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.

More updates 7/16

Two articles from the Diamondback:

– The city council has voted to approve the concept of selling the city hall site to a hotel/condo builder in an attempt to roll that project together with the East Campus TIF. City Hall would be moved to an undisclosed location. Previously that location was an abandoned school in Calvert Hills.

– UMD DOTS was forced to raise daily parking rates due to lower than usual commuter parking permit sales. This is surely the result of higher gas prices and more students living closer to campus. For some reason DOTS director David Allen was surprised in January that “Less than 50 percent of commuters drive to campus.” He reports the campus having “2,000 fewer parkers in the last five years.”


Tons of New Student Housing and Other Development

As we’ve noted, the student housing landscape in College Park has changed dramatically in the past 6 months. Developers are falling over themselves to propose new projects.

Otis Warren/ Steve McBride (best known for building the University View) were at the City Council meeting last Wednesday. They are now proposing a 12-story, 154 unit (516 bed) student housing project directly in front of University View with 12,200 S.F. of ground floor retail (expected completion 2010). The site had previously been planned as an office building. This newly proposed building (previously called the University View Overlook) would house UMD’s Freshmen Connection program.

Warren/McBride are abandoning plans for a luxury condo building just north of the View (8400 Balt Ave). They acquired the Koon’s Ford Quicklane in front of that site and now are proposing a 9-story phased student housing project with 280 units (900 beds) and 18,040 S.F. of retail (expected completion 2012).

Also, the County Planning Board accepted the city’s downtown parking garage plan (w/ retail) for review and the commission now has 70 days to take action.

Pictures to come….

Downtown Parking Garage Hearing

Hearing to be held Tuesday, July 3rd (7 pm) at City Hall on the proposed downtown parking garage.

A planned 5-level parking garage is proposed to be at Knox Road and Yale Avenue (across the street from City Hall, behind Cornersproposed downtown garage site (Knox rd & Yale ave)tone) where there is currently a regular city parking lot. Two houses adjacent to the site were recently acquired at high cost by the city to be part of the garage site . The structure would hold 300 parking spaces and 6,000 square feet of ground-level retail space on Knox Road frontage. Upon completion, city parking capacity would increase by 43%. Barring delays, the garage could be operational by 2010.

Knox Rd and Yale Ave elevations will be primarily brick. South and west elevations would be concrete that is tinted to match the color of the brick. Adding brick to the south and west elevations would increase the project cost. The estimate for the south side alone is an additional $200,000.

The current development budget is $8.08 million to be financed through m
unicipal bonds. Parking meter revenues from the garage alone will not be sufficient to support construction cost. That is typical of similar garage projects. System-wide parking revenues will ultimately support the project cost. This includes an increase in city parking meter rates.downtown garage elevations

The garage is intended to support current downtown businesses, and to help attract new (hopefully more diverse) businesses. The Downtown College Park Merchants Association is strongly in support of the garage. Some current businesses have already been contributing to a parking district fund for years. Councilwoman Stephanie Stullich encourages citizen attendance at the meeting. She says public input will guide final city council decisions on whether to go forward with the project, as well as decisions on specific features of the proposal.

See the College Park city site for specifics on the proposal including feasibility reports.

City Hall Site Deal Moves Forward

The City Council agreed at their Wednesday meeting to proceed with a Preliminary Site Agreement (PDF) for the redevelopment on the existing city hall site just behind Smoothie King. The site will be transformed by Capstone Development Corp into a no more than 9 story building with roughly 165 condos plus retail and/or commercial space. The parking garage we reported on yesterday and also part of the deal, would be located directly across Knox Rd. If the current plans go through, City Hall will be relocated at the (to be reconstructed) Friends School Building near campus. An informational meeting will be held September 21st at 7pm in City Hall.