Sign of Change at MPG — &pizza expected to open on July 19

Construction is underway at the Mall at Prince Georges. The mall is now going by the acronym MPG. Photo by Juliette Fradin Photography

By Maria D. James  This month, the Mall at Prince Georges (MPG) will add two quick-service restaurants to its portfolio of new retailers and expanded dining options. The much anticipated additions to the mall signal the completion of phase two: a $30 million dollar investment “to reshape the customer experience through a combination of remerchandising efforts and curb appeal enhancements,” according to mall owner Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) in a press release.

The first of the two new restaurants opening in July is &pizza (pronounced as it looks: “and pizza”). The restaurant, which pays its workers a living wage, is  known for its creative custom-made rectangular-shaped pizzas and is scheduled to open on Friday, July 13. Mezeh Mediterranean Grill, which specializes in fresh Mediterranean dishes, is slated to open on Wednesday, July 18.

Update: According to the Mall, as of July 12, the grand opening date for &pizza has moved to Thursday, July 19 at 11 a.m. The opening date for Mezeh Mediterranean Grill also moved to mid-August. The dates are subject to change based on construction. 

The restaurants will join the lineup of fast-dining spots located along the East-West Highway side of the mall between Target and the food court: Five Guys, which relocated to the mall from its location near the movie theatre on America Boulevard earlier this year; and Chipotle, which opened in June. Another family-style dining option is expected to join Outback Steakhouse and Olive Garden very soon. PREIT was unable to confirm the name of the restaurant as of press time.

Expanded dining options are just one part of the renovation. At the end of June, retailer Five Below opened in a new building next to TJ Maxx. PREIT also made changes to the exterior of the mall to enhance its curb appeal. Shoppers will notice the repaved parking lot and the neon MPG logo installed along the East-West Highway side of the building. A new entry sign will be going up soon next to Outback Steakhouse.

The mall’s long-time sign is coming down to make way for a sign that fits the mall’s new branding. Photo by Maria D. James.

 

Phase two of the mall’s renovation added new retailers: ULTA Beauty, Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW), Pandora, ALEX and ANI, and, most recently, Express Factory Outlet.

According to Express Factory Outlet’s store manager Taylor Smallwood, the new store is different from the typical Express. He described that an outlet store does not keep a lot of items in inventory and everything available for purchase is out on the floor.

In May, PREIT made the announcement that fashion retailer Forever 21 will join the retail mix in the fall of 2019 with an 8,000 square foot store.

Some of the mall’s long-time retailers have temporarily closed their doors to invest in a makeover or to relocate. Healthy Magic is now near the elevators by Target, retailer Olive Ole reopened next to The Children’s Place after a renovation, and Lane Bryant is now located across from Victoria’s Secret/Pink. Planet Fitness closed for renovations and equipment upgrades.

“With a diverse mix of tenants across retail, dining and experiential, MPG continues to be a stand-out property in our portfolio with sales of $513 per square foot, exhibiting 6 percent growth before many of these additions have opened,” said Joseph F. Coradino, CEO of PREIT in a press release.

During a special tour of the mall, Marketing Director Victoria Clark shared with the Hyattsville Life & Times elements of the renovation shoppers might not notice, including Wi-Fi access, new seating throughout the mall with tables that feature sockets for cell phone charging, upgraded interior and exterior lighting fixtures, new ceiling tiles and additional security cameras. New flooring is on the horizon, as well.

Even on a Tuesday evening, the mall was bustling with shoppers. According to Clark, the high foot traffic isn’t unusual for MPG, as the new stores and renovations are attracting more shoppers.

“We are getting customers from Silver Spring for reasons such as free parking. People in Adelphi are coming to the mall, and DSW brought them to this mall,” said Clark.

Last fall, PREIT estimated investing $25 million dollars into the mall. In spring 2018 that investment increased, with good reason.

“Ultimately, we turned over more of the tenancy than expected and did more work to the common area than planned,” said Heather Crowell, senior vice president of Strategy and Communication for PREIT. “As part of our $30 million redevelopment project, we’re focused on reimagining the mall experience at the property by bringing in tenants that offer a diverse range of concepts. This includes new-to-market, such as &pizza, or relocated and revitalized tenants. We’ve also kept a pulse on the trending fast-fashion and off-price retail segments, adding Five Below, Express and Forever 21 to further appeal to shoppers’ evolving behaviors.”

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