Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mini-Boom on College Park’s Main Street

While College Park may be lacking in restaurants, nightlife and shopping, it is flush with something rarer: warm bodies in need of shelter. As the seat of the University of Maryland, the Prince George’s County hamlet has a virtual guarantee of student rentals. But given the general lackluster quality of most College Park amenities, two local developers are thinking of solving both problems when it comes to new residential projects on CP’s busiest artery – Baltimore Avenue (Route 1).

The Mark Vogel Companies received the go-ahead just last month from the College Park City Council for their aptly-named Varsity at College Park development – a mixed-use project that would see 258 residential units erected above 20,000 square feet of retail space. Possibilities for the retail space, which would be located next to a similarly styled, college-centric residence hall include a restaurant, coffeehouse and variety of small businesses uses.

The Varsity project, which was also endorsed by College Park Mayor Steve Brayman, barely eked through the approval process, due to concerns over harm to a nearby streambed. Vogel has since committed to spending roughly $750,000 on improving and fortifying the nearby creek. Though the developer has yet to secure all of the financing for the multi-million dollar project, construction is still slated to begin this coming June.

While the Varsity is planned to matriculate next to College Park landmarks like the Town Hall and, um, Jerry's Subs, another similarly-scaled project in the area will remake one. Formerly known as the Starlight Inn, owner Star Hotels, LLC is aiming to revamp their parcel on the 8700 block of Baltimore Avenue with the StarView Plaza – likely welcome to most as an addition to a route best known as the home of Jiffy Lube. The plans for the StarView prepared by Grant Architects include specifications for a 2.4 acre facility intended to include 177 residential units, along with 32,000 square feet of office and retail space. Additional amenities will include a pool and a green roof to accompany its LEED silver certification.

The six-story project was approved by the City Council last September and is currently slated to take on tenants in the fall of 2010. Folger Pratt will serve as general contractor, once the project gets underway, it is estimated, this coming November.


Anonymous said...

great idea. someone should convince REI to move out of their current College Park digs and into some of the new retail space...

Anonymous said...

Rt 1 is such a mess. It's almost embarrassing. They need to do some major streescaping, among other things. PG County holds developers hostage for bribes and money for their pet projects, so this area likely won't change for a while.

Anonymous said...

Its a crime that they would even allow ANY more development to go up on an already traffic clogged, polluted, and hideous route 1. When will officials stop being so concerned about tax revenue, bribes, and kickbacks and start thinking about adequate infrastructure for residents??

DAK4Blizzard on Mar 7, 2009, 1:22:00 AM said...

In response to the previous post...

This will be good tax revenue, and it's a good project because it's within walking distance of the UMD campus. Officials have been thinking about how to improve Route 1 for quite some time now, and there are real plans to make it happen.

Go here to learn about what's been planned for the part of Route 1 running through College Park: http://www.sha.state.md.us/WebProjectLifeCycle/ProjectInformation.asp?projectno=PG2531116

There's also plans to improve Route 1 further north in Beltsville, which can be viewed here: http://www.sha.state.md.us/WebProjectLifeCycle/ProjectInformation.asp?projectno=PG9491116

Granted, these projects have been put on hold, and it seems that construction wouldn't actually begin until at least 2012, unless a miracle happens.

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