Since developer Foulger-Pratt pulled out of plans for the University of Maryland’s East Campus Development project last fall, the entire endeavor has been thrown into uncertainty. The university has reconsidered the project’s design, the timeline, and even toyed with the idea of postponing or abandoning the plan. But among the growing uncertainty, there is something else: an opportunity.
The University announced today that they plan to purchase the abandoned Washington Post site for $12 Million with the intention to use the site to house facilities currently on the East Campus site. This is a clear victory for those who were opposed to using the Wooded Hillock site for relocation as was previously recommended.
The Washington Post site is 18.5 acres with 315,000 square feet of space available. A good portion of the indoor space is 2 1/2 stories tall and could be converted to seperate floors if needed.
Is this a good plan? Brilliant move? Waste of money? What are your thoughts? The Campus press release is after the break.
The Diamondback published a editorial yesterday urging the University to show leadership in the now flailing East Campus project.
Although East Campus may take much longer than expected to complete, the administration must put forth a realistic and straightforward plan now to ensure the project remains feasible.
If East Campus is going to come to fruition any time soon, university officials need to get out ahead of these problems. The vagueness of their statements and what appears to be a lack of direction will not convince many lawmakers.
I could not agree more. What started out as a very promising project has been on a disturbing downward spiral. Mrs. Wylie and other campus officials should take a hard look at this project and decide if East Campus is a priority for the campus and City or not. What is needed is a clear plan for moving forward. Right now what we have is a 38 acre question mark.
State Sen. Jim Rosapepe (D-Anne Arundel and Prince George’s) said the university will face a tough sell lobbying for additional East Campus funding since FP-Argo pulled out, raising questions about the future of a project officials still tout as essential to transforming College Park’s dingy image.
While university officials have said they will buy FP-Argo’s East Campus site plan and build it piece-by-piece with multiple developers, Rosapepe said members of the General Assembly will need to see concrete information before they commit money to the project with the state facing a $2 billion deficit.
“Given the immense fiscal pressures on the state right now, I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure to cut the bulk of state spending where there isn’t a pressing need,” he said.
In 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.
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.
The Diamondback is reporting that the University Senate may come down on the side of the SGA in the Hillock site dispute.
Last February, the SGA unanimously passed a resolution asking the administration to reconsider alternatives to developing the Hillock. But the senate — composed of nearly 200 students, faculty and staff — has a more direct link to university policy than the SGA, which serves primarily as a student advocacy organization.
At a meeting yesterday,the senate’s Campus Affairs Committeecharged five members — three faculty members and two students — with reviewing the planned development. The committee will report its findings to the senate by Oct. 26.
We would like the Senate members to look harder at the alternate locations….
On Friday July 17th the City hosted a Real Estate roundtable. Ann Wylie, the Vice President of Administrative Affairs, was the primary presenter. There were many Campus and Local officials present and based on the lack of empty seats interest was high. The second speaker was Chris Warren providing details of local economic activity. Here are a few random highlights that I jotted down mainly from Mrs. Wylie’s talk. If you were there and have more to add please do jump in the comment section.
In the age of multi Billion dollar bailouts and Trillion dollar budgets this story seems almost quaint. The state budget includes $5 million (small m) to defray University relocation costs for East Campus. Several departments must be moved to make way for the development. Some local officials aren’t happy about putting up funds for a project that is still up in the air. However campus officials are confident the project will move forward once financing is in place for the developer. In any case SOMETHING will go on those 38 acres so it makes sense to move ahead with the relocation plans.
“We have to build new facilities on the campus in order to move everybody off the East Campus site, and we need to do it soon,” said Ann Wylie, the university’s vice president for administrative affairs. “We really want to get started on this.”