“No one really knows when or even if NOAA will be able to move in”

That was Kurt Stout, SVP with Grubb & Ellis’ Government Services Group talking to GlobeSt.com about National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) moving from its current home in Suitland, MD to UMD’s M-Square Research Park. Evidently things are so up in the air that NOAA went ahead and extended its lease at its current 137,000 square-foot facility for at least another few years.

The primary developer Opus East is suing the General Services Administration and has also gone bankrupt in the process. This leaves the NOAA building 80% complete on the outside and 50% on the inside.  The GSA is working to complete the structure however we do not have a completion date. Check out a post we did on the project’s green features over three years ago.
The difficulty of getting this project completed once again proves a favorite saying of Maryland Alum Kermit the Frog: “It ain’t easy being green.”
See below the fold for images of both sites.

Continue reading “No one really knows when or even if NOAA will be able to move in”

County to City: “It’s your Fault”

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Sounds like the County official Andre’ Issayans, deputy director of the county Department of Public Works and Transportation, has decided to just blame the City for the safety problems with the Paint Branch Crossing. (The Diamondback)

Continue reading County to City: “It’s your Fault”

M-Square Top Choice for Biotech Cluster

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East Campus? Stalled. Purple Line? Still Waiting. Maryland Football? Don’t ask. Here at RTCP we could use a little good news. Well we got some from Washington Business Journal. It looks like M-Square was selected as the top choice in Prince George’s for a new cluster of biotech startups. The proposal calls for two, five story buildings of 105,000 square-feet each right smack next to the metro station.

For years, Prince George’s County has been relegated to throwing farewell parties for its most promising biotech startups as they pack up and move to neighboring Montgomery County for more readily available lab space.

Continue reading M-Square Top Choice for Biotech Cluster

Seeing the Forest for the Trees (They’re just trees)

hillock-treehouseIn response to Robert McCartney’s Op-Ed yesterday in the Washington Post, I decided to throw together the following as I continue to ruminate over the massive amount of debate surrounding the proposed development (also see savethehillock.com) of 9 acres of the 22 acres “Wooded Hillock” behind the Comcast Center:

As an environmentalist and former land conservationist, I mourn the proposed loss of trees as much as the next person. Also, I’m usually less than inclined to side with the University on most issues related to development in College Park. These two things being said, I continue to see no better alternative than the Wooded Hillock for the relocation of facilities on East Campus. I don’t understand how McCartney can say UMD’s examination of alternative sites for these facilities was an “apparently insufficient study”. Somehow studies always seem to be insufficient if the conclusions they reach aren’t in accordance with your own.

Continue reading Seeing the Forest for the Trees (They’re just trees)

Washington Post Columnist discusses Hillock and East Campus

Op-Ed piece from the Post on Sunday discussing the Hillock site.

The university should look again. I’m willing to raze trees when necessary for the sake of smart growth, such as to build the light rail Purple Line linking College Park to Bethesda. But this plan contradicts the university’s numerous, solemn pledges to become a national leader in protecting the environment.

“You can’t tout sustainability and then, behind closed doors, ignore it,” said Joanna Calabrese, a senior from Columbia who is director of environmental affairs for the Student Government Association.

Discussing East Campus

Although the school remains committed to the project in the long run, the delay is a setback. The plan to erect a lively town center with a mix of shops and student housing is designed to help lure good students and faculty, and to be central to President C.D. Mote Jr.’s legacy.

BREAKING NEWS: East Campus Developer FP/Argo is Out

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On Friday the University announced the shocking news that they have ended the relationship with the primary developer for the East Campus project Folger-Pratt/Argo.

This is a considerable setback for the 38-acre project that was billed as the catalyst for a revitalized route 1 and College Park.

Despite best efforts, the current economic downturn and difficult financial and real estate markets preclude an East Campus development on the schedule and scale the parties envisioned.

Continue reading BREAKING NEWS: East Campus Developer FP/Argo is Out

Public Forum on Mixed Use Zones

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Our newly elected District 4 councilman Marcus Afzali is passing on this information for our readers. Thanks Marcus for sending it!

The Prince George’s County Council is considering legislation dealing with a new Mixed Use Zone that will be available in designated Urban Centers and Corridor Nodes. I strongly encourage those interested in zoning issues to come out to a public forum on the issue at Prince George’s Community College, Rennie Forum, Largo, Maryland 20774 this Saturday, November 14, from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Please view the attached flyer for more information. I believe North College Park citizens will probably have the most interest in what is going to be discussed. If anyone needs a ride to this meeting feel free to contact me at 240-391-8241.

-College Park Councilman Elect, District 4
Marcus Afzali

John Frece, Director of EPA’s Smart Growth Division Coming to Campus

smartgrowthbookAccording to the 1000 Friends of Maryland, John Frece, former Associated Director of UMD’s National Center for Smart Growth and current Director of EPA’s Smart Growth Division is coming to McKeldin Library Tuesday at 4:30. He’ll be talking about his recent book: Sprawl and Politics, “a political history of the origin, enactment, and implementation of Maryland’s well-known Smart Growth and Neighborhood Conservation initiative.”

Frece worked for several years on the staff of former Maryland Governor Parris  Glendening, the so called founder of Maryland Smart Growth, where Frece was a coordinator, adviser and chief spokesman for Maryland’s Smart Growth initiative. He also was a reporter for many years for the Baltimore Sun. I’ve seen him speak before and he has a lot of fascinating inside information and background on MD Smart Growth. Should be an interesting discussion especially given the recent uptick in debate over efficacy of the program.

Also, check out commentary by Glendening and current secretary of planning Richard Hall in Sunday”s Washington Post regarding that controversial Post article last week.

Need More Bicycle Parking?

As pointed out in a previous post development close to campus could use more bicycle parking and less vehicle parking. I also like the bike “escalator” for getting in and out of the subway. That is a much better solution than having to use the elevators on Metro.

Maybe Japan has the ultimate solution!

It’s not often something stops you in your bike tracks. But a spectacular “bike tree” invention from Japan bowled me over when I was in Tokyo a couple of weeks ago.

Fed up with bicycles locked to railings, piled on top of each other, blocking doorways and roads, a local council in the city installed the mechanical masterpiece. It’s basically an automatic storage system for cycles and operates with computer tagging of bikes and either storage in a building or a basement structure.

Glorious: Mazza Grandmarc Begins Leasing for Fall 2010

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When I saw it, I could hardly believe my eyes.  Seven links down on a basic Google search for “Mazza Granmarc” there it was staring back at me from across cyberspace: the leasing website for the first purely private student housing project to open in College Park in five years. It’ll be the only (private) dedicated graduate student housing project of its kind in the city and one of the few economic development projects College Park was able to capitalize on during the real estate boom. That’s thanks in part to Rethink College Park’s tireless advocacy for it and our productive friendship with the Graduate Student Government. It was a fight that took us from City Hall, to Annapolis, and then on to Upper Marlboro.

No the project isn’t perfect. It’s about a mile and a half from campus and, as we pointed out in June 2007, it includes a whooping 637 parking spaces for a 630 bed (231-unit) complex. The project will have a 8 foot wide pedestrian/bike connection to the Paint Branch Trail to its rear and frequent Shuttle-UM service to campus. There will also be a retail section that will front Route 1, but we are unsure of the timing on that. At $43 million, we still believe Mazza was the right choice. It brings decent, affordable housing to a forgotten segment of UMD’s student population and puts them much closer to the University than they would have been otherwise… and in a transit/bike-friendly complex to boot.

Our guess is that a good bit of the garage will be empty and the bike parking will be inadequate. The latter issue is a problem we’ve noticed next to the University View.  We’ll dive more into these two issues in short order.