Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor
Greenbelt, Md.–Fieldstone Properties, the new owner of Franklin Park at Greenbelt Station, a massive 153-acre rental apartment and townhome property in Prince George’s County, Md., has decided to seek about $15 million in tax-increment financing (TIF) for a variety of public infrastructure improvements to the property, including a pedestrian walkway and bridge to the Greenbelt Metro Station. Fieldstone is also interested in using TIF for major improvements in energy efficiency at Franklin Park.
The new ownership has set aside $15 million for both external and interior renovations to the property–formerly Empirian Village–which is about 40 years old. Since acquiring the property last fall, Fieldstone Properties has already renovated 85 of the its 2,877 rental apartments and plans to continue renovating apartments at the rate of 80 to 100 per month. Individual apartment upgrades include fitting kitchens and baths with condominium finishes, hardwood and new ceramic tile floors, new lighting fixtures, and refurbished balcony railings.
The company has also completed a backlog of over 10,000 tenant work-order requests and started free weekday shuttle transportation to both the Greenbelt Metro Station and the University of Maryland-College Park for residents. Community-wide security improvements, including call boxes, a dedicated onsite police officer, and security camera enhancements, have been made, and future plans include adding a fitness center and daycare provider.
Since the property houses about half of the population of Greenbelt, Fieldstone believes that the kind of public-private partnership that TIF represents is appropriate. “Despite the current climate of austerity, Franklin Park is successfully developing public-private partnerships that will help facilitate creative financing options,” Debbie Dillon, executive vice president, Fieldstone Properties, tells MHN. “Fieldstone envisions a collaborative partnership with the common goal of improving the property’s tax revenue and economic impact on Prince George’s County. Franklin Park is poised to provide much-needed workforce housing for Prince George’s County and the City of Greenbelt.”
Dillion adds that, unlike an owner or developer seeking to convert a close-in property to luxury housing, Fieldstone Properties wants to work local government to provide affordable workforce housing for active-duty military and veterans, government employees and students.“By operating efficiently and buying in volume, we can offer renovated apartments with luxury finishes while keeping rents affordable for those with household incomes starting at $37,000,” she says.