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Thanks for your interest in Rethink College Park! Our community project is no longer updating this website, but we post updates on our Facebook page and Twitter account. Please follow us on these services to stay updated. This website will remain archived online as a community resource.

Update: Due to security problems with our old theme, we have switched the look to a new default theme. However, all the content remains available.

Site Maintenance

Tonight we completed some behind-the-scenes updates to Rethink College Park, including an update to the blog software. In addition to the upgrade, with the help from former contributor Eric Fidler and friend of the site Pat O’Brien (Thank you!), we were able to resurrect all of the comments lost to a database error in October 2008. So all comments from July 2006 to the present are now working properly — some 1,732 in all.

We also deleted some spam “subscriber” accounts, so if you notice your usual login for commenting isn’t working you’ll have to sign up again. Our apologies.

To get more involved in the website contact Clay Gump at clay.gump at gmail.com. The group recently resumed regular meetings in College Park, and we are looking for new contributors.

Housing Proposed for Property Adjacent Lot 1

After months of rumors, some information has turned up regarding a project on the so-called Poole Property, a tract of vacant land across Mowatt Lane from the Architecture Building, across from Lot 1. A source at the University United Methodist church reports the church is considering a land swap to “straighten out the property line,” and we found this tidbit from a College Heights Estate Association meeting:

HANOVER CONSTRUCTION CO: Aaron Adler and Adam Harbin, representatives of the Hanover Company of Houston, Texas, briefed the Board on their plans to construct luxury apartments in College Park. The development will be on the Poole Property which is located on the southwest corner of Campus and Mowat Drives. The developers propose 5-10,000 sq. ft. of retail space, a roof top pool, and a 5-7,000 sq. ft. club house. There will be 1.4 to 1.5 parking spaced per residential unit. The company will construct approximately 250 unit, each 850 sq. ft. 70% will be 1 bedroom, and 30% will be 2 bedrooms with rents proposed at $1,200. Projections are not set in stone for any of these numbers. The projected tenants are graduate students, young
professions, visiting professors, and empty nesters. Aaron and Adam showed the board members samples of their prior apartment projects across the country. Hanover has received favorable comments from Doug Duncan of UMCP. The property will need to be re-zoned. Fall 2012 is the projected date for construction completion. Hanover will keep CHEA apprised of progress.

The Hanover Company‘s portfolio includes projects in Baltimore and Towson, Maryland. Does anyone know more about this project?

East Campus Final Design Unveiled

Yesterday, a veritable who’s who of College Park civic life gathered to take a look at the final plans for the East Campus project.

Although a representative from the project architects Street Sense admitted the plans were “still changing as we speak,” dozens of formal MNCPPC “approvals” drawings were scattered about the room, and the team seemed on track for a July submission to the Detailed Site Plan review process.

Studying the Traffic NumbersUniversity officials, student leaders and politicians at the local, county, and state level were on hand perusing the plans. Dour community residents huddled around the traffic table, scouring the numbers presented and taking every last copy of traffic handouts. In the center of it all was Doug Duncan, holding court at a table in the center of the room. Notably absent were College Park Mayor Steve Brayman or Council Member Bob Catlin, although we assume both have already seen some form of the plans presented.

As for the design, reviews were mixed. Many expressed frustration that the designs were too conservative and bland. The University’s Architectural Review Board, which oversees the design of all campus buildings, have been working overtime to finalize the plans with Foulger Pratt and their consultants. However, architecture is an art not a science: one undergraduate regarded the drawings with concern, “I can’t see the campus look here at all,” he quipped, complaining of its contemporary flavor. A theater building and Birchmere Theater were among the most liked, although one well-informed community member acidly quipped about Duncan’s coup from Alexandria that he’d “believe it when I see it.”

The site plan overall held no surprises. The housing had been scaled back from 2,000 units to 1,508, and the phase 2 footprint was significantly smaller than previously discussed. Street connections to Old Town were built, although with bollards clearly marked on the plans. The retail, office, and hotel sizes were similar to earlier plans, and a representative from the architects reported the site continued to have strong interest from potential stores.

When the project enters the public review process, the city, planning board, and county council will weigh in. The required public funding for the parking will be a major issue, and has been little discussed in public thus far.

We’ve requested electronic copies of the submitted documents, which we’ll add here when we get them. For now, here are some cameraphone photos.

This hotel will stand at the corner of Route 1 and Paint Branch Parkway. The design has become a good deal more traditional since earlier renderings.

East Campus Rendering

This image shows residential buildings above retail on Route 1, with the office building to the far right.

East Campus Rendering

This view north on Route 1 shows the office building. Richie Coliseum is shown on the right.

East Campus Rendering

Here is the final overall project massing:

East Campus Massing

Update, 7/14: Here are some higher quality versions we were provided.

“View below is the proposed hotel at Rt. 1 and Paint Branch Parkway (where the Campus Mail facility currently stands).”

East Campus Rendering

“View below is the proposed office complex at Rt. 1 and Rossborough Lane (where the University Police station currently is.) This view is looking North on Rt. 1, with Ritchie Coliseum on the right-hand side of the image.”

Artists' Renderings for East Campus

“View below is the proposed mixed use along Rt. 1 between Paint Branch Parkway (outside the image to the LEFT), and Rossborough Lane (outside the image to the right). This view would be if you are heading South on Rt. 1. You can see the top of the proposed office complex at the far right of the image. You can also see where there is a proposed new road accessing East Campus. That looks to be about where the Harrison Laboratory is now on Rt. 1.”

Artists' Renderings for East Campus

East Campus Design Presentation Thursday

This Thursday FP/Argo will present images and renderings of where the East Campus project stands at a meeting this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Maryland Golf Course. We were told by a member of the development team they hope to file a Detailed Site Plan with the County in July.

This meeting is an opportunity for the public to review the plans before they enter the formal county approval process.

> East Campus Open House, Thursday, June 19th, UMCP Golf Course, 7:30 PM

Purple Line Public Meetings

The MTA has released a schedule of public meetings this month: “These meetings will include updated information from the Open Houses held this past winter and will be the last round of large public meetings before the Alternatives Analysis/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (AA/DEIS) is released this fall.”

The College Park meeting is this Thursday, May 8th at 5 p.m. at the City Hall.

See the project website for the full schedule, including meetings in Bethesda, Silver Spring, Landover Hills, and Langley Park.

Commute Green on Earth Day and Everyday

Did you know you can purchase a bundle of one-day parking permits to park on campus, get discounted Metro cards, or even rent a Zipcar on campus?

Many of our readers commute to the UMD campus, and others are effected by the choices made by those who work or study here. To the end of encouraging transit and minimizing the number of cars on campus, the Department of Transportation Services has circulated a list of programs and services that encourage “green” commutes.

Continue reading Commute Green on Earth Day and Everyday

Latest Purple Line Videos, Presentation

Last week the Maryland Transit Administration held the latest information session about the Purple Line, revealing updated results of their work estimating the cost and proposed alignments through campus. We did not attend, but have obtained a copy of the presentation (PDF) and videos presented MTA consultants at the meeting. The Diamondback covered the event and even ran an interview with Joel Oppenheimer, the man who has become the public face of the engineering team at these meetings.

The videos show light rail vehicles in the context of campus along the proposed Campus Drive alignment.

Stamp Student Union

Hornbake Plaza

> See the MTA April 9 Presentation

Thanks to Laura Moore for sharing these materials

Diamondback: Campus Drive is Best for Purple Line

Purple Line 5

In a long-planned editorial today, the Diamondback declared the “debate should be over” when it comes to the Purple Line location on campus. In their view, the “people have spoken” in support of the Campus Drive alignment, which “would be the most accessible for commuters, least disruptive for students in dorms and most easily incorporated into the overall layout of the campus.” They argue the Campus Drive alignment would reduce the University’s “heavy reliance” on private automobiles and advance the institution’s stated environmental goals. The editorial critiques the administration’s handling of the debate and has kind things to say about this website.

The editorial also points out University leaders and community members have a stake in the next transportation funding bill Congress will take up later in this congressional session. The re-authorization of the old bill (called “SAFETEA-LU”) will set funding levels and policies for much-needed transit projects like the Purple Line across the nation. While state planners have said they’ll apply for funding before this new law takes effect, it is certainly possible additional delays mean the project would be considered under new rules.

> Diamondback Staff Editorial: “The People’s Line

What’s Happening?

For starters, you may have noticed less posting on RCP lately. With one co-founder already away from College Park for a year and the other preparing to graduate, RCP is in need of fresh blood. We’ll be organizing a strategic meeting to bring together our supporters to plan for the future of the site soon, if you are interested in contributing please drop us a line. Recently a community member wrote to ask why we hadn’t written more, but demurred from contributing saying he wasn’t a “writer.” Before blogging, neither were many of our contributors!

What’s new around town? Councilmember Catlin was kind enough to post a short summary as a comment recently. To add to his comments, although rumors have been circulating about the Mazza Grandmarc Graduate Apartments, the developer personally (and vigorously) assured us construction was moving forward and they planned to break ground this year, hopefully late summer or fall.

Today’s Diamondback has two stories of note: a short summary of changes to the 517-bed addition to the University View being planned, and an article describing the over $620 million backlog of on-campus maintenance.

While we have a few posts planned, expect fewer stories until the future of the site is planned in more detail.