The university is carefully devising plans for the East Campus development project and intends for this new development to rectify some of the most urgent problems detrimental to campus life. Among these problems is the fact that there is not a single grocery store within walking distance of the campus. Rather than waiting years for the East Campus plan to come to fruition, we’re sure the university could knock this off its to-do list quickly by leasing existing, underused floor space to a grocer. Enter, Pocomoke Building.
The Pocomoke Building is a stately neo-Georgian building located next-door to the Maryland Book Exchange on Route 1 downtown. Right now it houses maintenance garages, expansive storage rooms and spare offices. We recommend the university partner with a grocer to renovate part of the building to turn the first floor into a supermarket.
This partnership between the university and a private grocer would be mutually beneficial. The university would enhance the quality of life for the car-less population thus quickly ameliorating some of the usual student grievances (e.g. nothing to do, no way to shop, etc.). It would also remove one of the strongest incentives students have to bring their cars to College Park.
The grocer would benefit not only from an irresistibly low rent, but also from a hungry student body desperate for options. The publicly accessible location facing Route 1 would welcome passersby and town residents as well as setting a fine example of street-fronting development along Route 1.
The East Campus Market Analysis notes that many students have expressed a desire to see a Trader Joe’s set up shop on East Campus. The California-based grocery chain is known for its Hawaiian décor, interesting variety of foods and—most importantly—its low prices.
Though we’re not sure what exact incentives would attract an operation like Trader Joe’s, one can be certain that a $1/year lease for the entire space would be compelling to any retail business.
Since the building is rather spacious and located very nicely on the edge of campus and downtown, we would also like to see the second floor renovated and leased to a café, so we can finally have an option besides the one Starbucks by Wawa. The last thing we need is yet another chain coffee shop, so we’d like to see an independent place like the successful, but remote, College Perk or Adams Morgan’s Tryst.
The beauty of this plan is that with relatively little cost to the university we can finally get a grocery store and another coffee shop downtown long before the first spades hit the dirt on East Campus.
We here at Rethink C.P. think of everything, so we put together a 3D model of what we envision.
The current building configuration (above) puts two doors on either side of the front façade. We recommend opening up the façade with floor-to-ceiling windows and a glass sliding door in the center (below). We kept the building symmetry since that is a key element of Georgian architecture.
Six garage doors currently pierce the south façade (above). Rather than bricking them in, we suggest replacing them with tall windows to bring in the light (below).
We also imagined piercing the ceiling with skylights (below) to brighten up the second floor. In addition we recommend capping the tops of the façades with some sort of pre-cast ornamental ledge.
We also imagine joining the two floors into a grand hall (above) with the second floor becoming a wide balcony holding the café. This would be reminiscent of some of the old public marketplaces like Faneuil Hall in Boston (below).