After significant digging this is the information we have come up with:
The Mazza Grandmarc is a proposed four to five story 231-unit (630 bedroom) student housing project (here) that received preliminary approval in November 2004 and final approval from the PG County Planning Commission in May 2006. It would have been exclusively reserved for UMD graduate students with undergrads filling any vacant beds. County Councilman Dernoga (in who’s district the project would reside) exercised his right (in late May 2006) to have the project reviewed before the County Council and as yet the case has gone unheard. The project would be located in North College Park, provide a bike path to the Paint Branch Trail, convey 6.5 acres of parkland to the county, and would contract with Shuttle UM to bring students to the university. It also contains retail that fronts Route 1.
Mr. Dernoga is barred by a county rule from talking with us, since he may eventually hear/vote on the case. From what we can surmise, Mr. Dernoga disagrees that the developer should be eligible for a $1.7 million fee waiver ($7,000 per unit) that student housing within
3 1.5 miles of the university is legally eligible for. The principle behind the impact fee waiver is that since student housing (for university students) doesn’t burden the local public school system (few student have children), student renters shouldn’t have to foot the bill for local public school construction. This fee waiver is apparently essential for the financing of the project.
The City of College Park, the North College Park Citizens Association, and the university are all in support of the project. As we’ve reported in the past, UMD lags far behind its peer institutions in terms of graduate housing and the City of College Park has had real difficultly in holding on to graduate students. UMD maintains a private partnership with Southern Management Company that guarantees 476 units (740 bedrooms) in Graduate Gardens and Graduate Hills for Graduate students and their families. While the Mazza Grandmarc project will not be “University-Provided Housing” it will nearly double the amount of beds guaranteed to UMD grad students.
The following is from an extensive report that examines the dearth of guaranteed graduate student housing in College Park:
Rarely will we take a strong editorial stance on a project. In this instance we must: Any further delay of this project by the County Council is absolutely unacceptable and completely at odds with College Park’s aspirations to be a vibrant, dynamic city.
Read the Mazza Grandmarc: