The iconic but currently vacant TESST building in downtown Hyattsville could see new life in the near future. Streetsense, the Bethesda-based real-estate planning and development firm has recently acquired the property and plans on eventually renting it out to commercial tenants.
According to Marc Ratner, CEO of Streetsense, Hyattsville's downtown Route 1 corridor is fertile ground for redevelopment. Recent work to renovate existing city parking lots, expand on-street parking, and plans to construct a new parking facility along Route 1 are attracting attention among developers.
"All of those things are very positive in terms of spurring additional development," said Ratner in an interview. "We remain extremely interested in wanting to acquire properties along Route 1 with the vision of improving the long term viability of the marketplace."
Streetsense is known among the Hyattsville business scene for its work developing and leasing retail spaces in the EYA development two blocks up the road from the TESST building. On Monday, the company was profiled by The Washington Post for its redevelopment work in the region. Streetsense has also been selected as the developer of a planned mixed-use residential complex at the Bass Liquors site in Mount Rainier's Route 1 corridor.
Located at 5122 Baltimore Avenue, the TESST building sits next to bicycle shop Arrow Bicycle to the south and restaurant Under the Coconut Tree to the north. Also across the street is
According to data on file with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, the 10,000 square foot TESST Building property, including improvements, has an assessed value of roughly $1.35 million.
The building has seen a number of owners over the last few years. In 2006, David Tolson purchased the property for $1.37 million. The building changed hands again in Aug., 2011 when Tamara Sadowski purchased the property for $690,000. Then, in late November 2012, the building was bought by Apple Tree Holding Company for $783,000.
Within the last three weeks, Streetsense acquired the property for roughly that same price, according to Ratner. That information has yet to make it to the Department of Assessments and Taxation's online records.
Ratner said that his company has no plans to demolish or build onto the building. Instead, workers will renovate the interiors to prepare them for new tennants.
"The first floor lends itself well to retail. The second floor lends itself to offices, but we'll entertain anything," said Ratner.
From 1957 through 1998, the building served as the main campus for the TESST College of Technology–a vocational school focusing on technology, electrical engineering and computers–before they moved local operations to Beltsville.