East Campus Public Meetings Thursday, Friday, and Monday

We have just heard that the University and Foulger-Pratt/Argo Investments are hosting a public information forum on the East Campus Development on Monday, May 7, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Ritchie Coliseum to “introduce the preliminary concepts of the development to any and all interested parties.”

This image is one of several very preliminary images released earlier in April.

UPDATE: We have just learned there are TWO ADDITIONAL meetings scheduled for this week. Needless to say, we are dissapointed by the late notice we recieved of these events. We believe it is important all three be well attended:
Thursday, May 3: 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the University Visitor’s Center
Friday, May 4: 12:00 noon to 1 p.m. at Tydings Hall, Room 0117

> RSVP Now on the Event on Facebook
> See our post, “Raising the Profile of East Campus Redevelopment
> Read a memo we prepared for administrators about public input: Engaging the Community in the East Campus Redevelopment
> See all our East Campus posts

Glendening in Silver Spring Wednesday at 5PM

Parris Glendening, former two-term Governor of Maryland and champion of the State’s Smart Growth legislation will appear in Silver Spring to be honored by the Coalition to Build the Inner Purple Line. Formally a UMD Professor and City Councilmember of Hyattsville, Glendening rose through the ranks of PG County and state politics to become a recognized national leader in sensible development. Wednesday he will talk about the role of transit in smart growth development. We hope to see you there.

“Every new classroom costs $90,000, every mile of new sewer line costs roughly $200,000, and every single lane-mile of new road costs at least $4 million.”

“If you design communities for automobiles, you get more automobiles. If you design them for people, you get walkable, livable communities.” ~ Parris Glendening

Here’s the announcement from CTBIPL:

All interested citizens are invited to join the Coalition on Wednesday, May 2nd at 5 PM as we honor former Governor Parris N. Glendening in the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Auditorium, 8787 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring.

In 1999, the Purple Line was many lines on a map. Gov. Glendening will be honored for his leadership in promoting the Inner Purple Line at that critical time. The former Governor, now a national leader on Smart Growth, recognized the value of an alignment that connects Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park and New Carrollton.

For Bethesda, the project promised to encourage a continued increase in the use of transit to reach this economically healthy downtown. For Silver Spring, it supported the then-fragile revitalization effort. For the University Boulevard corridor, it promised to open up a somewhat economically fragile area to revitalization. For College Park, the Purple Line could potentially turn around the current dismal transit ridership of the University of Maryland community, and for New Carrollton it holds out hope that this transit-accessible center will be redefined in a more pedestrian friendly manner.

Two Articles and the Econ Development Update

greenbelt place - 11x17 - 01-03-07.pdf-2.jpg

Two interesting and relevant articles were sent to us by readers:

—> The first is a column explaining the sorry state of PG County:

RE: Mazza Grandmarc (quote from the article):

“Here is a county council that now routinely uses extraordinary powers to take jurisdiction over developments already okayed by the planning board…”

—> Another article from the Washington Post (Maryland Weathers Slump in Housing Market) explains why PG county home prices are outpacing the region.

—> Also, take a look at this month’s CP ECON DEVELOPMENT UPDATE.

Maryland Day Tomorrow

Maryland Day 2005Tomorrow, more that 80,000 people are expected to descend on College Park for the 9th annual Maryland Day. Preparations have been underway since early this week to construct seven villages around campus including, for this year, a “global village” on Hornbake Plaza where participants will be able to purchase sushi, watch Caribbean dance, and even participate in an IKEA furniture assembly competition.

Check out the Maryland Day website for a full listing of events and logistical information.

Planning for a ‘Greener Greenbelt’

Old GreenbeltThis Saturday community leaders in Greenbelt will launch a major 3-year effort to create a vision and strategic plan for the future of old Greenbelt. Called the Greener Greenbelt Initiative, the project is a a joint partnership between the city and the Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, with involvement from the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Greenbelt was built in 1937 by the federal government as a New Deal project. Recently, major redevelopment projects at Beltway Plaza, Springhill Lake Apartments, and the Greenbelt Station could transform the town.

The project kicks off this Saturday with an open house at the Roosevelt Center from 10:00 a.m. until 2 p.m. where residents can learn more about the project and how they can get involved in the effort to ensure Greenbelt remains “a national model of an attractive, livable, affordable and healthy community.” The effort will begin with several community events this summer leading up to a design charrette with AIA members in September where architects will work with community members to put ideas to paper. For more information about the project, contact UMD Professor and Greenbelt resident Jim Cohen at jimcohen at umd.edu.

> > Download an informational flyer about the project (PDF)

Byrd Stadium Expansion Details Released

Tyser Tower

Byrd Stadium

We first heard about the expansion of Byrd Stadium back in August and a concurrent naming rights sale to Chevy Chase Bank. We’re now getting word on the specifics of the project from a press release:

Phase I (August 2010 delivery – pictured above):

* Dramatic expansion of Tyser Tower
* Addition of 64 luxury suites featuring indoor and outdoor seating
* Addition of 500 mezzanine-level seats featuring heated and covered seating
* New Presidential Suite with seating for 200
* New work areas for television, radio and print media
* New work areas for coaches and game-day operations staff
* New team store
* Enhanced seating for disabled customers
* Installation of a new state-of-the-art video board above the west end zone.

Phase II and beyond (Undetermined delivery):

* Installation of railings on stairways to enhance fan safety and comfort
* Installation of chairback seating in the 200 level of the north side
* New restrooms and concessions on the south side
* Lowering of the playing field to improve sight lines for the first 10 rows
* Painting of roofs along the concourse
* Expansion of the Gossett Team House to improve athletic training and locker room facilities
* Addition of nearly 8,000 seats in the west end zone, bringing capacity to about 60,000.

Byrd Stadium

Mazza Saga Continues

Mazza 11x17 Site Plan“Unbelievable” is the only way to describe the scene at the County Council chambers this morning in Upper Marlboro. The developer of the proposed 630 bed graduate student housing project Mazza Grandmarc (LOCATION) finally came before the Council almost a year after Councilmen Dernoga “called up” the project for review. They poured over the Detailed Site Plan in painstaking detail – covering everything from architectural critiques to storm water management and (unsubstantiated) traffic concerns. The talks at times became extremely heated – especially between Dernoga and the applicant’s lawyer.

What the Council came to realize is that the their Planning Board Staff (as is their job) and the City of College Park had already brokered a series of laudable and complex compromises with developer since 2004. The meeting also confirmed what everyone else in attendance already knew – there was no conceivable reason to stall the project in May 2006. The Council seemed to be desperately trying to justify the yearlong delay of the project, but in the end they came up woefully short.

Still, they decided to take the project “Under Advisement” which means that they can review it for a maximum of 60 days to determine: (1) approval of the project, (2) approval with conditions, or (3) outright rejection of the project. Several issues were raised, but the most serious for the Council seemed to be:

  • The project’s failure to meet minimum (at least 75% coverage) brick facade requirements as laid out the Sector Plan
  • The project’s lack of “green” building standards

The Council’s contention was that the developer’s proposed brick coverage (45% total and 100% on the visible portions) is not sufficient and that the Planning Board erred in waiving the Sector Plan’s 75% brick coverage requirement. TheMazza Front Elevation developer agreed to make this costly addition to their plan although some members of the council indicated that they expected 100% coverage on all sides. Portions of the building which the council argued should be bricked are completely hidden by a dense forest leading many to wonder: what is the point of such a wasteful use of money and natural resources? Ironically, the brick will replace what was proposed as Hardiplank – an attractive and environmentally sound cement siding product made from ground sand and cellulose fibers. Not even the University View was required to have 100% brick coverage and that project is actually visible on more than just one side.

Councilmen Dernoga was particularly adamant about Mazza’s lack of “Green” Building standards. He pointed again to Route 1 Sector Plan Guidelines which suggest developers explore green building practices. Yet as College Park Planner Director Terry Schum rightfully noted, that section and many other sections of the Sector Plan are simply guidelines that cannot be enforced as mandates. Such a line of reasoning prompted Dernoga to ask if “the sector plan counts for anything?” It’s widely expected that the county will require at least a Silver LEED rating for new buildings, but no such law is on the books at this time and the Mazza developer probably can’t legally be held such a standard. The Council certainly didn’t have to wait until today to indicate that they expected either of these changes to the project.

So what’s the takeaway point from this mess? We’re not sure, but it’s definitely concerning when one man (Tom Dernoga) can stand in the way of a major student housing project in the height of the University’s worst housing crunch in 20 years. Not only is Dernoga delaying woefully needed Graduate Student beds, but he used the project force a change to a State law that gives incentives for other student housing projects in College Park. When the Mazza developer first stepped foot on the project site in the Summer of 2001 he never could have predicted that it would take 6 years to come to this point. In the interim he had to deal with an unimaginable number of site constraints (common to College Park) and political hurdles. While it appears that the project will eventually go forward, it won’t open for students until Fall 2009 or 2010 if all goes according to plan. Of course things never go according to plan in College Park.

Developer’s East Campus Vision Emerges

Potential StreetscapeFoulger-Pratt and Argo Investment Company, the University’s selected development partner, presented their vision for East Campus last night. The presentation included conceptual drawings from their winning proposal, details on the number of housing units and amounts of retail space as well as answers to audience questions. Though they stressed that their plans are only preliminary conceptual drawings, the crowd was nonetheless impressed.

The developers were optimistic about the site’s development potential, commenting that the University’s own market research underestimated the possible retail opportunities in such a project. They added that College Park has “a strong underlying market of students,” thus better insulating the town from the fluctuating demands of business cycles. On that note, they explained that non-student housing (that is, all housing except the planned graduate housing) was necessary on the site to ensure a year-round demand for a strong retail sector.

To allay concerns that East Campus will replicate the flaws of the developer’s Silver Spring project, the development team asserted that the special circumstances of college towns and of the current investment climate are far more amenable to mixed-use development. They explained that when the Silver Spring project was planned, mixed-use suburban development was considered too risky; fortunately, attitudes have since changed. “We’re not looking to redo Silver Spring here again,” they said, possibly referring to the previous project’s lack of housing. Bryant Foulger added that they are careful not to make East Campus look like an ersatz Disneyland, as many critics have described their work in Silver Spring.

Fortunately, the team also said it was conscious of the community’s desire to retain and recruit local businesses to the development as it had done for its Silver Spring project. Their drawings, though purely conceptual, show the proposed Purple Line running through the site.

For our readers who demand numbers, we can tell you that the Foulger-Pratt vision includes:

  • 2000 housing units (not to be confused with beds)
  • 400,000 sq. ft. of retail space (For comparison, the McKeldin Library’s seven floors and basement add up to about 200,000 sq. ft. total)
  • 350 new beds on North Campus to compensate for the loss of Leonardtown.

So when is the groundbreaking? Though today’s freshmen probably won’t get to stroll through an East Campus plaza until their graduate years, the time line depends heavily on the approval process, which involves future public input sessions, City input, County approval, and University approval. Only once the developer clears these hurdles can they start to build the college town the University of Maryland deserves and desperately needs.

Check out these conceptual images! (N.B. These are conceptual drawings, not the final plans).

Proposed East Capus Plaza behind existing power plant

First East Campus Presentation This Wednesday

Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and Rethink College Park are hosting the first information session on East Campus since the selection of Foulger-Pratt as the University’s development partner. In attendance at tomorrow’s information session will be V.P. of Administrative Affairs Doug Duncan, and both Richard Perlmutter and Bryant Foulger of Foulger-Pratt.

This event will be the first in the series of public input forums the University will hold to discuss East Campus.
Though this event is aimed at the Greek community, all are welcome to attend.

Wednesday, April 18 at 7:00 pm
Sigma Phi Epsilon
8 Fraternity Row

We hope to see you there.

Senseless

vatech.jpg

The campus and indeed the entire world was shocked to hear early yesterday of the senseless and random killings of over 30 students and faculty members at Virginia Tech by a lone gunman. A candlelight vigil will be held today at 8PM on McKeldin Mall. The Chapel will be open today until 5PM for reflection and quiet space and the university is providing a number of services for the grieving. Our hearts go out to all those touched by this terrible tragedy.