News & Notes: April 2012 Edition

Here’s the latest roundup from the Business Beat newsletter, published every two months by the City of College Park.

College Park Earth Day

Upcoming Events:

College Park Earth Day Project & Music Festival
A two-day event featuring a volunteer opportunity, live music, a film, and festival is taking place on April 21 and 22. The volunteer opportunity is on Saturday, April 21 at the Cherry Hill Road Community Park, while the remaining events will be held at Duvall Field. For more information, visit their website.

Maryland Day
An excellent opportunity to explore the University of Maryland Campus with over 450 free activities and events, including live performances, educational seminars, and climbing walls. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information can be found here.

College Park Day
Save the Date !  College Park Day 2012 will be on Saturday, October 27. If you’re interested in joining the planning committee, email cpdayevent at gmail.com for more information.

General Announcements:

College Park Farmers’ Markets:
The City Hall Farmers’ Market is now open on Sunday mornings, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features returning farmer Miller Farms, delicious eats from Bill’s Backyard Barbeque, and several other vendors. More information about the City Hall Farmers’ Market can be found here.

The College Park Farmers’ Market at Wells Ice Rink/Linson Swimming Poll is currently closed for the season but will return on Saturdays in May.

College Park Community Library:
The College Park Community Library is now open in one of the basement rooms at the College Park Church of the Nazarene, at 9704 Rhode Island Ave. in Hollywood. At this point, the library has collected over 5,000 books and continues to expand through donations. If anyone is interested in volunteering or donate books please contact cpcomlibary at gmail.com. More information about the library can be found on their blog.

April 2012 Business Activity

New Businesses:

ChiDogO’s (Varisty apartments, ground floor retail)
Owner is a Chicago native and UMD graduate.  Serves “Chicago style fare” (Vienna Beef Dogs, Italian Beef sandwiches, etc)
– Blue Tech Cleaners (corner of Rhode Island Ave & Edgewood Rd)
– Six Star Dry Cleaning (Rt, 1, south of Edgewood Rd – replaces Fast Cash Leasing)

Business Closings:

Austin Grill Express (Varsity apartments, ground floor retail)
We hardly knew ye … open & shut down in less than three four months ! Covered by Patch
– Pebbles Wellness (Rt. 1, south of Berwyn Rd)
– Fast Cash Leasing (Rt, 1, south of Edgewood Rd)

Coming Soon:

Downtown:

– Big Play Sports Grill
Now expected to open in the next few weeks (late April) at the former location of Vito’s Pizzeria.  Operated by a UMD graduate; will be strongly focused on the campus sports scene with memorabilia from former standout athletes on the walls.

– District Dumplings
Scheduled to open in May/June time frame.  Will offer a menu mostly devoted to the Asian delicacy.

Note that these two are both going into Terrapin Station, which has seen a lot of
business turnover over the years.

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill
Lease signed: former location of California Tortilla on Rt. 1.  East coast chain, Mexican grill that uses fresh, organic ingredients, and has vegetarian, low carb & low fat options.  There’s already locations in DC, Clarendon & Pentagon City.

– Terrapin Turf
Lease signed: former location of Santa Fe Cafe, still in the process of obtaining a liquor license.  The operator ran Saloun earlier, a bar featuring jazz, blues, and soul music, in Georgetown for many years until it closed in late 2011.  Live music along the lines of Saloun is expected to continue at Terrapin Turf.  Previously covered in Patch and the Diamondback.

More info about several of these businesses can be found in this Diamondback article.

Lower Midtown:

Three additional businesses are listed as “Coming Soon” and will be ground level retail in the Varsity apartments.

The Frame Mender
Expected to open later this month. Offering over 35 years of eyeglass repair experience; moving from their current Berwyn Heights location.  They also have two other locations in Rockville and downtown DC.

– Yo Love Frozen Yogurt
Expected to open later this month.

Roti Mediterranean Grill
Expected to open in August.  Fast casual chain, offering Mediterranean fare.

Going into Campus Village:
– Pho D’Lite:
Now expected to open in May, a new venture from the owners of Hanami Japanese Restaurant.  Described as “a unique Asian fusion concept that provides healthy options focused on Vietnamese soup and Southeast Asian delicacies”.

Sharing the same location as Rita’s Italian Ice (8900 Baltimore Ave):
– Newaabsaab Kabobs:
Expected opening in August.

Hollywood:
Two new businesses with signed leases — no announced opening dates yet.

– Johnny’s Carry Out:
Going into Hollywood Shopping Center (by MOM’s & REI).

– Pollo a La Brasa:
Going into Hollywood Square (9925 Rhode Island Ave).  Sounds very promising, especially if they could offer anything approaching the awesomeness over at Sardi’s in Beltsville.

Uptown:
– Chipotle:
New location expected to open in the April/May time frame.  This is just north of the Beltway & Rt. 1 interchange by the Buffalo Wild Wings & Potbelly, in the strip of businesses next to the IKEA.

News & Notes: Feb. Business Beat Revisited

CP Sweetgreen

For those who are interested in local business news, there’s a treasure trove of information published every two months by the City of College Park in its bi-monthly Business Beat newsletter.  Few probably take the time to read through through these PDF files, and we think it deserves a full post with relevant links to provide additional context.  Though it’s a bit on the tardy side — this newsletter came out on Feb. 16th — here’s a full breakdown of the latest business activity.

 

New Businesses:
– Hookah Cafe (next to Krazi Kebob on Lehigh Rd.)
– Sakurah Seafood Buffet (by AMF Bowling on Rt. 1, just south of 193)
Sweet Green (University View II, ground floor retail)
Auntie Anne’s Pretzels (UMD Stamp Student Food Court)
Fox’s Pizza Den (former location of Alarios Pizza, by College Park Diner on Rt. 1)

Business Closings:

– Ke’ Chic Boutique (Lehigh Rd. & Yale Ave.) – covered in Patch.
– Punch Copy (corner of Rt. 1 & Calvert)
– The Tech Spot (Rt 1, close to Big Planet Comics)

Coming Soon:

Downtown:

– Big Play Sports Grill
Once expected to open last fall, now scheduled to open in late March; former location of Vito’s Pizzeria.  Operated by a UMD graduate; will be strongly focused on the campus sports scene with memorabilia from former standout athletes adorning the walls.

– District Dumplings
Scheduled to open in May.

Note that these two are both going into Terrapin Station, which has been somewhat of a revolving door for businesses in the past.

Continue reading News & Notes: Feb. Business Beat Revisited

College Park Business Beat – February

The Business Beat is a bi-monthly newsletter prepared by the City of College Park Planning, Community and Economic Development Department covering local business news including openings, closings, expansions, leases signed, and other information of interest. This edition features news on the upcoming Real Estate Roundtable, Lime Fresh, Pho D’Lite, Terrapin Turf, and many other items. To subscribe, please contact Michael Stiefvater at (240) 487-3543 or mstiefvater@collegeparkmd.gov.

College Park Business Beat – December

fishnet.jpgThe Business Beat is a bi-monthly newsletter prepared by the City of College Park Planning, Community and Economic Development Department covering local business news including openings, closings, expansions, leases signed, and other information of interest to College Park businesses. This edition features news on Pho Thom, Fishnet, California Tortilla, and Naked Pizza. To subscribe, please feel free to contact Michael Stiefvater at (240) 487-3543 or mstiefvater@collegeparkmd.gov.

Cafritz development informational meeting – Tuesday Nov 1

An informational meeting on the proposed development at the 36-acre Cafritz property will take place Tuesday, November 1 at the College Park City Hall (4500 Knox Road). As most readers are aware, the Cafritz property is located adjacent to Route 1, immediately south of College Park and east of University Park. The meeting will include a presentation on the latest development plans from the Cafritz developers and provide an opportunity for a public Q&A.

wholefoods

The updated site plan (above), including a commitment from Whole Foods, has sparked discussion and debate throughout the region and in surrounding areas including the Calvert Hills neighborhood of College Park as well as the cities of University Park and Riverdale Park. While the prospect of a Whole Foods has garnered lots of positive attention, the most recent site plan resembles something similar to a 1970s suburban strip mall and leaves lots of questions about what “Future Development” will look like. This meeting will provide an excellent opportunity for residents to hear directly from the development team and weigh in on the conversation. Hope to see you there!

College Park Business Beat – October

The Business Beat is a bi-monthly newsletter prepared by the City of College Park Planning, Community and Economic Development Department covering local business news including openings, closings, expansions, leases signed, and other information of interest to College Park businesses. This edition features news on Big Play Sports Grill, Fishnet, and College Park Day. To subscribe, please feel free to contact Michael Stiefvater at (240) 487-3543 or mstiefvater@collegeparkmd.gov.

 

 

Eminent Domain of #1 Liquor in Question

#1 Liquor at University View

With the city council election only a few months away, and an increasing number of residents are voicing their opposition, the council may soon vote on a motion that will permanently put a stop to the negotiation to purchase #1 Liquor: College Park’s most infamous homestead holdout. The small parcel (8200 Baltimore Avenue) is sandwiched in between University View and the Varsity high rises, has been a point of contention for the council for years. In December 2009, the City Council authorized the City Manager to negotiate the acquisition of the property and turn it into a “pocket park” for general public use. The purchase would be funded by College Park’s allocation of the state’s localside Program Open Space (POS) money.

City council members who supported the motion in 2009, argued that the property was “an eyesore.” They also said that the purchase would be an opportunity “to improve that portion of Route 1 corridor“. The 2009 resolution allows the City to pursue the acquisition using all “actions necessary to proceed with condemnation if negotiations are not successful.” This meant eminent domain, or compulsory purchase by the government against the will of the landowner, was on the table if the store owner refused to make a deal.

However, opposition to the eminent domain option from the residents in recent days have forced some council members to soften or even reverse their support. One of these council members is Patrick Wojahn (Dist 1), who has come under fierce scrutiny for his original support for eminent domain from a small but vocal group of residents in his north College Park constituency.

I was on the fence initially about eminent domain, and after hearing what residents have had to say, I oppose it.” -wrote Mr. Wojahn in an email to his north College Park newsgroup.

However, Mr. Wojahn’s reversal on eminent domain option did not completely please the group of residents; they want the Council to stop negotiation with the #1 Liquor owner altogether.

The City should stop going after this particular business.  You [Mr. Wojahn] and Mr. Catlin keep saying the City should continue because the owner is still willing to negotiate [to sell]” – charged one resident.

I have not seen anyone on the council move to amend this item be removed” – continued the resident.

During the recent budget worksession, this topic was brought up and the City Manager (Mr. Nagro) said the only way to stop the negotiation would be for the Mayor and Council to do another vote to “unauthorize” it.

Mr. Wojahn’s counterpart in District 1, Councilmember Nagle, who has been a vocal opponent to the #1 Liquor purchase from the beginning,  has recently done just that. She has asked the city to unauthorize the City Manager from pursuing any further negotiations to obtain the property (arms-length or otherwise). The council will vote on that motion in next Tuesday’s (May 24) regular council session.

In the mean time, the debate on the property deal is intensifying. Most opponents to the idea of acquiring the property argue that “uglinesss” should never be the reason for purchasing the property.

.. if you want to get rid of it, why don’t you get rid of town hall or that vacant building that is an eyesore between Burger King and Taco Bell (on Rt. 1).” – said one long time residents.

If we are looking to make the city look good, there is nothing on US 1, in my opinion, from the IKEA corridor on down except the University of Maryland that looks attractive to anyone wanting to relocate to the city.” – continued the resident.

Council member Robert Catlin (Dist 2), who sponsored the 2009 motion disagrees. Catlin thinks location, and not the look, should be a major factor why the City should buy the property.

(The location of the property) is great because of the large population that will be living or passing through there.  It can be a place for people to buy food from the adjacent food establishments and enjoy eating outside or interact with people (like Dupont Circle). ” – said Mr. Catlin.

In addition to location, Mr. Catlin argues that  the property would make for a good bus superstop location, as it the southernmost point that southbound buses can stop to pick up passengers. He also points out that the current business owner is not the same business owner that was there when University View was built.

The current liquor store owner is free to lease space elsewhere in College Park. ” – he argued.

In response to the argument that the City will be losing precious tax dollars from a legitimate business, Mr Catlin said: “The $1,500 in revenue derived from the store is insignificant in the city’s budget, especially when considering that the redevelopment here generates hundreds of times more revenue than was generated here before redevelopment.

What could we buy [with POS money], only church property?” – asks Mr. Catlin.

Some residents want the City to spend the fund to purchase the property in the design and rehabilitation of Duvall Field project in north College Park. The City originally received $300K as part of State’s Program Open Space (POS) fund, however it could not use the money due to a related fund from a Greenbelt south core development project.

Others have a different perspective on how the purchase should be viewed,

Program Open Space is neither a highway beautification fund nor a blight reduction tool. The park idea is a farce. A fraction of an acre ‘pocket park’ on the #1 Liquor site will not meet the city’s conservation or public recreation goals, especially in light of the fact that the 5-acre North Gate Park (another POS project) is about to open just to the south.” – said the Rethink College Park editor David Daddio.

Daddio thinks the North Gate Park parcel would make an excellent location for a bus super stop for the emerging North Gate District.

Indeed POS funds could be used for the purchase; but let’s not pretend that there is a park deficit in the city.” – said Daddio.

Though it is unclear at this moment how the Council will vote next week, intense lobbying by the opposing residents may sway the minds of the council members. If there is a tie, Mayor Fellows will cast his vote to break the tie. Mr. Fellows who supported the original 2009 motion is also undecided.

We have not established what that cost to the City might be.  I do understand the concerns of a significant number of residents, and they are a factor in my consideration. ” – said Mr. Fellows.

In the mean time, opponents to the purchase plan are hoping that the upcoming November election could swing the Council decision next week.

Mazza Grandmarc NOW OPEN

The long awaited opening of the Mazza Grandmarc took place today as the first graduate students were allowed to move in.  The primary move in date for non graduate students will be August 22nd.  I spoke with the on site manager who told me the Mazza is now around 45% full (it was under 10% full when rethink college park visited there a few months back).  A little over 60 people will be moving in today which is a around 10% of the total capacity for the apartment complex (around 630 beds).   Two aspects about the Mazza that excite me the most are that it is connected to the Paint Branch Bike Trail system which leads to the University of Maryland campus and that it has its own UMD DOTS bus route.  Hopefully students will take advantage of these ecological friendly options when deciding how to get to campus which would help minimize the traffic impact that the Mazza will create.

I won’t write too much about the Mazza Grandmarc as there is already a long history of articles on it on this site, but the Mazza property owners are still trying to buy the properties directly on Route One in front of the apartment complex so they can build decent retail establishments there.  Hopefully the opening of the Mazza today is just the start of a redevelopment process that will both beautify a section of Route One and lead to more high quality dining and shopping options in College Park.  Despite the fact that the Mazza is finally opening today this project is still a work in progress in terms of its full potential.

Best Buy & The Original Ledo’s Opening Soon

A local establishment and a powerhouse national chain are both moving into College Park over the next month with the long anticipated opening of the original Ledo’s Pizza in about two weeks and Best Buy slated to open in the College Park Market Place in early September.  I think both will help College Park in different ways.  The Original Ledo’s will give downtown College Park a destination location at last and will hopefully help increase the use of the downtown parking garage.  Best Buy will be taking the place of the closed down “Linens and Things” and hopefully will add a nice little boost to our city tax revenue.

These two new store openings remind me of the soon to be voted on College Park City Council Strategic Plan. One of the action items in this plan is to “Create a list of 10 most desired retail/restaurant businesses and actively pursue encouraging them to locate in College Park.”  So what retail/restaurant businesses locations do you think College Park should be pursuing?  What type of retail/restaurant businesses would help turn College Park into the vibrant college town we all know we can and should be?  Feel free to list one location or ten and feel free to say something general (a coffee house) or specific (Trader Joe’s).  You can list one retail/restaurant business or ten – but also think about WHERE you think you’d like to see such a business open.

Next College Park Tour Event June 23rd

The next “Experience College Park Tour” event will be Wednesday June 23rd at 7pm at Plato’s Diner.  Our featured guest this time will be the State Senator  for the 21st District Jim Rosapepe. This event is open for anyone who lives, works, or plays in College Park and would like to get together to discuss local issues or just enjoy the great desserts offered up at Plato’s.

RSVP via Facebook HERE