Marshe’ Edwards has been a resident of Capitol Heights her whole life. She remembers going to the Boulevard at Capital Centre, an open-air mall filled with chain stores as well as local designers, a hopping movie theater, and plenty of restaurant options.
“[The Boulevard] was the place to be for high schoolers, for couples, for the older people, and then it’s right off the train,” Edwards says. But the Boulevard, which opened in 2003, didn’t stay popular for long. Malls in general began to decline, including the Boulevard, which was partially demolished in 2019.
“It was like it was here one day, gone the next,” Edwards says. “And then when they started closing down the stores, that’s when there was an increase in violence because the kids now had nothing to do.”
The loss of much of the retail at the Boulevard — as well as other shopping centers like Landover Mall, which peaked in the 80s and 90s and closed in 2002 — left a void in the communities along the Blue Line, say Edwards and other residents. Because of that, they’re eagerly awaiting more details on County Executive Angela Alsobrooks’ plans to transform the Blue Line corridor. Those include $400 million dedicated to projects around FedEx Field — discussions that are about to get a lot more interesting as the Washington Commanders’ new stadium search begins in earnest.
Alsobrooks rolled out her vision for the Blue Line in June 2021, but it really started moving in January of this year, when the Maryland Board of Public Works approved $400 million in bonds to develop property around FedEx Field. The plan includes an amphitheater, a youth sports field house, a central library and cultural center, a civic plaza at the Wayne K. Curry Building, and a market hall.