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.
According to this Washington Post article the economy is forcing the University to break this project into smaller sections.
University spokesman Millree Williams said economic shifts compelled the school to break the project into smaller pieces.
“What we’re trying to do now is find a way to get the development done in chunks, and then finance the chunks,” he said.
Plans are already in place to relocate the facilities currently on the site to other locations on campus.
Not surprisingly the project has been shoved to the back burner since the economic downtown however as recently as July the hope from University officials was still for the project to break ground within 18 months.
In 2007 the prospects for a “Silver Spring” like development for College Park seemed on the fast track. Not only did the University bring on Doug Duncan to spearhead the effort but developer of downtown Silver Spring Folger-Pratt was chosen for the project. Now with both Duncan and FP/Argo gone the future of having the cohesive development College Park so desperately needs is in doubt.
It is not all doom and gloom however. According to the Diamondback Vice President for Administrative Affairs Ann Wylie is still optimistic.
The decision to break ties was a long time coming, Wylie said, and a is “relief” because now the university can begin on the project slowly, without waiting till the market recovers. The university might partner with FP-Argo on some smaller parts of the project.