PRINCE GEORGES PLAZA
East-West Highway and Belcrest Road
Hyattsville, Maryland

The first shopping mall in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC was designed by New York City's Lathrop Douglass and developed by Yonkers, New York's Eastern Shopping Centers. Originally open-air, PRINCE GEORGES PLAZA was built on a 56 acre tract, located 6.5 miles northeast of the United States Capitol, in suburban Hyattsville. The site had been part of the Christian Heurich estate.

The PRINCE GEORGES PLAZA parking area was divided into upper and lower levels, with the shopping center consisting of 2 floors. A lower level included a small concourse of stores, with the remainder of its area being devoted to shipping and receiving. During the mall's early years, the basement also served as a fallout shelter.

A 3-level (195,600 square foot), Arlington, Virginia-based Hecht's held its grand opening November 2, 1958. A (45,000 square foot) Grand Union supermarket opened December 17, 1958. A (100,000 square foot) G.C. Murphy 5 & 10 was dedicated, along with the bulk of the mall, on March 12, 1959.

Among forty original stores and services were Peoples Drug, Brentano's Books, Bond Clothes, Wilson's men's wear, Hahn Shoes, Edward's Shoes, Baker's Shoes and Plaza Liquors.

A 2-level (148,700 square foot), Washington-based Woodward & Lothrop ["Low-thrup"] was dedicated August 1, 1966. The store was built on the site of the original Grand Union, with a new supermarket structure having been added to the southwest corner of the shopping hub.

Competing retail centers in the PRINCE GEORGES PLAZA trade area included WHEATON PLAZA (1960) {6.7 miles northwest, in Montgomery County}, CAPITAL PLAZA (1963-2005) {2.9 miles southeast, in Prince George's County} and LANDOVER MALL (1972-2006) {6.1 miles southeast, also in Prince George's County}.

The first renovation of PRINCE GEORGES PLAZA was done in the mid-1970s, when courts and concourses were enclosed and climate-controlled. A "Grand Closing" ceremony was held in August 1977, marking completion of the project. At this time, the shopping hub encompassed approximately 856,000 leasable square feet and contained ninety stores and services.

A subsequent remodeling, completed in June 1990, added a 10-bay Food Court at the mall's Main Entrance. The shopping venue became rapid transit accessible December 11, 1993, with the opening of the DC METRO Prince George's Plaza Station. This terminal, a stop on the METRO Green Line, was located across the East-West Highway from the mall.

"PG PLAZA" was acquired by the Philadephia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust in September 1998. Woodward & Lothrop had closed November 10, 1995. The store re-opened, as a J.C. Penney, July 20, 1996. G.C. Murphy was shuttered August 31, 1999. In 2003, the vacant store was razed. Soon, a 6 million dollar mall refurbishment was underway.

A 1-level (136,000 square foot) Target was built on the Murphy's spot. This store opened for business in October 2004. It occupied the upper level of an east end addition, with the lower level housing a (35,000 square foot) Marshalls and (34,000 square foot) Ross Dress For Less. These were dedicated in late 2006.

As part of the mall renovation, a  formal name change to MALL AT PRINCE GEORGES had become official November 16, 2004. The shopping hub now encompassed approximately 914,000 leasable square feet, with a tenant list of one hundred and twenty. On September 9, 2006, the Hecht's store was rebranded by Macy's.

Massachusetts-based T.J. Maxx renovated a (27,500 square foot) space, previously leased by Office Depot and Lenscrafters, and opened for business October 20, 2013. Swedish fashion retailer H & M gutted five inline store spaces in the mall's northwest block. Their (20,000 square foot) store was dedicated December 2, 2016.

A 30 million dollar mall remodeling, which added new facades to the exterior and completely renovated interior common areas, got underway in early 2017. The project was completed in November of the same year.

Sources:

The Washington Post
"Prince George's Plaza (Washington Metro)" article on Wikipedia
"Prince George's County Shopping Centers" /
http://www.mncppc.org
"Woodward & Lothrop" article on Wikipedia
www.princegeorgesplaza.com
www.preit.com (Pennyslvania Real Estate Investment Trust)


BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS:

From the Gottscho-Schleisner Collection / Repository: United States Library Of Congress Prints and Photograph Division, Washington, D.C. / Taken by Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., May 29, 1959 / Douglas Lathrop - Client / Photographs are in the public domain: no known restrictions on publication / www.loc.gov/rr/print/catalog.html / Negatives / LC-6613 series: numbers 74110 through 74127-A.