Meet us at First Look Fair!

umdRethink College Park will have their own booth at the First Look Fair this Thursday, September 20, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on McKeldin Mall at the University of Maryland campus. Come meet the contributors, learn more about what we do, and find out how you can get more involved. We will be located in the Community Service section of the fair. We look forward to seeing you there!

Second JPI Project Approved

College Park West - The Jefferson

“The Jefferson” (pictured above), a proposed 220-unit mixed-use project was approved by the PG County Planning Board late last week. The project site is just north of 193 at the former location of Hillcrest Hotel and Lasiks and across Route 1 from JPI’s already approved “Jefferson Square” project (pictured below). The newly approved project will contain 25,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor that will be spread out among three separate spaces. Both JPI projects will include underground parking. Councilman Dernoga is widely expected to “pull” the newly approved project for review (if he hasn’t already) just as he did for Jefferson Square. Taken together, these projects will bring a huge boost to Route 1 and they are the two projects in the corridor that we expect to come to fruition the soonest.

—> Read the Detailed Site Plan

Jefferson Square Condominiums

Tax Increment Financing 101

As Route 1 redevelopment progresses with the East Campus and other projects, there may be opportunities for the public sector to use tax increment financing as an incentive for developers. Tax increment financing, a form of a public-private partnership, is an agreement between a developer and municipality in which future tax revenues are used to subsidize infrastructure or other public amenities.

The idea is that certain projects have such positive economic impacts that municipalities are willing to provide financial incentives to the development community in order to help the projects get built. Because the municipality is borrowing the money, it receives discounted rates on bonds from financial lenders. The money is then used to fund improvements to the project site, which can range from land acquisition to infrastructure improvements.

The municipality realizes that the development will increase its tax base over the life of the project. A percentage of the increase in tax revenue collected within the district is then used to pay off the bonds used to finance the improvements. In Prince George’s County, tax increment financing is typically, if not always, used for specific project sites rather than districts, so the percentage of the increase in tax revenue from each particular project is used to pay its bonds.

Although this method of financing appears to some as a solution to all of Route 1’s problems, too much tax increment financing can be risky for a municipality or county to undertake. Some issues with the financing methodology include the over-allocation of future tax revenues and the unpredictability of future tax revenues. All things aside, if used correctly these partnerships can have positive economic impacts on entire communities.

REMINDER: Cafritz Property Workshops This Week

The fifth Cafritz Property meetings will be held this SATURDAY (Sept. 15, 10am-noon) and TUESDAY (Sept. 18, 7pm-9pm) at RIVERDALE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (5006 Riverdale Rd, Riverdale MD).

Both identical workshops will present a concept plan for the mixed use development. The concept plans are to be based on design principles culled from previous workshops. There will be a new format without the familiar topic stations: A 20 minute presentation will precede a slated hour for open discussion.

See our previous posts on the Cafritz Property.

Solar House Celebration Today

LEAFHouseToday, Tuesday Sept. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 12 noon, the University of Maryland’s Solar Decathlon Team will celebrate the completion of construction of LEAFHouse, its entry for this year’s international solar house competition on the National Mall in Washington. The event will be held in the parking lot adjacent to the construction site, east of the Architecture Building, and will feature a video tour of the house, readings from first year book The Ravaging Tide by Mike Tidwell, and free ice cream. In attendance for the LEAFHouse Celebration will be President Mote, as well as members of the Maryland Senate.

LEAFHouse will soon after be packed up and shipped to the Mall for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, which runs October 12-20 and features twenty teams from around the world. The houses these teams have built over the past two years will then be judged on ten contests, ranging from architecture and engineering to market viability and the ability to power an electric car.

Maryland’s entry draws its name, as well as inspiration from the leaf, which the team views as nature’s ultimate solar panel. LEAF also stands for “Leading Everyone to an Abundant Future,” and LEAFHouse is meant to be an attractive, efficient demonstration of solar power as an integral part of a sustainable future, particularly here in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Sam is the LEAFHouse Outreach and Fundraising Student Team Leader

A Visit to East Campus

With the public input process well under way, more and more information is being released about the East Campus project.

On a mild weekday afternoon this past August, I decided to take some pictures to capture “before” images to contrast with the rough renderings that Foulger-Pratt released last spring to the general public. I parked my car in Lot OO by the Shuttle-UM bus depot and walked down currently existing Greenhouse Road where it intersects Campus Drive. From there I walked to the intersection of Route 1/Baltimore Ave and Paint Branch Parkway where a planned 12-story hotel would anchor the new development and provide a gateway to the East Campus for those traveling southbound on Route 1. The current view of this corner includes the campus mail facility.

Compare that to this image from the conceptual drawings released by Foulger-Pratt/Argo Investment of the same location.

Hotel conceptual drawing

Click read more for more before and after comparisons.
Continue reading A Visit to East Campus