being foreclosed on.

Families who have lived in the county for decades have voiced their struggles, Delman Coates, a senior pastor at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church and a social advocate, said. They have been struggling with foreclosures “for years,” he said .

“There is concern about the gentrification that we’ve seen in Washington, D.C. stretching and reaching into Prince George’s County,” Coates said in a phone interview.  “People are concerned about neighborhood conversion plans leading to displacement.”

Growth and development are good, Coates said, for Prince George’s County. But having it at the expense of low and middle income families in Prince George’s County cannot happen, he said.

DO RESIDENTS HAVE TO LEAVE THEIR HOMES?

It does not have to be that way and should not be that way, Fraser said. Prince George’s County’s government must address those concerns, he said, by examining their zoning policies and principles.

Gone are the days where single families are moving into the county and searching for single family homes, Fraser said. Instead, he said, the market for millennials in Prince George’s County is increasing and more multi-family homes and apartment complexes are in development.

Yolanda Muckle, a Long & Foster real estate agent based out of Prince George’s County, said in a phone interview the county’s improving assessment rate and the increase in economic development will likely raise the prices of homes in the county.

“There are a lot of areas where there are a lot of foreclosures, but unless they have to do a short sale, they have no reason to leave” -Yolanda Muckle, Long & Foster Real Estate.

There have not been any solid projections on home values made from Long & Foster or the county, as of yet, both Himler and Muckle said. But based on the data gathered from previous years, Muckle said, it is conceivable that there will be an increase in home prices.

“You have buyers out there looking at houses that are not necessarily on the market yet. That naturally moves prices up because of demand. And Prince George’s is an attractive place,” Muckle said.

Just over the horizon in the next ten years, the county will see multiple multi-billion dollar projects coming in.

The $1.2 billion MGM National Harbor Casino is scheduled open in May of 2016, the $2.45 billion Purple Line light rail project construction is slated to begin late next year and the county could potentially be awarded the bid for the new $1.2 billion FBI facility the General Services Administration is looking for. And the county expecting to get approved by the state a $650 million Regional Medical Center in Largo.

All of those projects factor in to a buyer’s market, Muckle said, and make the county a place with “a lot of different fields and areas” to live, she said. And an increase in home prices does not mean citizens will be priced out, she said.

“There are a lot of areas where there are a lot of foreclosures, but unless they have to do a short sale, they have no reason to leave” Muckle said.

THE GOVERNMENT STEPS IN

Despite that increase in people moving into the county, though, their tax returns only have an average income of just over $41,000 according to governing.com’s data. And according to data gathered from the Census Bureau, the median income for residents in Prince George’s County is $73,623.

Prince George’s County Council Chairman Derrick Leon Davis is aware of the economic development sprouting up throughout the county and is preparing for it.

Purple Line

The path of the Purple Line, tentatively scheduled to begin construction in late 2016. Via the Maryland Transportation Authority

“We have some of the most affordable housing from single families to multi families,” Davis said. “What we need to look at is how we grow in Prince George’s County so that all of the people in this region who hear about our story have a place to be.”

According to housing market indicators retrieved from Himler, the county’s median home sales price is less than Montgomery County, Anne Arundel County, Washington Fairfax County – all regions bordering Prince George’s County.

HomeVals

Via Prince George’s County’s office of budget and finance

Himler said there have already been initiatives put forth by the county government to keep the housing in Prince George’s affordable.

“The County provides up to $10,000 in assistance for homeowners in need of emergency funds to remain in their homes under specific conditions such as sickness, loss of work and etcetera,” Himler said.

In addition to home ownership assistance funding, Himler said, the county provides homeowner assistance in restructuring mortgages. They also partnered with the state on a “Triple Play” home buyer assistance program.

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