College Park Development Update – January

The Development Update is a bi-monthly newsletter prepared by the City of College Park Planning, Community and Economic Development Department covering development activity in the City. This edition features updates on the Maryland Book Exchange redevelopment, Domain at College Park, Cafritz Property, and The Varsity. If you have any questions or would like to subscribe, please feel free to contact Michael Stiefvater at (240) 487-3543 or

UMD And Lockheed Martin Corp. Form Partnership


The University of Maryland and Lockheed Martin Corp. last Friday announced a new partnership that would potentially help fill more research and office space at the M-Square research park. The Fortune 500 global security company and the university have ties that go back 60 years. Lockheed Martin has committed to spend $1 million dollars per year for three years with the possibility of continued support in the future.

The new agreement provides a strategic framework for current and future cooperation that leverages the resources, talent, and ideas of both institutions to produce innovative solutions for global and national security challenges. The agreement provides for work in three key areas: Centers of Collaboration, Joint Pursuit of Business Opportunities, and Enhanced Research and Development.

It is currently unknown if the partnership will require space at UMD’s M-Square research park. There are three additional buildings that have not broken ground yet. The key focus areas in the partnership would be a perfect fit at M-Square.

Officials say a key part of the new strategic relationship is the creation of Centers of Collaboration, which will support sustained cooperative work in mutually agreed-upon areas – initially logistics and sustainment, climate change, and cyber-security.

Current tenants at M-Square include the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity organization, Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Earth System Science and Interdiciplinary Center, and the American Center for Physics to name a few.


“No one really knows when or even if NOAA will be able to move in”

That was Kurt Stout, SVP with Grubb & Ellis’ Government Services Group talking to about National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) moving from its current home in Suitland, MD to UMD’s M-Square Research Park. Evidently things are so up in the air that NOAA went ahead and extended its lease at its current 137,000 square-foot facility for at least another few years.

The primary developer Opus East is suing the General Services Administration and has also gone bankrupt in the process. This leaves the NOAA building 80% complete on the outside and 50% on the inside.  The GSA is working to complete the structure however we do not have a completion date. Check out a post we did on the project’s green features over three years ago.
The difficulty of getting this project completed once again proves a favorite saying of Maryland Alum Kermit the Frog: “It ain’t easy being green.”
See below the fold for images of both sites.

Continue reading “No one really knows when or even if NOAA will be able to move in”

Rising From the Mud

M-Square Building rising from the mud

We often use one word to describe the amount of development coming to College Park – “staggering“. Yet while driving down Route 1, not one crane can be seen nor construction project underway. Even on campus, the recent building frenzy seems to have trickled to a halt among higher bond prices and tightening state purse strings.

We were able to find one project physically underway at the university’s M-Square (our recently updated library page) Research park next to the CP Metro Station. The building is one of 3 planned and approved that will look similar to the rendering below. A fourth building, NOAA’s beautiful Center for Climate and Weather Prediction, is scheduled to open in February 2008, but has not begun construction despite several “ground breakings.”Rendering of M-Square office building

We also uncovered a aggressive proposed phasing plan for the university’s landholding around the Metro Station (below). Much of it is planned to be office space with a decidedly suburban office park character. This massive amount of office space is sure to sap up a lot of the market for office space in College Park (over the next 15 years?). At the same time, it’s important to remember that many of the tenants of these offices wouldn’t be here in the first place had it not been for the draw of the research park and the need for some firms to locate next to firms in the same (or closely related industries). Put more simply – the private market doesn’t build research parks by itself.

There is some housing proposed at the far southwest in addition to a major condo project planned for the WMATA parking lot (seen in yellow). We like the connection to the Anacostia Tributary Trail system, but eventually it will be necessary to have a meaningful pedestrian link under the Metro tracks towards campus.
Detailed Phasing Plan for M-Square

Green NOAA Building Coming to M-Square


College Park isn’t just bursting with new residential development – M-Square (our explanation), the university’s office park, will welcome a 280,000 square foot building that will house the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) new Center for Climate and Weather Prediction. This 50 million dollar center by developer Opus East broke ground in more ways than one last May – it will be the first ‘green’ building in the M-Square development. The project includes a green roof that will help insulate the building and help reduce storm water runoff and an onsite waterfall supplied by collected rainwater. The green roof will also help protect the roof surface – reducing maintenance costs in the future. Over 600 people will work at the center when it is completed.

Besides the visible sustainable aspects, the building will have enough “invisible” sustainable aspects to attain a LEED silver rating. This rating is determined by the U.S. Green Building Council, a leader in sustainable building practices. The new NOAA building will use less water, less energy, and be more comfortable for its employees than most modern buildings. As Senator Barbara Mikulski put it, this is a “world class work environment.”

The Diamondback recently did an excellent piece on the M-Square office park, outlining concerns that the city had about how car oriented the development was shaping to be. “If most people coming to the office arrive by cars, it defeats the purpose of the transit system,” said Councilman Andy Fellows. The new NOAA building is not exempt from this criticism, as it incorporates a large onsite garage. Hopefully future development in M-Square take better advantage of the proximity to public transportation.